Running an effective volunteering program has been a theme for a few nonprofits I am in touch with. Many find they are challenged to get volunteers to engage consistently. One summarized it beautifully, saying there is a difference between volunteering and voluntold. It is easy to say we have a need and ask the next person that comes along to fill the gap. It is bit like filling open seats on an airplane, just take the next available seat. The difference is that volunteering does not come with a contract or ticket. It is an expression of a gift, sharing time and talent to assist an organization.
Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless. ~Sherry Anderson
The great volunteering coordinators act like a concierge. They get to know their clients, understand their passions and motivations. Then they call on them when the perfect opportunity appears. There are always a few people who say yes to everything but a majority readily decline opportunities that appear too generic thinking somebody else will step-up. If you can engage potential volunteers with the right project you have taken an important step to deepening your cause’s relationship with an advocate. It is a lot of work up front but nothing is more powerful than a highly functioning system for recruiting and engaging volunteers. Daniel Pink identified autonomy, mastery, and purpose as the three keys for motivation in his book, Drive. Interestly, volunteering removes one of the greatest hurdles to motivation (compensation rewards). Take a moment to watch.