Connections - Summer 2015 - (Page 16)

>VOLUNTEER RISkS AND BY LowELL APLEBAUM, CAE Volunteers. THEY CRAFT THE vision and strategic direction our organizations pursue. They provide insights into their field, ensuring the association is focused on providing solutions to the needs of today and those on tomorrow's horizon. They contribute hours, days, of their time - in truth exponentially expanding the amount of work any organization's staff could do alone. They take time from their families and their job to attend conference calls, to organize name badges, to provide fiscal oversight. They are our association's speakers, its authors, its subject matter experts, its leaders. They are the backbone of our organizations. Of course, that doesn't mean that within our volunteer structures there aren't perennial problems that arise. It is comforting to know you aren't the only organization experiencing these difficulties, but by the time they are a powerful pain point you're usually past the place when easier decisions could have been made to fix the situation. While each situation is unique, here are five of the most-often heard volunteer risks and some ideas on how to prepare to rescue your association from the situation. Risk: Volunteer Burnout We all have them - our rock star volunteers. The ones who are constantly stepping up and stepping in to help whenever, wherever. Yet, over time it is all too easy that when a committee is sliding off focus, or an important 16 Summer 2015 project is in need of a subject matter expert that we call on the same volunteer over and over. Whether the ongoing asks overwhelm their time, or the longer service eventually drags heavy, only by being proactive can we make sure that we protect our most valuable volunteers. Rescue: Track Volunteer Positions Configure your AMS/member database so you can track what positions volunteers hold and over what time. Besides serving as a means of measuring engagement, it will be easier to see if any one volunteer is over committed. Risk: Volunteers Holding on Too Long There can come a point where a volunteer, particularly if they are the initial Chair or Founder of a volunteer entity, retains that title and position so long that the volunteer group becomes better known as their own personal group. There are many paths that this can take - separate goals of the group from that of the larger association, a bottleneck of volunteer growth and ascension, or a tie to outdated strategy. These are the volunteers that even when it becomes the best interest of the group and the association for them to cycle out and allow for new voices, they continue to hold on to their position. Rescue: Term Limits Stop this problem before it starts. Though most Board positions have term limits as defined in by-laws, often this key provision is not included when a new volunteer entity is established. Creating consistent term-limits across all volunteer groups will set the general expectation of volunteer rotation. Risk: Not Enough Volunteers Perhaps there used to be a dense population of professionals that have migrated to other regions, or perhaps an ever-expanding portfolio of association programming has not had a volunteer recruitment and retention program that has kept pace. Every association depends on volunteers - both for strategic vision and industry insight as well as to provide needed hands to create and manage programs. A paucity of volunteer involvement can translate to association atrophy, and whether it is a committee or chapter, even to eventual disbandment. Rescue: Prioritize and Ease the Path Every idea may be a good idea, but they do not necessarily all have the same priority. When evaluating where volunteer efforts are needed, make sure that you have first prioritized those programs/areas of biggest impact. Next, put yourself in the mindset of a member: What would your volunteer recruitment/ placement experience look like? Would it be clear? Would it be easy? Would it make you feel appreciated from the first step? This outsidein approach can usually produce

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Connections - Summer 2015

Message from the Chair
GSAE News & Events
New Members
How to Build a Stronger Volunteer Program
Volunteer Risks and Rescues
The List: Micro & Ad Hoc Volunteer Jobs in Associations
Engaging Your Members with Mobile Technology
By the Numbers: Volunteering
2015 GSAE Annual Meeting
Destination: Nashville
Choices: A Quiet Conversation with a Dear Friend
Index of Advertisers

Connections - Summer 2015