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…and the rest of the volunteer manager horoscopes for 2017 are…

July 23 to August 22

This is a very social year, and a lunar eclipse in Leo awakens your self-awareness, giving you the confidence to advertise your many program successes, which means you will wake up one morning, after having dreamed about vicious little Gavin in third grade who always copied off your papers and then threatened to rub your face in his tuna sandwhich if you told, and you will borrow a megaphone from your football crazed cousin who smells like ham and lives in your aunt’s basement. You will don your wizard’s hat left over from your Gandalf Halloween costume and you will arrive early at work, and stand near the front door, fist raised, blasting loudly all the things you’ve accomplished as staff and volunteers arrive. You continue to amplify stats such as “our volunteer team increased by 15% this year, are you listening?!” and “volunteers now have a hotline to call thanks to me,” until you feel a tap on your shoulder and you turn quickly, hitting the CEO in the side of the head with your megaphone which sports a sticker that reads ‘Balls are for Playing,’ knocking his new designer glasses to the pavement, breaking them in half.

On the flip and positive side, you do think about real ways to trumpet volunteer successes so you enlist businesses up and down the main thoroughfare in your town to post pro-volunteer messages on their marquee signs. These messages announce volunteer stats and words of support and thanks during volunteer appreciation week, which increases awareness and not only brings in more volunteers, but also creates new corporate donor partnerships with your organization. Your CEO forgives you while sporting new glasses and asks you to increase your campaign of awareness, enlisting other departments to help.  (You social guru, you!)

August 23 to September 22

Uh, oh, Saturn is still squaring your sign giving you lessons to learn, and encouraging you to take it slow and steady. This means you will suddenly declare your office space a “No Emergency Zone” and you will send out a memo to all staff that you have hand printed on recycled gift paper with scented markers from a co-op in India. The memo reads in part: “Placement of volunteers is no mindless task, like making coffee or calling donors. NO! It is a thoughtful, nuanced and carefully crafted exercise that takes experience, level-headed planning and the most bodacious, artful begging in the world! There are at least 20 steps to making the correct volunteer assignment, and if you need me to read those steps to you, send me a note and I will read them to you when I am good and ready. From here on out, volunteer requests must be submitted no less than three weeks in advance, to ensure excellence in all volunteering assignments.” You will nail a box to your door marked. “Properly Planned Volunteer Requests. No Last Minute Filing Need Be In Here! This means you, too, administration.”  When you smugly open the box the first time, you discover chewed gum, used tissues and a note that says, well, I can’t print it for all the profane language. Your immediate supervisor will force you to remove the box after you submit a volunteer name to marketing one week after their event is over.

On a more positive side, this is a year of putting down roots, so one afternoon while accompanying a friend who is apartment searching, you come up with an idea for a volunteer education program you call  “Rooted in Learning.” This idea resonates because you have experienced the growth or your volunteers due to their hunger for knowledge about your program. You enlist virtual volunteers to help create a monthly educational newsletter filled with articles, tips and research not only pertinent to the volunteers’ jobs, but also to the volunteers’ personal well-being and development. It is such a hit that it becomes a weekly newsletter with contributions from a growing team of virtual volunteers, who then ask for more work and they begin to aid other organizational departments as well. This new program wins a local award for innovation and creativity. (You innovative master, you!)

September 23 to October 22

Oh, Libra, Jupiter retrogrades in the spring, bringing rapid change which means that you will suddenly decide after visiting that new Turkish coffee shop  to complete all your pending projects in a weekend you dub, “Rapid Fire Volunteering.” You decide to camp out at your office, bringing in a sleeping bag, toothbrush and soap, and a picture of your ex-partner because the sight of him makes you wildly aggressive. You schedule volunteers in one hour shifts to help you arrange all your notes and binders on the floor and tables in your office and you work non-stop while listening to vintage Prodigy albums. At 4am, a security guard finds you sleeping among strewn potato chip bags, “Firestarter” playing in a loop, and, thinking you are a vagrant, he calls the police.  He pokes you with his night stick and almost tasers you when you jump up swinging because in the dark, the policeman slightly resembles your ex-partner.  The policeman helps you to your feet and then confirms your employment by phone with a very angry and sleepy senior manager. Your organization circulates a memo, initiating a “no sleeping in your office policy,” and they include a picture of a sleeping you, dried saliva running down your cheek.

But ironically, this energy serves you well and one day, you are in a departmental meeting involving volunteer services, marketing and PR. While listening to the marketing manager talk about their wish list,  you hatch an idea to create a volunteer marketing assistant group. You enlist your most vocal volunteers and with a marketing training course, these volunteers accompany speakers to speaking engagements, providing support, volunteer success stories and that personal touch. The volunteers also contact local groups to book more speaking engagements, increasing your organization’s community awareness, support and donations. (You brilliant thinker, you!)

