What you say vs. what you do re: volunteers

You say volunteers are more than just free labor at your organization… but your annual report talks only about how much money volunteers saved (by showing how many hours they contributed and what this would have been in paid staff time otherwise).

You say you want committed volunteers that exude quality… but then you don’t respond to their emails or phone calls promptly, if at all.

You say you don’t have time to do this or that… but balk at the idea of allowing volunteers to take on any of those tasks.

You say you want steadfast, fully-invested volunteers… but you respond to every idea they have with, “At this time, we can’t address that/allow you to do that” or “We’re forming a committee to look into that – it’s employee only, however. Check back with me in six months.”

You say you want to engage more professionals as volunteers… but you don’t/won’t create volunteering opportunities in which those professionals might be interested.

You say you want your volunteers to represent the diversity of your community, or to reach under-represented groups… but you are unwilling to change your recruitment methods to reach different groups. “But this is how we’ve always done it!” or “I don’t have time to input every volunteering assignment into VolunteerMatch.”

You say you want volunteers to participate in decision-making… but you don’t invite volunteers to planning meetings, and don’t offer possible strategies up for discussion at volunteer meetings or on your online community.

You acknowledge that the best way to keep volunteers long-term is to create lots of short-term, “quick win” opportunities that keep them hooked… but you don’t create these short-term assignments regularly to attract new volunteers.

You want everyone at your organization to involve and value volunteers… but, as volunteer manager, you don’t push to work with staff regularly to help them create volunteer opportunities that support their work, or, as executive director, you don’t ask staff members to include their involvement of volunteers in their annual performance plan.

You say you want to be as valued at your organization the fundraising manager… but you don’t regularly, precisely show to all employees and the board how volunteers are as essential to the organization as financial donors.

You say you are a modern organization… but you still think of volunteers in terms of real volunteers and online volunteers.

One organization inspired this blog in particular, but to be honest, I’ve seen all of the above at dozens and dozens of organizations. You could substitute the word member for volunteer and it would read the same.

Now you be honest. Have I described your organization? Is what you say about volunteers at your organization matched by what you DO?

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