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October 24, 2005

Volunteers: Quality vs. Quantity

Even if it isn't stated explicitly as a core strategy here at VSCPA, we strive to be a very open and inclusive association. One of our tactics to achieve that goal is to make our volunteer recruitment process as open and transparent as possible.

However, an inevitable consequence of a volunteer recruitment procedure as accessible as ours is that you get some junk volunteers. People who fail to follow through on projects -- even small, finite tasks. I even start the wheels turning on some things, but they don't follow through. Some volunteers don't even bother to attend meetings and/or conference calls.

We train our volunteers. But I believe no amount of volunteer training can change a person's willingness/ability to follow through on projects. You're either conscientious about doing what you say you'll do, or you're not. Besides, these types don't show up for the training anyway.

Those who don't perform get vetted out within a year, but they hold up projects in the meantime.

This is one of my major struggles right now. The pool of volunteers is shrinking. I need to groom new ones. The desire to be inclusive and take as many volunteers as will state their interest is strong. But what do I do about the volunteers who need a jump start every month?


Anonymous said...

Think about what drives you to volunteer. Maybe the carrots aren't big enough.

That, and set yourself reminders to remind the group. Our BOD members are "strongly encouraged" to write monthly letters (for an email blast)to members in their regions. I've tried various reminder methods but the best results have come from three group reminders. Thanking each of those who have already submitted their letters, making it obvious that to be on the "thank you" list, I need everyone to produce. I also occasionally send Outlook appointments for common (montly) deadlines. I plant their reminders for them. It can get pretty tiresome, but most of them have personally thanked me for keeping on top of it.

A day in the life, I suppose...

Somewhere in Indiana

Ben said...

Thanks, Anon, for the advice. I do much of what you suggest already, but the monthly letters idea is intriguing. We certainly could be doing more to thank our volunteers. Of course, if they're not doing the work, what are we thanking them for? Don't get me wrong, I have several very good volunteers, but I have my fair share of underperformers too.