Thursday, November 11, 2010

Six Rules to Prevent the Torture of Volunteers

In my previous post I implored the reader to "quit torturing your volunteers." Today I will offer six rules that can help prevent this from happening.

1. Make it rewarding in their terms: Start by asking, “What’s in it for the Volunteer (WIIFTVs)?”  If there aren’t any WIIFTVs, it’s simply not worth asking your members to volunteer their time and energy.

2. Catch volunteers doing things right: Look for ways to acknowledge success and a job well done. Make your feedback  positive, immediate and concrete.

3. Build bridges to the future: Invest the time, now, in building volunteer relationships that might pay off a year or two down the road.

4. Write the dictionary together: Listen carefully to the needs, hopes and aspiration of volunteers. Listen for the key words that define what success will look like and build upon that vocabulary.

5. Keep it simple: If you, or a volunteer, can’t explain it in a sentence or two, it’s probably too complicated.

6. Make volunteers and the association a solid hero: Recognize success and hard work and show genuine appreciation. It’s okay for staff to be excited when volunteers do a good job.

Paying attention to these rules is simply a way of paying close attention to your volunteers, what kind of experience they are having and focusing on outcomes that matter to your members.

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