What to Consider When Re-Organizing Volunteers

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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

Define success.
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.

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

7 Evergreen Ideas to Engage Volunteers

evergreen ideas for volunteers jpgBy 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.

Don’t miss these 7 evergreen ideas to engage volunteers – and keep them engaged.

1. Make sure the board and volunteer messaging is positive and collaborative.
Proactively establish that the organization works as a team to accomplish the goals.

2. Hold comprehensive training every year for all volunteers.
Group experiences like training help volunteers to feel more invested and anchored in their volunteer experiences.

3. Sunset committees that aren’t needed anymore.
Closing committees that are no longer active allows the volunteers’ energy and efforts to be poured into new tasks where they can see the fruits of their labors.

4. Formalize the volunteer application system.
Having requirements and an application for volunteers will help you to gather information about volunteers and place them in projects that will be the best fit.

5. Know when the project is too big.
No one enjoys volunteering on a project that is struggling. If initiatives are floundering, then it might be time to consider bringing in a staff member or an outside consultant to take over all or part of the project.

6. Develop non-traditional volunteer roles.  
Stop thinking of “positions” and start thinking of tasks and projects that need to be accomplished. Pool the creative resources in your team!

7. Use volunteer satisfaction surveys.
Volunteer satisfaction surveys help your volunteers know that your organization cares about the volunteers. Ask what made participants decide to volunteer, what strategies are working, and how they would like to see the organization change.

Want to know more about association management? Contact us at info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.