December 2019 – Rick Szilagyi, Principal

You’re Not Alone

How many times have you heard “we have too many volunteers!” at a board meeting? You haven’t? You’re not alone. The need for additional volunteers to fill board seats, and even for lesser volunteer commitments, is a much-cited issue for small nonprofits. In no small way, the usual challenge is exacerbated by the fact that, as a rule, the number of people stepping up to serve as volunteers for nonprofits is down.1

As with any challenge, it is time to change, increase, and/or improve our efforts. How many of you are on boards with a Volunteer Program in place? If your organization does not have a well-organized, well-executed program, it is time to build one.

There’s Hope!

The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) recently ran a very brief article titled, “Optimize Your Volunteer Program.”2 Before citing the need for improvement in the areas of volunteer recruitment, training, and assessment, it shares some interesting statistics gleaned from a survey of non-volunteer respondents:

  • 60% thought about volunteering, but did not. When asked why they didn’t…
  • 44% said they didn’t know what it entailed. And…
  • 22% didn’t volunteer because they didn’t know someone who had volunteered.

60% of non-volunteers considered volunteering. That is good news! There’s hope!

A reason for not volunteering given by 44% was that they didn’t know what it entailed. More good news! An area to target! I’ll come back to the 22% in a minute.

In her recent article, “The New Nonprofit’s Guide to Creating a Volunteer Program,”3 Leah Holt lays out her steps to developing a successful volunteer program:

  • Planning
  • Recruitment
  • Orientation & Training
  • Supervision & Support
  • Recognition

This is a great article, offering very detailed steps for how to set up your program. It establishes the roadmap to developing and implementing a new Volunteer Program.

One final article I will point to, written by Eric Burger, is “4 Ways to Create an Efficient Volunteer Program.” 4 This article is geared more toward data collection, which can serve as a guide for how to measure your successes after implementing your new program. But before I go… let’s get back to the 22%.

The 22% Who Said They Didn’t Know Anyone Who Volunteered

Regarding the 22% who stated they didn’t volunteer because they didn’t know anyone else who had volunteered, we actually have recent, first-hand knowledge with that issue. Just a few months ago, a director on a client’s board was attending a social event during an industry conference. Standing in a small group of peers, he did what all board members should always be doing – developing potential board members. He suggested to a non-board member that consideration be given to stepping up for a board seat. The non-board member said to another non-board member standing in the group, “I will if you will.” There was agreement. Then one of them made a call on his cell phone, and after a brief preamble, said the same thing to the person on the other end: “I will if you will.” She agreed, as well. The result? Our client picked up three new, productive, engaged board members. Knowing others who have stepped up helps. And friends enjoy working with friends.

Call to Action

Let’s get started. Check out the third article below. It’s all there.

The next step is implementation. A friend of mine who served on a client’s board before selling his business once told me that he would tell anyone how to run a successful business in the industry. He wasn’t worried about helping a competitor. His rationale? At the end of the day, it was all about execution. Knowing how is one thing; getting it done is another. If you’d like help getting it done, give us a call.

1. Why Americans Stopped Volunteering

2. Optimize Your Volunteer Program

3. The New Nonprofit’s Guide to Creating a Volunteer Program

4. 4 Ways to Create an Efficient Volunteer Program

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