Volunteers play an essential role in many associations, whether it’s helping to plan an event or serving on a committee. Over the past year, I served as the outsourced membership director for an association and had the pleasure of working with its membership committee. The volunteers’ commitment to the organization and the committee is amazing; I saw first-hand the results of their efforts. I wanted to recognize and reward these members for their dedication, but how could I do it?
The client-oriented culture at McKinley is contagious and I learned very quickly that everyone continually strives to deliver the most value possible to clients. Although I am relatively new in my career, I also want to be able to deliver that same level of client service, so I sought out opportunities to learn more about volunteer management. By learning more about managing volunteers, I wanted to deliver exceptional service to our client and enhance their members’ experience. I found ASAE’s online Volunteer Management course and colleagues at McKinley encouraged me to enroll. I recently completed the course and it taught me a great deal about how to recruit, retain and reward volunteers.
Knowing what motivates your volunteers is the key to making the experience beneficial to both the association and its volunteers. The question that begs to be asked is “What do you hope to give, and what do you hope to gain from this experience?” Common motivators include:
- Giving back to the profession
- Gaining opportunities to meet and work with other professionals in the field
- Learning new skills or gaining leadership experience
- Seeking a new challenge
- Pursuing personal interests.
A formal or informal survey of your volunteers’ skills and motivations and what they hope to get out of their experience will help you make it more rewarding. When I conducted short interviews with the membership committee I work with, I realized that one of the members is in business development for her company. She is a natural people person and is well connected in the industry, so I asked her to help me work a booth at a trade show. This role was a great fit for her because it allowed her to meet new people in the industry while helping the association. By determining volunteers’ skills and motivations, you will be able to utilize their talents and interests in a way that is relevant to them and beneficial to the association.
Recognizing and rewarding volunteers in a way that is valuable to them is another essential part of effective volunteer management. Read more about it in my next post, How to Recognize and Reward Your Volunteers.