Losing volunteers sucks. Life changes, opportunities change or worst case your volunteer burns out. Losing someone, when you feel like your team is already light, can feel crippling. So what can you do to create the best possible volunteer experience?
Those times that a volunteer team member has come to me to say they need to step away is devastating. I immediately second guess their reasoning. Did I push to hard? Did I not make sure they were in their sweet spot? How did I fail them?
What could I have done to better see through the eyes of my volunteer team?
1. Take a week and serve along side them….but don’t lead.
Take everything else off your plate so you can serve your team, hand and foot. Get them water. Ask them what you can do to help. Take you’re lead from them.
Then, when it’s appropriate, ask them how they think we could do things better?
2. Sign up to volunteer for an organization in an entry level role.
This one is incredibly valuable. When YOU are the one volunteering for an unorganized team it makes you want to immediately pick up your cell phone and apologize to any volunteer you’ve ever underserved. It’s incredibly frustration to feel like your time is going to waste because no one was prepared for you.
Find an organization you don’t already know and start serving.
3. Ask them to help you identify the team’s biggest obstacles.
Pull your team together, grab a white board and do a little brainstorming. Make sure you’re all on the same page as to what your team goal is and then ask them to help you identify the team’s biggest obstacles. What right about what you’re doing? What wrong, missing or confusing? Focus on identifying the problems.
If your team is able, have them begin to brainstorm solutions to those problems. Granted they may not be aware of all the factors that will influence the best solution they may be able to get creative. Have them provide 3-4 possible solutions to the highlighted problems. That way your team leader can take those solutions into consideration as the review all the facts.
Being a volunteer is hard work. Make sure you minimize the frustration and maximum impact.
Question of the day: What has your volunteer experience been like?