October 23 to November 21

Good ol’ Jupiter hangs out in your 12th house allowing you to reboot, creating a desire to really recharge. This means that although you pore through brochures about retreats to Nepal, the grim reality is that you can’t afford such a lavish trip, so you decide to go on a pilgrimage right there in your own town. You dress in Buddhist robes and sandals and carry a gnarled walking stick that you name “Metaphysical Mike” and begin your odyssey, quoting the Dali Lama as you walk through the main shopping area to raise awareness of volunteering. One morning, while pausing in front of Donna’s Diner to adjust the placard around your neck that reads “non-violence is volunteering,” you are approached by a man dressed in fur. He claims to be Sasquatch and although he just wants to hug you, you defensively bonk him on the head with Metaphysical Mike. He backs away, knocking over the diner’s cute cafe tables and Donna herself comes out to yell, but you hike up your robes and run. You finally breathlessly stop outside your office building, where a group of retired seamstresses are politely waiting for a tour of your organization. One of the group’s members is a volunteer who happily announces, “Oh, here’s our volunteer manager. She’ll take us on a tour!” Trapped, you lead the group through the building, your dirty and tattered robes falling off as you raise Metaphysical Mike and point out a startled group of administrators having lunch.

On a saner and positive flip side, you do create a retreat for your volunteers, enlisting the services of your town’s business owners. You feature alternative therapies, such as yoga, massage, healing touch, reiki, and aromatherapy in a day of “Recharge and Refresh.” It is a resounding success and your CEO asks you to head up a committee to create annual staff and volunteer retreats. You agree and find that you are now recruiting more alternative therapy volunteers who go on to create innovative and meaningful programs for your clients. (You freakin’ guru, you!)

November 22 to December 21

Since your ruling planet is in your teamwork zone, you are pumped to make teamwork a priority and after spending an evening at a local sports pub because your friend wanted to meet the cute new bartender, your mind is swirling from all the television sets broadcasting various sports channels. While watching extreme sports, you decide to create your own team atmosphere by hand printing shirts for your volunteers that say, “Team Bestest Ever.” You wear a cap proclaiming yourself “Head Coach of Team Awesome” and one afternoon, you pass out pom poms to all employees in a staff meeting, claiming that they are the cheerleaders for team volunteer. You then pull three random staff members to the front of the room and attempt to lead them in a cheer, asking them to respond to your cheers by shouting “volunteer:” “Who’s the team that’s underappreciated? Volunteer! Who’s the team we fail to notice? Volunteer! Who’s the team that everybody should be thanking but don’t cause we don’t really know what they do and how complicated it is to keep them engaged? Volunteer!” When you realize no one is participating, but rather looking at you in total shock, you sulk back to your seat and sit down. You then are made to take down all the posters you have put up all over your organization, especially the ones that read, “Team Volunteer is Smarter Than Team Finance” and “Team Volunteer Challenges Team Grant Writers To a Cage Fight!”

Thankfully, when the talk of your ” epic breakdown” fades away, a more positive team idea formulates. You create teams of volunteers made up of a mix of seasoned veterans, new volunteers, prospective volunteers, varying age groups, gender, culture etc. to promote a spirit of volunteer teamwork. The ensuing by-product is these team members support one another, disseminate crucial information, fill in for one another when necessary and work at retaining the members of their group. It is a teamwork win-win and your organization asks you to help recreate the concept for staff which infuses a positive and recharged organizational spirit. (You winning coach, you!)

December 22 to January 19

Saturn rounds out a tour through your 12th house, meaning you will reveal many hidden things and so, one night while reaching for another tissue while watching “How to Train Your Dragon” again, you conjure up a volunteer department based on honesty and revelation. The next day while speaking to a volunteer who asks why she wasn’t told there were no chairs for her to sit upon at the table she manned during the last community fair, you try out your new communication style and answer, “Well, because Doris, the manager of PR, didn’t tell me that we needed to furnish our own chairs.” And in a fit of honest lunacy, you add, “let’s go up and give her a piece of our minds!” Horrified, the volunteer reluctantly follows you up to administration where you rap on Doris’ door, smiling sweetly at your petrified volunteer. When a puzzled Doris invites you in, you point to your volunteer and say, “our volunteer has something to say to you. Go on, be honest.” At this point, the volunteer bursts into tears and runs from the office, bumping into another volunteer who just collated 100 copies of the new procedures manual. Both volunteers drop to the ground, sobbing while gathering the scattered pages and you end up spending your day re-collating the manual and apologizing profusely. Doris, meanwhile bans you from her office for the next three months.

When fellow staff stop avoiding you, you feel the time is right for your volunteer department to spread some much-needed positive joy within your overworked and stressed organization. You obtain permission for your volunteers to read “words of joy and inspiration” at staff meetings. The volunteers recount some of their personal journeys and experiences while volunteering and these 3 minute episodes are a huge hit with grateful staff. Based on the new-found camaraderie, your volunteers decide to create a “spa day” for overwhelmed staff, an event that features massage, and art therapy and stress relieving journal writing. Spa day becomes an eagerly awaited yearly staple and fosters a new appreciation for volunteers.(You wicked good leader, you!)

Well, there it is! After she rolled up the charts, Ms. Crystal Ball-Starrzowie wiped the sweat from her brow, either because she had worked really hard, or maybe because the broken furnace in her basement kept running on super high, I’m not sure which. But she did grab my face, locked her eyes on mine and said, “Now this is vitally important. Listen very carefully.” She tightened the grip on my cheeks and added, “your credit card was denied. You owe me $78.”

Cheers and here’s to 2017!