10 quick tips for busy CEOs with Volunteers in their organizations
The life of any CEO is a busy one. If you are reading this then you have taken some time out to think about the volunteers in your organization. If you have mostly volunteers in your organization then you probably champion their effort a lot. If you have many paid staff and volunteers hopefully you champion both! Here are some quick tips for you to ponder.
- Resource your program: Do you have Volunteering Services as a Department in its own right with a budget. If not, consider it. Volunteering doesn't just happen. Effective programs are never for free.
- The Volunteer Manager: Have you got a Volunteer Coordinator who is the only person managing your organizations volunteers? Then they need to be your Volunteer Manager or Manager of Volunteers or Director or whatever title that suits most. They are not just coordinating. Is your HR boss the HR Coordinator?
- Hire Expertise: If you want to hire someone to manage your Finance team or Marketing team then you will look for a professional in their field with a proven track record. Volunteer Management is a profession. Treat it accordingly.
- Don’t fall for the “look after the Vollies” syndrome (LAVS): LAVS is when you decide to start a volunteer program or have one for awhile where you approach someone in your organization and ask them to “look after the Vollies”. They may be that lovely PA or that friendly office person or whatever fluffy person you have in mind. I have seen volunteer programs fail or underachieve because of LAVS. Read tip #3 again!
- Avoid the OAYITT speech: The Once A Year I’ll Thank Them Speech usually happens during National Volunteer Week or International Day of the Volunteer. This is where you stand up and ramble for a few minutes about volunteers being “The lifeblood” of your organization and what “lovely” people they are and that you “couldn't do without them”. You don’t realize that this may be the same speech you give every year and that the stitched on smiles sitting in front of you may be a telling sign. And the loud applause may be because you have finished talking. Get rid of OAYITT by engaging with volunteers across the year. In an authentic way. See Tip # 6 The LAVS and OAYITT speech are a deadly cocktail that when drunk can ruin volunteer programs.
- Highlight Volunteering: When you write in any of your publications do you mention volunteers? Do you contribute an article to the Volunteers Newsletter/ do you even have a Volunteer Newsletter? In emails to your staff with news or development do you say “Dear staff and volunteers”? Do you turn up at the occasional Volunteer meeting? Do you have volunteer meetings? Are any volunteers serving on any of your organizational committees? When I visit your website and see no mention of or link to volunteers then how seriously are you taking volunteer effort?
- Position your Volunteer Manager (VM): Does your VM sit on management committees and attend management meetings. If your answer is “No – they are a coordinator” see tip # 2 again please. Your VM probably deals with so many parts of your organization if they are utilizing volunteers. Utilize their knowledge and networks!
- Training: What type of professional development can your VM access? Do you invite them to leadership workshops with the other managers? Are you sending them to conferences and workshops on volunteering and volunteer management? Are you giving them time to network?
- Research: Allow your VM time to Research the Volunteerism world each week. Accessing the many sites online that deal with Volunteer Management should be a must do to keep up with current and emerging trends.
- And finally discover International Volunteer Managers Day: Surprise your VM on the day and tell them you did it after reading these 10 tips. http://volunteermanagersday.org/