There is no easy answer to fixing the volunteer pool but the answer really isn’t complicated either. At issue is that our approach is too often reactive not proactive. We look to fill empty seats instead of building an engaged membership. One way to shift gears is to think of this as building a farm team … a feeder system like we see in sports. If we are like that baseball talent scout we would be on the search for that budding star, draw them in and nurture them.
How can we do this? Consider creating a Volunteer Talent Team. This is your HR team that actively seeks "talent" and matches them to jobs. The team can be led by a "coordinator" (here are a couple of job descriptions) and have a team of "talent scouts." The goal is to develop a talent pool and a "pool of activities". This pool of activities should include big and small jobs. It should offer variety. The focus is on connecting members. Here’s a resource on creating that pool.
This concept of volunteer coordinator or talent scout isn’t new. Most community service organizations have this as a paid position. Idealist.org is a good source for information on the career. It is adaptable as a volunteer role. We share some job descriptions and input from chapters and small associations in our Chapter Resource. For small or larger associations, this volunteer committee could be the new nominating committee. One association, NIGP: The Institute for Public Procurement, recently established a Talent Council which provides a unique component to its newly envisioned governance. Its role, to paraphrase Jim Collins, is to get the right people in the right seats on the bus. Essentially, the Talent Council proactively recruits, prepares, and assesses the leadership on NIGP’s Board, Councils, and committees. The Council also implements an on-going leadership development program as well as a leader succession plan.
Whether a paid or volunteer position, the role is changing (I wrote this post on the topic). And the role can be a catalyst for change as shift from a traditional volunteer model to one that emphasizes engagement at many levels.
Are you game to don the talent scout hat?