A special column for executive directors and college presidents
“I guess I’ll have to do it myself. I can’t depend on anyone. People say they want to help, but…”
If you find yourself doubting the power, ability and leverage that volunteer leaders provide, we ask you to think again. Yes, it takes consistent time and energy to work with volunteer leaders. You have to keep them informed and up-to-date. Many will want to talk with you by phone or meet in person. Some will share stories of “how things used to be,” and others may not really understand your priorities.
That’s part of life and part of engaging volunteers. There is no magic wand to wave so that people instantly know what you are thinking and strategizing, questioning and pondering. You have to schedule time to work with leadership level volunteers. Here are seven ways to energize our volunteer leaders.
- Have a clear, concise and compelling case for support. That’s a “deck,” brochure, or short PowerPoint that clearly communicates what you are selling in the philanthropic marketplace.
- Develop and share well defined roles and responsibilities for each volunteer. People need to know what they are responsible for, what is expected of them, and how they can take coordinated action on behalf of your organization.
- Take the time to account for volunteer hours. Establish a way to record and account for volunteer hours. Show the value of these when telling the story of your organization or institution.
- Think outside the box. Take the time to strategize on how to engage leadership-level volunteers in ways that are exciting, creative and fun.
- Develop your plans. Make sure you have a well-defined strategic plan, business plan, and fund development plan. If you don’t have these, engage your leadership in developing them.
- Be prepared to support your volunteer leadership. When volunteers know they will be supported by responsive, experienced and skilled support staff, they are more willing to extend themselves and their networks.
- Make sure you have recruited the right volunteers. Success requires the right match between individual and responsibility. When you want to engage your community’s stakeholders, be sure your volunteers are people of power, wealth and influence.
There really are people who want to support you. Invest in your volunteers and uncover a core of energized individuals who can strengthen your organization or university in ways you could not anticipate.
Copyright 2017 – Mel and Pearl Shaw
Mel and Pearl Shaw are authors of four books on fundraising available on Amazon.com. For help growing your fundraising visit www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.