Is is enough for volunteers to get the job done?

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Last week we had an office full of volunteers. The mission was to check-in and validate entries for the awards program. Two volunteers arrived early. Another joined very soon after. Three volunteers arrived late. One sent a last minute email apology. Another – well just didn’t. The job got done.

This is not an unusual situation. We all face this at the chapter level.  The question then is – can you call this successful?

Bottom line the job got done.

I should mention, based on the interaction during the “event”, that fun was had. Relationships were cemented.

I’d say it was successful for three reasons:

  1. The job was done.
  2. Fun was had.
  3. A few new faces were in the group.

I’d say it was also unsuccessful for two reasons:

  1. The weight behind the event was provided by two diligent volunteers for whom without we may not have accomplished the job.
  2. There were no-shows and late-shows.

This gets into a sensitive area. The reality is though that we put a lot of pressure on our super volunteers and we don’t always put the right sense of urgency or importance on our ad-hoc volunteers. What went wrong here was in many ways that we simply followed the adage of “this is the way it’s aways been done” and leaned on a few super-volunteers to get the job done. What if we had turned the job over to a couple of total newbies with well-written procedures? That would have underscored the importance and transferred the responsibility. That may have generated good questions about the procedures which in turn could perfect the process. Who  knows! But we missed the opportunity this year.

How many times do you in your chapters lean on super volunteers and get the job done and miss the opportunity all the same?

Mariner Management & Marketing provides association management, volunteer coordinator and leadership development information for associations and non-profit organizations.