Success with Your Valuable Volunteers

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Danielle Jessup, CMP

Many organizations around the world are changing due to COVID-19.  Potentially the organization structure has changed but the workload has increased.  Now is the time to enhance your organization’s volunteer program.  Here are some simple steps to recruit valuable volunteers to potentially save your organization or revamp programs to position them for success moving forward.

Foundation:

  • Clear Expectations – individuals will not sign-up to volunteer if they don’t know what is expected of them.
  • Match Skills to Opportunities – don’t just sign-up individuals to any committee or plan of work; consider their skills and talents.
  • Training – individuals will be successful if you provide them the training and tools they need to accomplish their role.
  • Leaders for Volunteer Engagement – Assign a chair and/or co-chairs that will lead the group and allow for volunteer engagement.  Having a chair that is too passive or too aggressive can disrupt the work and the overall success of the committee.
  • Recognition – A simple recognition goes a long way and can help you maintain the leaders you built and in turn, help build new leaders to continue the success of the program and association.

Recruitment:

  • Easy access to sign-up for a committee.
  • Sign-up at in-person meetings or virtual offerings.
  • Develop a committee recruitment document that explains each committee’s role, frequency of meeting, method of meeting (in-person, zoom, etc.), . . . see setting expectations above.
  • Recruitment Message – consider who would be the best person to deliver this message.
  • Career Path – think of volunteering as a career path; best way to try something out before fully committing.
    • Volunteer/Committee members → Committee Chair → Board Member → Officer
  • Point System
    • Example 1) each volunteer opportunity you receive points to earn a free membership or free registration.
    • Example 2) points are earned based on years in role and type of role and can be used towards moving up into a leadership role (must be a volunteer for X years and a chair for X years prior to serving as a Director)

Retention:

  • NO overlap of duties among committees.
  • HAVE purpose and structure.
  • Consider a written action plan for each committee.
  • Structure committees with a Chair/Chair-Elect/Past-Chair to maintain continuity.

Recognition:

  • Newsletter, website, publications, conference programs
  • Other: local newspaper, recognition at the state level if you are a national organization
  • Gift or token of appreciation

Resources:

Committee Toolkit

Toolkit should include:

  • Mission of organization
  • Strategic plan
  • Duties of each committee chair, co-chair, past-chair
  • Action Plan to include committee task list, deadlines, who is responsible, etc.
  • Program/committee budget
  • Post Report Template

Leadership Ladder

Document should include:

  • Steps for Success
  • Roles for each volunteer level to guide you to a National Officer and beyond

More To Explore

Lessons Learned – Key Clauses in Post-Pandemic Meetings Contracts

While most associations have resumed in-person meetings, many meetings are still striving to achieve pre-covid attendance levels. However, as they move forward, wise association managers and planners entering into contracts for in-person meetings in 2023 and beyond, will do well to apply the lessons learned over these past two years.