Implementing the New Volunteer Model

Elizabeth Engel and I are on a bit of a road tour to advance the idea that we in the association biz can attract and enthrall the new volunteer. We began our tour with the February 19th ASAE Components Relations Roundtable. Then we were on to a great Higher Logic Learning Series Webinar: Mission Driven Volunteer, February 27 (here’s the link & handouts) followed by our session at Great Ideas on March 10th.
Next stop is California Society of Association Executives Elevate Conference (our session is Wednesday, March 26 if you’re there!) before the 9th Annual Bridge to Integrated Marketing and Fundraising Conference in July.

You can view our “basic” slide deck here and a Q&A follow-up from the Higher Logic webinar posted on Elizabeth’s blog. And of course the little paper that started it, The Mission Driven Volunteer is a free download here.

One of the questions we continue to get is how to implement this new model. There are a number of ways to do this and it’s really about finding the way that works for your association. In our white paper, we shared the stories of Maryland CPAs and Oncology Nursing Society both of which viewed the opportunity as one to rethink – and restructure – from the top-down. Many groups though can start small by creating accessible volunteering.

Accessible volunteering is “opportunities that are available when I’m available”. So to create accessible volunteering it means creating opportunities that are virtual or that take place where I am (or going), or are not time-sensitive. Five examples from my recent trip to Great Ideas that fit these criteria are:

  1. Meeting marketing – I was invited to create a super short video promo for my session which ASAE used to market (check these out). Another staffer invited any registrant to use a pdf sent my email to write out my learning goal for the conference and tweet the picture. Both are virtual duties which I gladly did.
  2. Beta testing a mobile meeting app – ASAE invited attendees to beta test an app during the conference. I signed up too late but others were enjoying the opportunity which was an easy on-site, “at the meeting I’m attending” opportunity.
  3. Member of a meeting focus group – Here’s another on-site, “at the meeting I’m attending” opportunity where attendees (pre-selected) are given the task of capturing the experience and sharing this is a debrief session held at the close of the meeting. I had this great idea and when I mentioned it to a colleague they are already doing this under the name of Monitoring Committee and it works!
  4. Writers Pool – this actually falls under the “oldie but goodie” category. I joined the email-based ASAE writer’s pool years ago and heard in our Great Ideas session that other associations are now doing similar. Essentially I get this almost monthly email that I can but don’t have to respond too … making this a non-time sensitive job.
  5. On-site Volunteers – Kudos to CalSAE for this idea. While I was at Great Ideas, I received a friendly email, sent to all CalSAE Elevate attendees, inviting me to “choose a slot that fits my personality”. It included a link to a Google Doc to view and sign up for short-term volunteer duties.

I’m sure Elizabeth and I will discover more ideas as our road trip continues! (By the way, you can book us to share this story at your conference!)