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Volunteering should be mutually beneficial

Volunteers are crucial to organizations, especially when it comes to events. But volunteerism needs to benefit both parties.

One of the perks for volunteers is networking according to a recently released report by the ASAE Foundation.

The foundation partnered with Mariner Management and Whorton Marketing and Research to learn more about enhancing volunteer management systems.

According to the report, volunteers make up 20 to 25 percent of an organization’s workforce, averaging 67 hours per year per volunteer.

The report found staff and volunteers want a program that is:

  • Collaborative and symbiotic: Staff and volunteers are recognized as a fully integrated component of the organization and view each other as trustworthy, dependable partners.
  • Satisfying: Volunteers experience both personal and professional satisfaction.
  • Optimized: Volunteer skills and capacity are well-matched to the roles they are asked to fulfill.
  • Valuable: Volunteers deliver meaningful, measurable value to the mission and the organization.

In fact, a good volunteer management system incorporates many of the same principles as a human resources system: job design, recruitment, selection, training, ongoing management, assessment and recognition.

The study also found that between 55 and 59 percent of current, former or chapter-only volunteers are involved for education and professional development. At the same time, 21 percent of current volunteers ranked in-person networking as most important.

Perhaps not surprising, 50 percent of organizations report having to accept volunteers who aren’t as committed or qualified, and some of that could be because 70 percent of association members have never volunteered. In other words, the vested interest is missing.

As with any system, volunteerism requires frequent analysis and development. Most association executives indicate they have a board liaison to all committees. But training and assessment are areas of improvement, the report found.

Less than half the respondents said they have an orientation process for volunteers. And even fewer have an evaluation process for volunteers.

“Association staff leaders appear to know—and members agree—that volunteer recruitment, orientation, training and assessment are areas where they can improve their volunteer management systems,” the report says. “There are opportunities for associations to be deliberate in how they approach each of these areas, whether through the use of new methods of recruiting to reach an untapped audience, the creation task-oriented volunteer opportunities, the development of orientations for new volunteers or the use of goal-centered conversations to provide feedback to volunteers.

“While not every member wants to be a volunteer, plenty of them do—including those who have not yet had the opportunity. In ensuring their volunteer management systems are deliberate at every step, from outreach and recruitment to volunteer assessment, association leaders can ensure that their systems do provide for the mutual benefit of volunteers and associations.”

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Event Garde is committed to professional development, for ourselves and for our industry. As such, we’re avid readers of industry news. We’d like to share these must-reads
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