10 Commandments for Volunteer Management

The list starts off fairly simply with “Know Thy Membership” but ends with a bang on “Don’t write-off non-volunteers”. The latter may well be one of the most important commandments. The list is Beth Grazley’s 10 Commandments for improving your volunteer program shared at the end of her Thought Leader Session on The Decision To Volunteer study undertaken by ASAE & The Center last fall.

I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in the project from the beginning and spent the better part of today at the Annual Meeting immersed in discussions and sessions on the topic. I was drawn by Beth’s 10 commandments and in particular the 10th. Beth shared with attendees the basic research findings which included information on non-volunteers such as the fact that there are both controllable and noncontrollable reasons that members don’t volunteer. Things like time constraints and family and professional responsibilities are uncontrollable but not personally asking, not being clear on opportunities and lack of virtual and adhoc opportunities are controllable reasons. This is important to consider because some 50% of the members responding in the study say the volunteer for other organizations but not associations … so we’re missing the boat.

Can we bring these non-volunteers in? Certainly if we get to know them better and if we are committed to breaking down the barriers – like being more clear on the opportunities available and in establishing one-on-one recruitment. In one discussion, we talked about running a Volunteer-Get-A-Volunteer campaign. MGAM campaigns have been a staple of associations – can we adapt that model? Perhaps the question is can we afford not to?