Archive | January, 2012

What Would the Perfect Volunteer-Involving Organization Look Like? Bruce’s response to post by Susan J. Ellis – Energize Inc.

5 Jan

What Would the Perfect Volunteer-Involving Organization Look Like?

By Susan J. Ellis

Bruce Summers’ response

  • Equivalent – rights, roles, responsibility, respected, resources
  • Executive/Management Partnerships
  • Friend-raisers
  • Monthly/Annual Volunteer Statement
  • Multiply yourself through volunteers
  • Volunteer Philosophy Statement
  • Volunteer Satisfaction Surveys

Hmmm…. Susan raises some great points, as usual, I like her vision and would add…

Equivalent – rights, roles, responsibility, respected, resources – all volunteers and employees would have equivalent rights (personnel policies for each should mirror the other). Volunteers or employees could fill just about any role in the organization, lead projects, programs, teams – it would be hard to tell who is a volunteer and who is an employee. Volunteers and employees would garner equal respect for their knowledge, skills, abilities and experience and the resources they can bring to benefit the organization (note nonprofits usually cannot hire Fortunate 500 Level Executive talent as employees, but these same executives or retirees may be very willing to serve a volunteer).

Executive/Management Partnerships – Experienced, talented executives and managers will be invited to serve in volunteer partnerships with experienced employees serving as executives and managers working in tandem/partnership for the good of the organization. One partner can represent the other in internal or external meetings, both may have budget authority if one or the other is on vacation, they would split up who would lead various projects, working groups, be primary or go deeper re: specific key responsibilities…

Friend-raisers – all volunteers and employees will be asked to be friend-raisers for the organization.  They should be kept informed of targeted resource needs and encouraged to tell their friends, family and connections about the organizations people, financial, or client services needs.  You never know who is connected to…

The Monthly/Annual Volunteer Statement would be equally important to the board and the executive director to the monthly/annual financial statement.

Multiply yourself through volunteers – each new employee would be coached on how he/she needs to multiply themselves through volunteers.  Many organizations involve 10, 30 or even 1,000 volunteers for each employee; by design these organizations could not be successful if the primary constraint on capacity was limited by the number of FTE employees available to do the work. Our budget would provide for the needs of multiplying resources and efforts through volunteer engagement.

A Volunteer Philosophy Statement – should be an organic basic building block for all organizations, it ties into why do we engage volunteers, their role – how do we get work done, by whom, how do we effectively and efficiently partner to…

Volunteer Satisfaction Surveys – ask volunteers at least annually or as they complete their assignment, how are things going, what worked great, how can we do things better, solicit information that is “actionable” so the organization can improve its volunteer engagement systems and processes.  Ask questions about the volunteer intake experience, about training and supervision.  Ask a few demographic questions, this is very helpful for analyzing the composition of your volunteer cadre and how it evolves over time.

Think about… is this the type of organization you would want to volunteer for, does it engage volunteers that you would like to partner with, are volunteers integrated organically, treated equivalently and considered invaluable resources and partners.


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