Strong Volunteers, Strong Associations

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By Rachel Owen, communications manager

Whether your organization is knee deep in “conference season” or in that brief quiet moment before ramping up membership renewals, chances are that you’re thinking about volunteers.

We know that associations are built on volunteers – they’re the heart of any association. Volunteers, along with staff and board members, move the association forward every day.

Here are some tips to build a stronger, more engaged association through volunteers.

Go slow to go fast. It takes time and thoughtful strategy to create a great volunteer base. Take a step back to really survey the landscape and consider your organization’s culture. What worked in the past, with different resources and different volunteers, might not work now.

Read: What to Consider When Re-organizing Volunteers

Create a strong leadership team. Building strong teams takes time and energy – and it starts at the top. Look for leaders that invest in each person’s strengths and work to build better relationships. Leaders are often the first point of contact for volunteers, so make sure your leaders are ready to build a great team.

Read: Creating Strong Leadership Teams

Engagement is really about learning what makes your volunteers tick. This will help you plug volunteers in where they will get the most personal satisfaction – and keep contributing. Keep why they volunteered in the forefront. Read:

Create a volunteering culture. Volunteering is for everyone! Make sure there are a variety of opportunities available to fit every skill and interest level. Promote an atmosphere of generosity – and generously praise those who give their time and skills. Don’t underestimate the power of positive reinforcement.

Read: Create a Culture of Givers

Let your volunteers be the voice. There’s a reason why businesses look for customer testimonials: there’s nothing like the “insider” perspective. Encourage your volunteers to share their great experiences volunteering within the organization and the benefits they’ve received. Your volunteers who find their experience rewarding will be your organization’s best promoters.

Read: 514 Strangers, a guest post from Marc Aronson, quintessential volunteer, Property Records Industry Association (PRIA)

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

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