I saw a recent Tweet from fundraising consultant/speaker Stephen Pidgeon (@StephenPidge); I dont want to give money to a charity. I want to change the world with my money. What a great way to put what so many more people are thinking these days when it comes to not only their money, but also their time.
As we celebrate the 39th National Volunteer Week, it’s important to remember that generally your volunteers have the same thoughts. They want to help because they want to change the world around them for the better.
Now, it is true that in the past, there were a handful of people in every bunch who were looking for any Board position that they could find to put on their resume. Many times we’ve seen people seemingly taking whatever they could get. But most of the time, as we work with them more closely, we often discover that VERY few people ever want to waste their time by not actually helping with the mission of their new-found organization.
Its a fact of Social Science that we are creatures who enjoy being part of a winning team, or even just associating with a winning team. If you think about the modern professional sports world, you realize that it makes little sense that grown people put so much angst into cheering on a bunch of men running around on an athletic field (of course you know I do it too.) But we do it because we want to be winners in some way. And your volunteer is just the same. Once they are on your team they want to win; in this case truly make a positive difference.
As a leader, it is your job to appreciate that facet of everyone and find the best way for them to help you win. As we’ve talked about many times before, preparing volunteers and (especially) Board Members with expectations up front leaves a lot less room for disappointment AND helps you both decide if your volunteer opportunity is right for them.
Never forget that while donations keep the doors open, your volunteers actually turn the lights off and on. Ensure that their efforts are as valued as any donor by making sure they are fruitful. You’ll find you’ll have a supporter for life.