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 From the book
When Everyone’s a Volunteer
by Ivan Scheier

The following section is from " WHEN EVERYONE’S A VOLUNTEER: THE EFFECTIVE FUNCTIONING OF ALL- VOLUNTEER GROUPS." 1992, ENERGIZE Inc, Philadelphia, PA, pp.53, Designed and used originally for volunteers and voluntary groups, the process can work as well with paid and obligated work in agencies, offices, businesses, schools as an icebreaker, team-builder and, when regularly repeated, a team-maintainer. 

This is the successor to what some readers may remember as the MINI- MAX game. The present version is even simpler and more versatile. Moreover, it has even more emphasis on what is offered to a network rather than on what is needed from it.

Background and Rules
The process works for as few as 6 to 8 participants and up to 250 to 300. Ideally, participants should be with people they don't know well or at all, grouped 6 to 8 in moveable chairs around tables. Each participant should be provided with, or make for her/himself, eight 'Glad Gift cards,' approximately 4" by 4" each. The card should have space for the participant's name and telephone number plus room for 15-25 words to summarize a "Glad Gift."

In preparation for the process define a Glad Gift as:

....something fairly specific you like to do, and can do pretty well, which might be of use to someone else."

Give several examples and get a few more from participants. Then, emphasize that this is "for real." No one should offer a Glad Gift unless completely prepared to give it, if asked.

Phase One: The Small-Circle Cycle

1. Put your name and full telephone number on each of your eight-(8) Glad Gift cards.

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2. Put a different Glad Gift of yours (from any aspect of your life) onto a card, on each of five (5) of the cards. Leave the other three (3) cards blank; they are your 'wild cards."

Remember, a Glad Gift is '...something fairly specific you like to do, and can do pretty well, which might be of use to someone else." Some examples are:

..'I'm good at and like brainstorming ideas for fundraising."

..'I'm a great gourmet cook."

..'I'm an excellent canoeing instructor and enjoy teaching others to canoe."

This is "for real." Don't offer a Glad Gift unless you are completely prepared to give it, if asked.

3. At each table, whoever wants to can start off by reading his or her list of five Glad Gifts, one at a time.

4. Stop reading when anyone else at the table wants one of your Glad Gifts. At that point, give them the Glad Gift card. It will be up to them to get in touch with you so you can deliver your Glad Gift to them.

5. It now becomes the turn of the person who received the Glad Gift to start reading his/her Glad Gifts. And so the game continues.

6. If you read all your Glad Gifts and nobody wants any of them (boo hoo), anyone else can take a turn to start reading their Glad Gifts. You then listen a while to the kinds of gifts people are eager to get, then see if you can fill out your remaining three blank cards (wild cards) with Glad Gifts of that type.

7.Better luck next time you get a chance to read your Glad Gifts. But if still nobody wants any of your gifts the second time, go to another group.

If at any point in the process you sense a "need" for a Glad Gift you actually have but have not written down, write that Glad Gift down on one of your blank wild cards, and use it at will.

Phase One takes 20 to 30 minutes and you may choose to complete the process at this point; in fact, you'll have to end it here if you have only one table of 6 to 8 participants.

Phase Two: The Ambassador Cycle
One person from each table is that group's ambassador to other tables, to market their remaining Glad Gifts. The ambassador first familiarizes her/himself with the remaining Glad Gifts at his/her table, then circulates to other tables. She/he is empowered to offer the gifts to any other participant at any other table just as if she/he were the original owner of the Glad Gift. Ambassadors are instructed to return to their table once they have matched all the Glad Gifts they can at other tables. The facilitator calls a halt to this phase when he/she sees that most or all ambassadors have returned to their home table.

Depending largely on the number of tables, the ambassador cycle can take 5 to 20 minutes, at the end of which you can expect 80-90% of the Glad Gifts in the room to be used/matched!

 (((1998 Note. More recently I've simply encourage individuals to move from one table whenever they fell this would help "market" their glad gifts or fill their needs. This simplifies the process and makes it even more informal and spontaneous)))

Phase Three: The Auction Cycle
So far, the process has had a positive spin, in that it works from what people are willing to offer, rather than what they happen to need. It turns out, though, that as many and probably more needs are met with an offer-led as distinct from a need-initiated process. Still, there may be some important unmet needs remaining in the room at this point, some of them unusual to the point of exoticism. Therefore, in the auction cycle, individuals who wish to do so are invited to present a remaining difficult need to the entire room. Participants can offer Glad Gifts, as before, and also "Information Leading To's" or ILTs. In this third phase, an ILT doesn't commit you to do anything for the needful person; but it does provide a lead or hint which might help the person find assistance somewhere else (much as in the last phase of "Guided Conversation"). It is perfectly amazing how many unusual and difficult needs get some help in the auction cycle.

Comments and Discussion
The process itself is so instructive that little discussion of it is needed, usually. Such discussion as there is can emphasize how effective networking can be, leading from the positive (gifts) rather than leading from the negative (needs). Also, participants see that helping doesn't have to hurt (when based on Glad Gifts).

As noted, the Small-Circle cycle (Phase One) requires about 20-30 minutes, maybe a bit more, while the Ambassador cycle takes 5-20 minutes, depending on the total size of the group. The Auction cycle can go on nearly forever in large groups. For illustrative purposes, however, two or three examples of auctions usually suffice, and this can be done in 10-15 minutes.

In one variation of the Glad Gift Game process, participants can represent their group or organization rather than themselves as individuals. The main complications here are that the individual be certain of authorization to represent their group's Glad Gifts ("willingly shared resources") and check back with the group before finalizing any Glad Gift offer or exchange.

((((Please see earlier discussion in this packet on CO-MINIMAX I))))

To assure that the process will run smoothly, particularly for larger groups, I suggest you first run a practice session with a smaller group.

Variations of this process have been around for approximately 25 years, so try to identify people in your group who have experienced the process and enlist their help in advance as co-facilitators.

((((1999-Somewhat embarrassing to admit after developing this careful three-cycle procedure for the Glad Gift Game, is that what works best sometimes, or at least as well, is simply to turn people loose, armed with their glad gift cards, and invite them to make as many good glad gift/need matches as they can. The resulting happy chaos can be very productive...))))

When Everyone is a Volunteer   by Ivan Scheier is available for purchase from Energize.