Becoming a great organisation to volunteer for

Those of us leading churches or charities have a great blessing that we often rely on too much.  Most of the time we do not do it deliberately, we just slip into it over time.  The blessing that we have is that what we do is very important and people find it easy to become passionate about getting involved.  We rely on it too much when we treat those who serve in our organisations poorly and hope that they will not leave because the mission is too important.  If we adopted the same practices in a business we would find a very high turnover in our teams.

Mitch Ditkoff over at Idea Champions has done some quick research and come up with a list of the 27 best practices that high-performing volunteer organisations follow.  I have published the list in the full here because it is a fantastic tool for leaders in any kind of organisation:

1. Clearly (and often) communicate the vision.

2. Provide clearly written job descriptions.

3. Take the time to authentically welcome volunteers and orient them to their new role.

4. Ensure that volunteers know exactly what’s expected of them.

5. Start new volunteers off small. Don’t scare them off with too huge of a commitment too soon.

6. Keep the workloads manageable.

7. Communicate progress being made on a regular basis. Volunteers need to see that their efforts are having impact.

8. When there are setbacks or breakdowns, learn from them — and share your learnings with others.

9. Be prepared so you don’t waste people’s time.

10. Create a trusting environment that ensures open communication, teamwork, and respect for diversity.

11. Keep everyone on your team informed of the inevitable changes (i.e. direction, policy, timelines, goals, personnel etc.)

12. Provide opportunities for volunteers to switch to different roles they might find more enjoyable.

13. Give and receive feedback (both formally and informally).

14. Provide opportunities for volunteers to learn and grow.

15. Honor your commitments (and if, for any reason, you cannot — renegotiate them with volunteers).

16. Give volunteers the opportunity to take breaks from the project.

17. Make sure volunteers know they can say “no” if they are overextended or overwhelmed.

18. Enthusiastically acknowledge successes, especially “small wins”.

19. Be kind and respectful in all your interactions.

20. Do your best to make sure everyone is enjoying the process of participating.

21. Respond to input, questions, and feedback as soon as possible. Don’t leave people hanging.

22. Build some interpersonal “chat time” into your meetings and conference calls.

23. Teach volunteers, in leadership positions. how to delegate.

24. Even when you are stressed or behind deadline, take the time to make sure your emails have a feeling of warmth to them.

25. Fill out Project Briefs on all projects you are inviting volunteer participation — and share them with volunteers.

25. Conduct exit interviews whenever a volunteer ends their participation or is asked to step aside.

26. Share your learnings from the exit interviews with other managers.

27. Follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Here is a link to the original article, The Best Practices of High Performing Volunteer Organisations.  Why not head over there are look at some of the other great articles.

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