by Melanie Norton
Engaging donors and prospects in a volunteer capacity offers tremendous opportunities for many charitable organizations. Not only are volunteers an invaluable resource in terms of their time and expertise, but The 2012 Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy tells us that high net worth volunteers tend to give more, and more often, than those who don’t volunteer – especially to organizations where they feel their gift will have the largest impact.
Getting volunteers is one thing, but keeping them engaged in activity that is both meaningful and rewarding is another. How many times have you heard development and alumni staff say that managing volunteers is a full-time job? That may well be true, but it certainly doesn’t have to be a painful experience.
JGA does substantial work with organizations and their volunteers, particularly in terms of campaign work. We find that some of the most basic rules apply in terms of engaging your volunteers and truly equipping them for success. Think of your volunteers much like you would an employee you are going to hire:
Do you have a volunteer “job” description?
- Are the goals, objectives and basic expectations for the work clearly outlined?
- Do volunteers have a precise understanding of the time commitment involved?
- What information, experience or training do they need to be equipped with to effectively perform their duties?
- Who will assist and/or oversee the volunteers in their work? Where do they turn for help?
- What constitutes success not only for the organization, but for the volunteer?
You will find that doing some strong planning and ground work in the beginning of a project will reap a variety of benefits for your organization and go a long way in assuring satisfaction for your volunteers. After all, these dedicated stakeholders are closest to your organization and are committing the most precious resource they can’t replace…their time.