Obama campaign 'example of how to manage volunteers'

Charities need to rethink how they use volunteers in the wake of Barack Obama's election as US President, according to Dame Elisabeth Hoodless.

The executive director of UK volunteering charity CSV said Obama's campaign was a good example of how volunteers should be managed. She said lessons should be learned from the "critical role of volunteers in the successful Obama campaign".

"If volunteers can make a difference to a presidential campaign, hasn't the time come to invite them to make a difference to our hospitals, schools, prisons and care homes?" she said.

"There is nothing a volunteer cannot do, and we need to change the way we think about how volunteering energy is harnessed."

Just months before the election, Obama sent out thousands of volunteers across the US to help boost his bid for the White House. More than 10,000 replied to a call for volunteers in April. Of those, 3,600 committed to at least six weeks of unpaid political work.

"Volunteer citizens were involved at every level and no one was rejected," said Hoodless. "Everyone had a role: harnessing the power of the web, making phone calls, transporting electors and reaching the uninvolved. The lesson of this success is that giving people something to do motivates citizens to become part of the solution and not part of the problem."

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