Volunteer Study Packed with Aha’s

ASAE & The Center’s Decision To Volunteer study is packed with aha’s, told-you-so’s and myth busters. Read Ben Martin’s review of the book published by ASAE & The Center and authored by Beth Gazley and Monica Dignam (and thanks Ben for the appreciation of the “acting on the findings” section in key chapters which was the handiwork of a team including me largely from the Component Relations Section Council).

The book – now available at ASAE & The Center, is the kind of book that takes several reads. I was fortunate to be on the taskforce that reviewed the findings and helped produce the book, particularly in crafting the “acting on the findings” section at the end of most chapters. Still as I re-read chapters, I am drawn to new bits of info which I’ll share over time. As a starter:

Under the aha’s:

Volunteerism is like paid positions in yet another way .. its best to have an articulated career path for volunteering in your association. And this is not to be confused with succession planning! This is rather helping volunteers see not only progression but different opportunities that may in fact take them in different directions. When I look at my volunteering role with ASAE for example, I have just completed the chair position for the Component Relations Section Council, but I’m also in the writers pool. I may choose to explore greater role in governance or a series of adhoc roles.

Volunteers report they do so increasingly through workplace opportunities suggesting a stronger relationship between work and volunteering … or as the authors say “volunteering related to a profession is viewed increasingly as a virtue.” Does this suggest that we can use this in our volunteer recruitment messaging?

And now for a “told you so”: we have volunteers! The fact is that the average hours are decreasing (from about 4 hours/week to 1 hour/week according to the study which quotes Bureau of Labor Statistics 2008 and the Weitzman et al 2002 research). This probably gives the appearance of fewer volunteers. In fact we have – if the study is accurate – untapped pools of volunteers. Perhaps if we took the time to pare back the jobs, took large jobs and broke them into smaller ones and looked for more meaningful adhoc, one-up jobs,  we’d drawn in that untapped pool.

If you’re in San Diego, stop by the Decision To Lounge where we’re hosting a series of informal discussions, check out Beth Grazley’s session on Sunday at 1:30 and the learning lab on Monday at 2:30 PST. Not here in sunny San Diego? Check out Cindy Butts’s blog posting and ASAE’s three vodcasts .