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We are at a junction. Volunteer past is meeting volunteer present and volunteer future. How will we treat each one going forward?

It’s too soon to know what changes will occur, but it is not too soon to start strategizing for a better present and future. Will we recruit new volunteers saying, “It’s a new day folks,” and by sweeping away the past, piss off all the volunteers who have stuck with us? Will we try to force all the new volunteers into old roles and methods and appear to not have gained any innovative insight from this crisis?

Volunteer past is an organization’s foundation. Honoring volunteer stories and accomplishments from the past means your organization has created a solid base and has laid an infrastructure on which to continue building.

I discovered long ago, that when seasoned volunteers spoke at volunteer orientation, new volunteers were impressed, but also thought, “Am I supposed to be like this volunteer or will I have my own volunteering path? Is there anything new to be done?”

Moving forward, modern volunteers need to get excited about their volunteering journey. Volunteers are looking at the future instead of being content with the present. It’s a subtle, but significant shift.

What does that mean for us then, when it comes to recruiting, sustaining and on-boarding new volunteers? It means balancing past volunteer methods, awards and accomplishments with present goals and visions for the future. It means setting the foundation and then inspiring new volunteers to put up the walls, or decorate the interior or construct another floor. It means focusing on moving forward.

What if you’re not an exciting start-up organization with endless possibilities? Introduce expansion, new programs and future visions to volunteers who may be wondering, “why do you need me?”

Nothing is more infectious than an inspiring vision that has movement. It gives volunteers an identity. It means that they won’t have to mimic volunteer past to make their unique mark.

Volunteer Past infused with Volunteer Future looks something like this:

“Our volunteers have won numerous awards for their work. But, we want to build on that and we need your unique passion.”

“Our volunteers gave 70,000 hours in the past 5 years. That’s why we can expand our innovative programs. That’s where you come in.”

“We’ve used this method for many years because it worked. Now, we are moving forward and you are part of the journey.”

A well-rounded volunteer understands volunteer past and looks to make their mark on volunteer present and volunteer future.

Our volunteers want to celebrate and understand the past, but own the future. Let’s give them both.


This is a more timely version of a past post: https://volunteerplaintalk.com/2018/10/03/volunteer-motivation-past-present-and-future/