charities, managing volunteers, NGO, non-profit, organizations, volunteer, volunteer coordinator, volunteer management, volunteering
New Year’s resolutions? Who keeps them? Anybody?
There’s a whole science out there that studies why we make resolutions and the deep psychological implications of why we don’t keep them. It’s called FeelGoodForOneMinuteAfterMidnightEveryYearology and researchers have forged careers observing this phenomenon.
There are so many reasons why we fail to keep our resolutions including:
- we have unrealistic expectations
- we hate being told what to do, even if we are the person doing the telling
- our motivations are not in sync with the resolution
- habits are very hard to break
- we don’t like change or we’re afraid of change, or we’re resistant to change or we can’t change or we don’t know how to change or we think change will actually change us and we’re pretty much ok with who we are at this point in life. (fine, I made that last one up.)
The point is, there are lots of factors working against us, even if we have the best of intentions. We make resolutions to feel good, at least for the moment. Hmmmmmm, kind of like that second cupcake hidden under the covers…
So, if we aren’t going to keep our resolutions anyway and the whole resolution thing is about instant gratification, then why don’t we just make enormous impossible, overblown hidden cupcake resolutions and feel super good for an instant, right? Yeah!
With that in mind, here are my Volunteer Manager New Year’s ENORMOUS, IMPOSSIBLE, OVERBLOWN HIDDEN CUPCAKE resolutions for 2018.
- The next time I’m in a staff meeting and the discussion turns to new year housekeeping which means shredding all the reports that are over seven years old and someone says, ‘I know, let’s get a volunteer to do it,” I’m going to flip the table over, spilling all the caramel macchiatos and cinnamon lattes, and storm out, fist raised, yelling, “I’ll bet you want volunteers to clean up this mess too!”
- I’m going to wear a Guy Fawkes mask and make my own protest sign that reads, “Volunteers are No Longer the Tools of Your Authoritarian Requests in 2018” and stand in front of my building every day until my list of demands are met. I won’t bathe, so this should end pretty quickly. My list of demands includes designating all the upfront parking spots, “For Volunteers Only, Because Their Time is Valuable Too” and renaming the office building “Volunteer Towers, The Office that Volunteers Built.”
- I’m going to put together a “Staff Appreciation Luncheon” this year instead of a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. The volunteers will walk around, and they will flippantly throw out phrases such as “we couldn’t do the work without the help of staff,” and “we love our staff, no really, we do.” The volunteers will all sit together at the front table, eat their lunch while chatting and ignoring everyone else and then they will excuse themselves before any awards are given out, claiming that they have “important work to do.”
- I’m going to rip up all my ROI reports and next time I have to present stats, I will calmly get up and say, “in lieu of standard reports, I am going to sing a song about volunteers, in hopes that you feel their value in your heart and not on paper, which really does no justice to all the intangibles they bring.” I’ll proceed to sing “You’ve Got a Friend and change the word friend to volunteer. I’ll sing every verse acapella, although I might be able to coerce volunteer Gordie into accompanying me on his harmonica, just for added effect.
The lyrics go something like this:
You just call out my volunteer name, if you know what it is, and you know wherever I am like at work or even at my own wedding
I’ll come running or maybe I’ll drive or take the bus cause the car’s in the shop to volunteer again
Winter, spring, summer, or fall or during last-minute events that you forgot to tell me about until the morning of
All you got to do is call or email or even send me a letter where you misspell my name again and I’ll be there to volunteer
You’ve got a volunteer
Ahhh, I’m not going to lie, those resolutions felt pretty darn great, at least for the moment, but I know I won’t be keeping them, except for the hidden cupcake, that is.
So, now what?
How about, we just make a resolution to work together to keep the momentum from 2017 going.
We most definitely can keep that one. Cheers to an even brighter 2018.
Jo Gibney (@JoGibney) said:
Point 2 is particularly pertinent – I struggle to do the things I tell myself to do!
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Thanks Jo, I think we all struggle with that one. And I think prosepctive volunteers struggle with that too, sadly-“I really, really, really want to give back” but the follow through just doesn’t quite make it happen. If we can figure that follow through out, we’d solve a whole lot of challenges!
Stacy Ashton said:
For points one and two, I’ve built a hilariously effective program called the Office Heroes.
When people contact me for office work opportunities, or general opportunities, and they have irregular schedules, a short commitment time frame, or skills that don’t fit anywhere else, I offer them the Office Hero program. When shredding or mail-outs or a filing backlog or inventory or any of a wide range of “I don’t want to do this” tasks come up, I package it as an Office Hero opportunity and email it out. So far I have about 40 volunteers on this list.
Volunteers ****love**** this. Usually I have opportunities filled within 20 minutes, plus an inbox of sad faces from volunteers who responded too late.
Staff ****love**** this. But the hilariously effective part is I get to hold access to Office Heroes hostage against good management and supervision practices of staff. Staff fill out a request form detailing the task, which forces them to think the task through.
I help staff improve the task – by adding more work, or making the work they want done clearer. Volunteers give feedback on every task, to “help us be more efficient and clear in organizing tasks”.
I quickly find out who can handle volunteers and who can’t. I can talk directly and specifically to staff whose tasks don’t go well about how to plan for and manage volunteers.
And it’s great for engaging teenage volunteers and volunteers with support needs – volunteers who staff tend to underestimate. Our teen volunteers are smarter than most of us, AND bring us homemade cookies, so this has caused a 180 in how staff view younger volunteers.
And it’s extremely low maintenance for me – it actually saves me time because I have an easy way to engage volunteers who I would otherwise have to turn away or create work for, and it creates a pool of office-ready volunteers who can be recruited into projects or event support.
And when I bug staff for tasks and remind them how eager people are to support the work and this mission, general office morale improves.
Now I spend time begging staff for “I don’t want to do this” tasks because my volunteers want them so much.
Thank you Stacy for sharing your Office Hero program with us, it sounds like a great way to engage a very diverse group of volunteers. And the follow up with staff is an excellent way to share feedback and improve upon task management. Love the name Office Heroes!
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