“If you want people to do a good job, give them a good job to do.” ~ Frederick Herzberg
In the words of the father of modern workplace motivational theory, it’s the job of leaders, not those they recruit, to design a work environment that inspires. How do you do that? Design volunteer placements that offer the opportunity for supporters to BOTH do their best AND strategically serve your mission.
The best way to achieve both is by purposefully aligning volunteer roles with your organization’s mission and mandate. This can often make the difference between excellence and mediocrity. Not only can you be more efficient with volunteer time, your supporters will gain a sense of agency and motivation when they see how their work has a direct, visible, and meaningful impact on your organization’s success.
7 Questions to Ask BEFORE You Make Volunteer Placements
To better align volunteer work with your mission, it makes sense to review the totality of your volunteer roles each year (the Fall is a great time to review and get teed up for the new year). Below are a few questions to ask — ask them of yourself, your leadership, your co-workers, and your volunteers. You may be surprised what you learn.
1) Does our organization’s overall mission and mandate still speak to a real community need & reflect what we do as a team, day in and day out?
2) Do we have established goals for volunteer involvement that are closely aligned with program or organizational goals?
3) Do our goals still adequately reflect the wording and intent of our mandate/vision/mission statement?
4) Are there any tasks that still aren’t getting done that are critical to mission fulfillment?
5) Are there any new functions we are ideally suited to undertake right now, if we had the resources and people to assign to them?
6) Are we ready to expand new roles for volunteers to help meet this need?
7) What recruitment, training, and program development might be needed to make these new roles a reality, and who will take the lead?
Nonprofits are continually evolving and how you involve your volunteer workforce should keep pace with your new goals and objectives. By taking a step back once in a while, you can strategically assess whether you are involving volunteers in a way that gains traction or is only in place because “we’ve always done it this way.” If it’s the latter, consider whether “towing the line” in service to tradition creates gains for anyone — you, your organization, your volunteers.