For the past couple of weeks I have been writing about how leaders within nonprofit organizations can keep their volunteers long-term. Today’s post focuses on how leaders of volunteers can keep volunteers at their organization by continually connecting the volunteers’ work with the cause and purpose of the nonprofit organization.
It is essential, in both theory and practices, that volunteers experience a feeling of engagement or an energetic and affective connect with their work. Rather than seeing it as stressful and demanding, they should view it as challenging, interesting, and enjoyable. If so, they will feel good about themselves and committed to their organizations. This is an ethical strategy for nonprofit organizations to use to retain volunteers over the long term and a possible way for volunteers to feel happier and for society to improve. Vecina and Chacon, “Volunteer Engagement and Organizational Commitment,” p. 300
Effective leaders know how to connect well with people, listen, resolve conflict, and speak in a way that others can understand. Not everyone is able to do this.
In the context of nonprofit work and church ministry the skills I’ve listed above are even more important since most of the people being led are volunteers. Because of this, leaders need to be extremely good at motivating, guiding, and encouraging the people they lead within their nonprofit or church.
Those intangible skills of leadership can be categorized into what is called “Emotional Intelligence.” In today’s post I share what Emotional Intelligence is and how you can use it to be a better leader.
Little affirms human dignity more than honest work. One of the surest ways to destroy self-worth is subsidizing the idleness of able-bodied people. Work is a gift, a calling, a human responsibility. And the creation of productive, meaningful employment fulfills one for the Creator’s highest designs. Because of that, it should be a central goal to our service. Robert Lupton, Toxic Charity
One thing that changed drastically when I stopped leading A Day of Hope and turned over the reigns to the new team of leaders was that they changed “who” the volunteers were.
In my five years of leading A Day of Hope the primary volunteers I recruited were teenagers who had required community service hours, college students, and adults with kids. Those were the three groups I often sought out as potential volunteers to support our work in the community.
However, when Enclave Community Church began to lead A Day of Hope they enlisted the help of clients to serve as volunteers. This was a group of people which I never thought to or attempted to recruit as volunteers.
For several years Enclave had been running their weekly food program mostly through the work of volunteers, and most of those volunteers were clients in their program. The same people who were receiving a grocery bag of food every week were the same people who were going to the food bank to get the food, organizing it, preparing it to be given away, and then doing the cleanup work after the distribution of food.
Doing ministry with volunteers who are also the clients of the program looks different, but it can be done. In today’s post I show you how the clients of your nonprofit/church program can serve as volunteers.
Opportunities to volunteer must be expanded to all segments of the community—it is consistent with the concept of equal opportunity. Instead of being the privilege of the already privileged, volunteering must become the right of everyone: minorities, youth, seniors, the handicapped, blue-collar workers, business people, the disadvantaged. Remember—those who understand the culture and lifestyles of those you are trying to recruit make the best recruiters. Marlene Wilson, The Effective Management of Volunteer Programs, p. 118
Recruiting, screening, and interviewing volunteers is vital for the success of most nonprofit programs and church ministries. Sometimes when recruiting volunteers it might be necessary to interview volunteers in order to discern where the volunteer would be most helpful. In today’s post I give you some tips on how to interview potential volunteers.
If you work for any type of church or nonprofit organization you know that recruiting volunteers to help with your ministry is difficult. People are busy, have limited time, and often already have commitments to other organizations besides yours. In this post I will show how you can recruit more volunteers by casting wide and deep in your volunteer recruitment efforts.
I. 2 Elements of Wide and Shallow Volunteer Recruitment
Opportunities to volunteer must be expanded to all segments of the community—it is consistent with the concept of equal opportunity. Instead of being the privilege of the already privileged, volunteering must become the right of everyone: minorities, youth, seniors, the handicapped, blue collar workers, business people, the disadvantaged. Remember—those who understand the culture and lifestyles of those you are trying to recruit make the best recruiters. Marlene Wilson, The Effective Management of Volunteer Programs, p. 118
My research led me to discover that there are six common reasons that nonprofits have trouble recruiting volunteers.
Too many willing-hearted volunteers have been wounded “on the job.” They’ve responded to an invitation to serve, only to end up in a volunteer position that was poorly conceived, resulting in tasks that few people would find fulfilling. Or they show up to serve and discover they have nothing to do; an underprepared volunteer coordinator has wasted their time, causing them to lose precious hours they had willingly carved out from their busy schedule. Some work hard on menial tasks without ever hearing how their efforts serve a grander cause; they’re given plenty of work, but no vision. Others have felt overwhelmed by unreasonable demands for which they’ve not received proper training; rather than being set up to win, they get put on the express lane to frustration and failure. Many have been hurt when a coercive leader drafted them to “fill a slot” without considering their gifts or talents or what they love to do. Some have given hours—maybe even years—in volunteer service to an organization or church, without receiving a single thanks. Bill Hybels, The Volunteer Revolution, p. 25
1. Lack of training for staff working with volunteers
In May I implemented a new principle with all volunteers who decide to dedicate their time to A Day of Hope. I always want to make sure I develop all my volunteers so that they have a great understanding and feel for what A Day of Hope has done in the past, and what we’re working towards in the future. I’ve also been looking for ways I can use our volunteers in areas that they can contribute and help the most. Areas where they can use their natural strengths and talents to help us feed as many families as possible.