Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Volunteers

I've heard many in leadership lamenting about the lack of volunteers.  If you lead a church or other non-profit, or are in direct sales, you lead an army of volunteers.  Sometimes, your volunteers will not hit you over the head with their willingness to serve.  Sometimes, they will.  Are you ready to mentor them in their volunteer position so that they will be successful?  Do you follow through with them while enthusiasm is high?  I think we all believe we do.
About two years ago, I volunteered with a non-profit in the Quad Cities area.  It took several weeks just to be able to get through to the correct person to volunteer my services with.  I was invited to attend an open meeting, where I spoke of the service that I was willing to provide.  Although there was much agreement that my service would be a great addition to the service they were providing, and several follow up calls on my part, I never was given the opportunity to volunteer.
After I moved to the Des Moines area, I volunteered with my church outreach program.  I was turned over to the director of the program who e-mailed that she would love to meet with me to talk about where I could help.  After I have initiated many attempts to schedule this meeting, my services are still not being used (several months later).
What poor leadership this is!  I was practically begging to get involved with these organizations, and I was met with little more than apathy.  Here's what happens to your volunteer pool - they either volunteer somewhere else, or they stop volunteering.  Ouch!
Sometimes we have volunteers that we forget to train properly so that they can succeed, or we don't help them along when they need it, or we don't show how much we appreciate everything that they do.  If these volunteers are not self-motivated, we lose them, too.  Are you treating the volunteers around you with the respect that you would like in return?  Or are they "tired" and ready to take some time off of volunteering?  Do you have people volunteering, but you're just not recognizing them?  Look around - are you missing an opportunity?

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