- I’m the one who convinces volunteers to stay after they are ignored or are treated poorly. Yep, that’s me calling volunteers to convince them that it was just a one-off or that a staff member had a bad day. It’s me you see when you walk by my office, sitting and having a long heart-to-heart with a volunteer. You may think that I’m just socializing, but in reality, I’m doing my job. I’m retaining a good volunteer who is on the verge of quitting.
- I may look like I’m just having fun but I’m hard at work ensuring the volunteers are connected to our mission. Uh, huh, it may look easy, but creating an inclusive, welcoming atmosphere is exhausting. I can’t have a down day; I have to be “up” and empathetic and positive at all times, no matter how I feel. I’m the one running all over town to get the balloons, ordering a cake, creating signs with positive messages that I say come from staff, but really it’s just me making them up because staff is too busy. I make sure I learn about every volunteer, their motivations and interests. I keep dates of volunteers’ birthdays in my head, along with their favorite books, or the heartfelt stories they tell me about clients. I juggle so much information because each volunteer wants to personally connect with our organization and most of the time, I am that connection.
- You may think I work 9-5, but actually, I’m recruiting volunteers and answering their questions at all hours, everywhere I go. Um, yes, I recruit at my kids’ soccer game when I meet a dad who has a big heart, at the gym when I meet a lady who is organized, and at my place of worship when I see a person who makes everyone feel welcomed. Besides, my open door policy means I am available to the volunteers whenever they need me. I’m not complaining, but don’t ever think that I’m not working at all hours towards creating an excellent department. I am. I just don’t broadcast all the things I’m doing. It’s not about me, but know I’m doing so much more than you can imagine.
- I can’t make volunteers do what they don’t want to do. Sigh. Nope, I can’t. Don’t forget, they’re not paid and I can only encourage, beg, convince, cajole, or promise so much. If your request is something they don’t want to do, well, they won’t. They know when I’m trying to “sell” them on an assignment. Volunteers are quite perceptive and I teach them to have boundaries and to not say yes to everything because it keeps them from burning out and we need them for mission centric work. I’d truly appreciate help with making sure volunteer assignments are worthy of our volunteers’ interests and skills so that we don’t drive them away. And actually, my time is better spent engaging our volunteers with meaningful work than trying to get them to do something no one wants to do.
- I know our volunteers’ potential and you need me to plan their involvement. Yes, it’s time you understand this. I know the volunteers inside and out and if you want them to support our mission, then I’m the one who can shape their roles so that it’s a win-win for all. The reality is, only I can design the roles our volunteers want to fill. I can create positions that make volunteers want to do more. I want our organization to succeed, and engaging our volunteers is a leap towards excellence. Let me be of greater service by planning our volunteers’ involvement together, with you.
There, I said it.