April 2017: Mutually Beneficial Volunteerism, Or Keeping Our Volunteers Happy

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 04.18.17 Jeff and Friends

A few weeks ago I received a new research study done by my professional association – the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). ASAE’s latest research is titled “Mutually Beneficial Volunteerism.” Like associations, clubs share the importance of volunteers in our organizational success, so I thought the research results might help you to spend a few moments to think about your club’s volunteer experience.

The research focuses on what factors most ensure that a volunteer makes a contribution to the organization, while at the same time, the volunteer receives personal satisfaction for volunteering. It makes sense and if this healthy, mutually beneficial system exists, your organization is likely to be more successful. What is interesting is that the healthiest volunteer environments also include:

  • A collaborative system where staff and volunteers trust and value each other;
  • A system where volunteers are well-matched with the skills for the roles they are asked to fulfill;
  • The volunteer experiences both personal and organizational satisfaction; and
  • An environment is created where the volunteer can see measurable results.

Don’t you think the above “healthy” factors would be essential in clubs too? Do you and your Board work to actively manage the volunteer experience? A big focus of the research and also a huge challenge was evaluation or appraisal of the actual performance of volunteers. Almost half of associations surveyed indicated they do not have a process to evaluate volunteer satisfaction; conversely, more than a third of volunteers said they wanted more feedback and more clear expectations. I must admit I struggle with volunteer evaluations as well as getting feedback from those who serve the Association. CMAA can do better and we will spend some time working toward how to provide a more effective volunteer feedback system in the future.

Some other take-a-ways for a healthy volunteer process include:

  • Having a Board liaison on committees;
  • Having strong cross-departmental coordination and cooperation among staff committee liaisons;
  • Having an organization-wide system to periodically invite all members to consider volunteering;
  • Having a system that ties committee work to organizational priorities or a strategic plan;
  • Ensuring there is effective communication to volunteers;
  • Having a fair process for volunteer selection and/or nomination that is based on merit and selection of the best volunteers, free from bias;
  • Having an orientation for volunteers with clear volunteer expectations; and
  • Ensuring that the schedule and time requirements for volunteers are considered reasonable.

Those who serve as volunteers also provided input in the areas that impacted their experience or noted areas for improvement:

  • Having confidence in staff liaisons;
  • Feeling valued and respected;
  • Helping volunteers feel like they’re giving back to the organization with a good sense of how the committee activities fit into the big picture;
  • Being more open and inclusive to newer and younger members serving as volunteers;
  • Confirming the Board liaison is interested and has passion for the committee’s work; and
  • Facilitating better information flow pre- and post-committee meetings, as well as during meetings.

I hope this blog topic gives you some ideas and thoughts to reflect on regarding your club’s volunteer practices. Many, including me, would say that healthy club governance creates better club environments for members and staff. Healthy club committees and volunteer experiences are certainly part of this equation.

As I end this month, I have one request: CMAA’s revamped Club Management magazine was unveiled this month. I hope you like the upgrades and additions! We want to share CMAA member, club and chapter news (promotions, interesting club projects and/or cool chapter outings) in every issue. Please send your news to goodnews@cmaa.org

Until next month,

Jeff Morgan

Posted by Karen Woodie at 04/18/2017 11:00:43 AM