Volunteer Capital: Do you R.A.P?

collaborationHave you noticed all the  knowledge sharing  and strategies from thought leaders, managers, coaches, and consultants addressing the Upside of the Downturn.

It’s everywhere- on Guy Kawasaki’s  AllTop portal, in the New York Times new Happy Days BlogPsychology TodayInc. and many more on-line and print publications.

Human potential seminar leaders like Tony Robbins and T. Harv Eker have adjusted their content delivery in recent months to address the Upside of the Downturn.  It’s a strategic approach, and  it’s more than positive thinking.  (Hope alone is not a strategy).

The Value of Volunteering

One strategy that continues to emerge in various forms when examining the Upside of the Downturn is the increased focus given to the VALUE  of volunteering.

Like many of you, I started volunteering when I was 14.  I worked at one of the first recycling centers in the USA in a small community in northern Illinois 4 nights a week. The proceeds from our efforts helped fund our high school’s symphonic band’s performance at an International Youth Music Festival in Vienna, Austria. Since then I have volunteer with over 25 community organizations and businesses and have served on several boards of directors.

Last week I was invited again to deliver my High-Impact Volunteer Management™ seminar as part of the Performance- Focused Leadership Seminar series for Board Presidents, Directors and Committee Chairs for the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce  (42 chambers total).

Businesses and social-profits alike benefit from volunteer capital. One of the re-occurring challenges most organizations encounter is keeping good volunteers (including board members and committee chairs).

Keeping the Good Ones

As in the private industry, the best way to insure volunteer retention is to adopt a strategic approach with a Volunteer Recruitment and Development Plan in place in your organization or business. This includes targeted recruitment, a solid orientation program, low-cost, no-cost recognition, and a performance management/professional development plan in place that includes on-going feedback and performance reviews.

So what is the best way to develop on-going communication and feedback with volunteers?

It’s the  R.A.P. method:

REVIEW the PAST: Take a look at the performance objectives mutually created during the first 30 days of the volunteer’s on-boarding.

ANALYZE the PRESENT: Ask your volunteer what she feels are her major accomplishments in the past (X) months  (particularly as they relate to over-arching organizational goals).

PLAN the FUTURE: Ask your volunteer what changes/support she would like to see in the future.

If you are wanting to enhance volunteer performance and retention in your organization, be sure you can meet the following needs* of your volunteers:

  • I need a sense of belonging.
  • I need to be part of the organizational planning of our objectives.
  • I need organizational goals and objectives that are clear and obtainable.
  • I need to feel that what I am doing has real purpose and contributes to welfare of the organization and community at large.
  • I need autonomy and collaboration in setting standards for performance.
  • I need to know what is expected of me (not a laundry list of “duties”.)
  • I need to have challenging responsibilities within my range of interests and abilities.
  • I need feedback about my performance and our progress.
  • I need to be kept informed.
  • I need to have good rapport with and confidence in the leadership of the organization.
  • I need recognition, as it is due.

(The Volunteer Creed, adapted from The Effective Management of Volunteer Programs, Marlene Wilson)

Performance Management is an on-going year-round communication process undertaken in collaboration with a volunteer and her organizational leader(s).  With mutual goal setting, on -going communication, individual recognition, and the R.A.P method, your volunteers can become your organization’s  greatest evangelists.

Need help developing a High-Impact Volunteer Management Plan for your business, organization, or upcoming event? Please contact me for a complimentary (20- minute) consultation.