|"Volunteers, like employees (and children), need proper guidance and training in order for them to be a success in their job." Heidi Richards |
Recruiting volunteers is only half the challenge in any endeavor. You must properly train them so they will work out to be true assets. As we help volunteers recognize the rewards of their service, we must also acknowledge that there may be a downside. Volunteering takes time away from the family or personal pursuits. Good leaders" tell it like it is," being careful not to understate what is expected. Let your volunteers know up front exactly what is involved in their tasks and what is expected of them, and they will appreciate you for it. Personal contact is the key to more effective recruiting. While volunteers will respond to public invitations such as media announcements and ads, they respond more easily to personal invitations to become involved. Be careful that the persons being recruited are the right fit and not just saying yes to a good "sales pitch." Motivating volunteers means that they feel they are wanted and needed, are an important part of the organization, are accepted by the group and that they are contributing to the heart of the community. Enrolling new volunteers selectively with long-term commitment as the primary criteria will ensure that they are "motivated" from the outset. People like being appreciated. We all want to be recognized for our contributions. It makes us feel good when we are thanked for our efforts. Appreciated volunteers are more likely to continue to serve. Recognition should be commensurate to what the volunteer has achieved; it must be earned. False praise can be counter-productive and even offensive to some.
Service to others and a sense of achievement are other key components to motivating volunteers. There is a special satisfaction that goes along with making life a little less difficult for someone else. It makes us feel better about ourselves. When volunteers achieve their goals, telling them is only the beginning. Telling others in newsletters, press releases and conversation goes along way with enhancing a volunteer's commitment. Community volunteerism is about service to others. Leaders help volunteers recognize that their contributions of time, talent and treasure improve the quality of life of others as well as themselves.
In order to help your volunteers truly be a success, good leaders must help them to feel a sense of security, adventure and belonging. Volunteers must feel "safe" to make mistakes without feeling embarrassed or being harmed. We must make every effort not to put volunteers in situations that make them feel insecure, ill at ease or unprepared. The proper training programs will give volunteers the sense of security necessary to carry out their roles.
Many volunteers need new experiences and challenges in order to hold their interest. They like to be on the "cutting edge" of innovation and experiences. If we ask our volunteers to do the same old thing in the same way we've always done them, we may lose them. Some volunteers are natural joiners. The need to belong is so strong that sometimes we "bite off more than we can chew."However, most volunteers have a deep sense of satisfaction when they belong to organizations they can identify with. Leaders who continually remind volunteers that their involvement is worthwhile and valued will keep volunteers involved. Volunteers must feel that they are doing something important and that they are accepted. This produces motivated, committed volunteers.
© 2005 - Heidi Richards
About the Author
Heidi Richards is the author of The PMS Principles, Powerful Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business and 7 other books. She is also the Founder & CEO of the Women’s ECommerce Association, International www.WECAI.org (pronounced wee-kī) – an Internet organization that “Helps Women Do Business on the WEB.” Basic Membership is FREE. Ms. Richards can be reached at Heidi@speakingwithspirit.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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