It’s National Volunteer Week and one of the ideas we floated last week for observing the celebration is to ask tough questions about how your volunteer program. That prompts the question:
What’s In Your Volunteer Management Program?
If you are like many associations the answer may be an incomplete list. Based on a 2012 survey of ASAE members*, most associations lacked in several important areas for an effective volunteer management program. [Here’s a link for a look at a checklist for effective volunteer management.]
Recruitment – Organizations primarily communicate available volunteer opportunities through mass emails (31.3%), word of mouth (20%) or on their main website (12.6%). While 46.6% have used an email distribution based on volunteer interest/skill inventory, only 11.8% report this as the primary communication vehicle. Few organizations – only 15% – report use of a volunteer portal or collaborative site. Oncology Nursing Society is one exception to this – visit their page.
Communications – Beyond recruitment, some organizations are employing technology solutions for managing and communicating with 45.5% offer an online collaboration tool.
Training – Most organizations provide at least some level of training for boards and more somewhat likely to offer at least a bare-bones level of training for components leaders and committees. Beyond that, organizations report limited or no training offered.
Measurement & Tracking – Most organizations do not survey volunteers; those that do generally focus on their satisfaction (44%) or motivation for volunteering (28%) or effectiveness of staff liaison (38%). Only some organizations currently or plan to measure the number of hours contributed (44.2%), the financial value of contributions (33.7%), compare the value of contributions to cost of supporting volunteers (29.3%), measure engagement of volunteers compared to overall membership (47.3%) or calculate the lifetime value of volunteers (23%). 61.8% did report surveying volunteers to solicit new ideas for programs/products/services.
Diversity – Most organizations are encouraging volunteer diversity, but 35.1% of respondents are not and efforts are largely informal and focused on young/emerging volunteers.
Micro-volunteering – most organizations over the traditional smaller volunteer roles, such as session presenter (91.8%), writer/blogger (80%); reviewing papers (65%); and awards judging (79.6%) and report an interest in or plans to expand these opportunities. Read this case study in microvolunteering by Lowell Aplebaum from the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society.
Staffing – Most organizations have staff managing volunteers as a secondary job responsibility. On average respondents reported 7 dedicated full time staff positions and 14 staff involved in managing volunteers, but not as his/her primary job function. The National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA) makes the case for have a dedicated volunteer manager: they grew volunteer ranks from 154 to nearly 800 (among a membership of more than 7,000) and report over all greater effectiveness. Read more.
All week we will explore issues and topics in volunteerism – what do you want to hear about?
*Survey was conducted as part of the ASAE/Executive Management Section Council “Rebuilding The Volunteer Spirit” initiative that is on-going. Join the conversation on ASAE Collaborate group of the same name (restricted to ASAE Members).