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The Top 3 Things We Learned From National Volunteer Week

Written by Caitlin Struhs | on April 23, 2015 at 11:45 AM


Last week was chock-full of events and activities for 2015's National Volunteer Week. If you feel like it went by in a flash and you may have missed something great, head over to our Learning Series post-webinar page—it includes all sorts of volunteer tips, advice and reviews.

In the meantime, we’ve pulled together our favorite volunteer tactics we learned from two leading innovators on the topic: Peggy Hoffman, CAE, of Mariner Management, and Elizabeth Weaver Engel, M.A., CAE, of Spark Consulting. How do you reward and recognize volunteerism in your organization today? Employing new volunteerism concepts like adhocracy, micro volunteering and virtual volunteering can demonstrate real world impact if you are looking to involve new members and users.

Here's our top three:

1. Mind Your R's.

In any volunteer program, it's important to remember two things: recognize efforts and reward outcomes. Your tasks would never be completed without the hard work and generosity of your volunteers, so take into account what motivates and really matters to them. Also be wary of the unintended consequences of undeserved praise or excessive Thank You's.

2. Build a Culture of Valuing Volunteers.

Every organization has a culture, which is the sum total of values and beliefs that drive action. Your culture is about the way you conduct your business, treat people, make decisions, share information and power and go about achieving your goal, and it affects EVERYTHING you do. To intentionally create a culture that values volunteers, you need to offer options that suit everyone, manage your volunteers well and professionally and provide appropriate, personalized appreciation.

3. Create a Volunteer Continuum.

Newer concepts such as micro or ad hoc volunteering can help organizations develop a pipeline of potential volunteers—it's a low level of commitment at a higher volume. This doesn't mean the quality of volunteers goes down; rather the opposite, it rethinks the traditional path and honors all types of volunteers equally. For example, Boomers won't "graduate" form your board of directors and feel like they can't contribute anymore, Generation X won't have to adjust career and parenting roles for traditional commitees and Millennials won't have to fight against a lack of authority or senior-level influence to be allowed to help. Every role is productive for the organization, with options for volunteers to flow in and out of different types and levels of commitment as their lives permit.

Read all of Peggy and Elizabeth’s volunteer tactics and methods in Higher Logic’s new tip sheet: 5 Tips to Supercharge Member Loyalty & Power Community Engagement.

Topics: Volunteer Management

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