Tip 1012: Volunteers, The Elusive Quarry

Most nonprofit organizations depend on the time and effort of volunteers who are there because they believe in the mission of the organization.

We all want to feel that we make a difference, and volunteering our time to a nonprofit we believe in is a good way to do that.

I volunteered to be a member of a nonprofit board for an organization concerned with ensuring that trainers have the skills they need to be as effective as possible.

Since the entire organization was run by volunteers, one of the board’s  primary goals was to engage members to volunteer for different roles and committees.

We quickly learned that as board members, we needed to be present at all monthly meetings, greeting and getting to know our members.

We discovered that, in addition to offering engaging presentations, providing food and beverages tended to attract more members.

We always started each meeting with networking and then a request for volunteers. We touched upon what was in it for them in terms of new knowledge, experience, and opportunities to attend professional conferences.

We soon realized that wasn’t enough to attract members to agree to volunteer.

We hadn’t put ourselves in the shoes of busy professionals with family or other obligations.

We also had forgotten how important it was to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of our volunteers.

We created co-chairs of committees to alleviate some of the workload and time commitment.

We began to highlight volunteers in the monthly newsletter.

But we still continued to rely on members who felt a civic duty to volunteer.

It wasn’t until a new president made it a job requirement for her employees to join the organization and volunteer that it became easier to fill volunteer positions.

This was obviously an unusual circumstance.

P.S. How do you attract and retain volunteers for your nonprofit organization?

May your learning be sweet,


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