The Reluctant Volunteer

Looking back through my emails, I found this piece posted in the Baltimore Business Journal – 5 questions to ask before taking on a volunteer commitment. It’s a response to a question posed by a CEO who was trying to encourage his leadership team to volunteer for their professional associations as a way to build the brand. The CEO was getting some push-back from his team who felt volunteering is often a waste of time and of no true value. The response was on target by suggesting that potential volunteers do some homework and interview the association before fully jumping in.

We’d like to add one tip to the list. Many volunteers are reluctant to take on a committee or board position because they aren’t sure about the level of involvement they want to commit to until they can get a better idea of the association. Our advice is to ask about small, adhoc or micro jobs. It’s a great way to test the waters.

One of our associations does just this by offering a number of micro-jobs with the time-constraint volunteer in mind. For example, we ask people to submit a blog post once in a while. Another great way is to serve as an on-site event volunteer by helping with set-up, greeting attendees, answering questions etc. The caveat is that the volunteer will not only be helping, but will also be at the center of some great networking opportunities. Other jobs can include making phone calls to new members, planning a single event and much more.

Volunteering for your professional association shouldn’t be a drain on your time. It should fun and rewarding. And with the right planning and motivation, it will be all that and more.

What questions do you think potential volunteers should ask before committing?