Why organizations fail to develop great volunteers? Here’s the top 10 reasons why organizations fail to develop a great team of volunteer leaders.
1. A lack of vision
If you think volunteers can’t do anything important then you have no vision for the power of internally motivated, passionate people changing the world. Your vision of what the future can look like with a team of “free” leaders must change.
2. No plan
Developing great volunteers requires advanced planning. I will beat this drum until I die, as I will that you need to read the E-myth to help you figure out the bigger picture.
3. No Structure
One man or woman can not effectively lead an army by themselves. Think terms of teams with a ratio of 1 to 6. For every 6 volunteers you have you will need a leader in their midst, guiding the efforts, helping the whole to go in the same direction.
4. They take anyone
Don’t be mistaken. Just because people are volunteering doesn’t mean that you can’t be selective. Joining a team must come with a minimum standard of excellence, skills, character, chemistry and all the other things that you would look for as you build an awesome team.
5. They give out crap jobs
If interns get photocopy jobs, then volunteers are the ones asked to clean the bathrooms. This is such a piss poor approach and you will never attract top talent with this mentality. Do NOT be afraid to create genuine, meaningful leadership posts for volunteers. Your best volunteers will be top flight professionals who will actually be more talented than you so let them lead meaningful endeavors!
6. Eyes shut
Most organizations don’t keep their eyes open for leaders, and instead, they rely on recruiting volunteers with forms, webpages and please for “help”. This will not work. The very best leaders need to be recruited through relationships. You can’t retract into your organizational bubble and expect talent will find you.
7. No investment
People are people and should be valued as such. You are not a leader because of position but because of influence. Volunteers need encouragement, inspiration, and connection. These things come from you when you invest back into them. Don’t get caught up in the work, but rather get caught up in serving your best volunteers.
8. Lack of training
Showing a volunteer what to do on the day they show up doesn’t constitute training. Sure, hands on training is great, but simple questions like “how, why, best practices, and goals” all need to be addressed up front as much as possible. Training alleviates fear and builds confidence.
Volunteers are a consumable resource. The highest impact volunteers have very busy lives. Most of them will have 40-60 hours of their week already spent before they participate with you… You must keep this in mind. Plan ahead. Be ready. Make each hour that a volunteer is serving with you count.
10. High rates of staff turnover
Every time the key leader in the organization leaves and a new person comes in, you might as well expect that about 50% of your volunteers will leave within the next 12 months. Volunteers are motivated by missional impact and relationship with the leadership of your organization.
Don’t let reasons be why your organizations fail to develop a great team of volunteer leaders.