By Jalene Bowersmith, Executive Director
These ideas are inspired by the session “Re-Imagine Volunteering” at the ASAE Annual Meeting on August 12, 2014, presented by Debra BenAvram and Peggy Hoffman.
Considering how to help your organization’s volunteers be more effective? Maybe it’s time for a re-organization of your volunteer structure.
What to Consider When Re-Organizing Volunteers
Before you get started, make sure you have the end result in mind. What are you looking for? Do you want to increase documented engagement, stronger member satisfaction, or added interest groups? Make sure you have an overall plan with a clear timeline, expectations and commitments. Establishing where you want to go is critical to knowing how to get there.
Remember, change it takes time.
It seems to take about 18 months for a board structural change to take affect and everyone to get on board with the new process and roles. Be prepared to be patient – and to help your volunteers settle into their new holes.
Clarify roles and responsibilities.
Make sure every one – board, chairs, volunteers, and staff – knows what their responsibilities are. This is critical during a transition to keep projects moving forward and to make sure all tasks are covered.
Go slow to go fast.
Take the time to communicate well when you are onboarding volunteers. A good foundation will help speed the transition and make for more effective volunteers in the long run.
Listen to the experts.
Let the volunteers determine their skills and expertise. Always start by asking your volunteers about where they feel they would fit best within the organization and work from there.
No volunteer left behind.
Every new process will have people who need help getting on board with the change. Use education to help the stragglers see the benefits of the new process and let them be a part of the solution. Each of your team members can be a positive advocate for the change.