Follow Up Questions: 11 January 2013

  1. Do you have any advice on encouraging your office to adopt a formal volunteer program?

It’s all in establishing the value – the ROI of having effective volunteers.   When there’s an ROI associated with program, it is more likely to get resources appropriately in associations. If you can demonstrate the volunteers spent more or save you more, and then project how that might affect the bottom line by increasing volunteerism, you’ve made a strong case. You can measure the impact of volunteerism in a number of ways such as:

    • LTV (lifetime value) of the member-volunteer vs member – demonstrates the $$ spent in addition to dues
    • Renewal rates for member-volunteer vs member – demonstrates both the $$ in renewal & should indicate the savings in the cost to renew
    • Average years of tenure for member-volunteer vs member – demonstrates $$ potential
    • NPS (net promoter scores) for member-volunteer vs member – demonstrates likelihood that volunteers are bringing in new members and/or assuring renewal

But also consider the savings. Look at important jobs within your association that are performed by volunteers. Then estimate the cost savings if you paid for that work.  The Independent Sector estimated value for volunteer time is $21.79/hour.

Then, add to the “pitch” any examples of a job done poorly not able to be completed because of lack of volunteers to demonstrate the risk of not having an effective volunteer program.

2. How do you approach a volunteer who isn’t fulfilling the volunteer position/role?

Honestly and openly! I think the worse thing we do as volunteer managers is not give good meaningful feedback – especially to those who are not performing as needed. There are two caveats to this – the feedback must be timely and should be limited to those actions or changes which can be controlled in the future.

Just like in health care, preventive care is the best medicine. There are at least two things we can do: (1) is clearly map out the job expectations, requirements, and outcomes and (2) have on-going specific conversations that help assure the volunteer is on track.

3. Should the goal be 100% volunteerism – or is that unrealistic? In other words, is there a place for EVERYONE to volunteer?

That’s probably the $1 million question. The reality is that there will always be people who are just content to sit back – the wall flowers at every dance. The issue is though that some of the wall flowers are waiting to be asked to dance and after a while they will stop coming and we lose them. One possible answer to the question is when you survey members what percentage are engaged or indicate an interest to engaging or suggest their dissatisfaction could be related to lack of engaging. That percentage is probably your target.

The other element to remember in that question is the definition of volunteer. We know from ASAE’s Decision To Volunteer, that only about 17% want to be in high-level positions and another 23% in local leadership, leaving the vast majority – nearly 60% – interested in small jobs. So the question of how many is largely related to how many ways can they.chart 1

4. Rewards and Recognition… some examples of what works?

Love this question and have to begin with my motto: Recognize effort, Reward outcomes. What works I think is when we focus first on the other on the other side of recognition – supporting volunteers – and secondly on genuine, personal, unexpected thanks (I wrote a blog post on gifts and other thank yous).

Two of the best examples I can give are from my personal experience. When I completed my year as chair of the ASAE Components Section Council, which followed four years of service, I received a very fun jewelry box. The group knew of my penchant for fun jewelry and rewarded by service with a personal gift.

When my Dad died two years ago, I got a call from an ASAE staffer out of the blue offering sympathy and checking to see if I was okay and was there anything I needed. That recognition of me as an a person was greater thanks than I could ever expect.

5. How do you get rid of a volunteer that doesn’t produce?

Here’s the post I wrote on firing a volunteer but more often we are talking about redirecting or coaching a non-performing volunteer. One strategy is to start a conversation with the question “how do you think it’s going?” and follow-up with “are you enjoying the experience?” Then say there are a number of ways to fix the situation and ask them what they would propose.

It’s not easy, but what helps me is remembering that this was for the good of the whole and really for the good of the person.

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