On Monday, I shared with you that in the corner of my basement, there is a small mountain of boxes from my last place of residence. I’ve decided after seven years, none of it can be very important. So, I’m opening the boxes and starting to trash the contents. In the very first box I found a treasure trove of training materials from when I worked for the Boy Scouts (BSA) as a District Executive in the 1990s. I decided that the readers of this blog might find some of it helpful and useful. On Monday, I shared with you BSA’s tips for running an annual campaign. Today, I will offer you the Scouts’ perspective on volunteer management.
The document I pulled out of the box is super simple. It is a brochure titled “Six Major Tasks for Volunteer Success: To Strengthen District Committees and Commissioner Staffs“.
- Define Responsibilities. Volunteers must know what is expected for them to be successful. Carefully define, in writing, the responsibilities for each position.
- Select & Recruit. Fit the right person to the job. Consider each prospect’s skills, interests, and other relevant factors. Consider the variety of motivating factors for people getting involved. (And then BSA instructs its employees to use recruitment best practices and references other manuals)
- Orient & Train. Provide each person with prompt orientation on the individual assignment and with adequate training to be successful. (Again, BSA references another three manuals for training curriculum)
- Coach Volunteers. Provide ongoing coaching as needed. Build a volunteer’s confidence and self-esteem. Help conserve a volunteer’s time. Coaching should be provided by the appropriate chairperson or professional.
- Recognize Achievement. Prompt volunteer recognition has an important impact on the tenure and quality of service in the district. Recognition must be sincere, timely, and earned. Use the great variety of formal BSA recognition items, but also be creative with frequent locally devised thank-yous. Even more effective may be the personal “pat on the back” for a job well done. Recognize volunteers on a face-to-face basis, from a person of status, and preferably in front of the volunteer’s peers.
- Evaluate Performance. Help district volunteers regularly evaluate how they’re doing. (Would you be surprised to learn that they reference yet still more manuals)
For those of you worrying that I’m violating copyright law, rest assured there is nothing on this brochure that indicates this is copyrighted. Additionally, these six points are all best practices dating back to Biblical times (maybe I’m exaggerating . . . or am I?). Finally, I am infamous for ending my blog posts by saying something like “please share your thoughts in the comment box below because we can all learn from each other“. I guess I’m just imposing my teachable point of view on the Scouts.
C’est la vie!
- It is super impressive that the BSA seems to have a manual for everything, which gives new meaning to the expression “They wrote the book on that.”
- BSA is dependent on hundreds of thousands of volunteers to implement their programming. It makes sense that they’ve invested countless time, energy and money in developing resources. I wonder if there are collaboration and strategic alliance opportunities for your organization around volunteer recruitment and management. What’s stopping you from reaching out to your local council and starting a dialog?
- Boiling it down into six simple tips is misleading and confusing because the devil is always in the details. It is easy to say “Coach volunteers,” but the trick is doing it. There is nothing simple about these six steps, and the BSA has been honing their expertise in the area of volunteer recruitment and management for more than a century.
Is your agency trying to build a volunteer recruitment and management program? If so, how is it going? How many manuals have you developed and on what subjects? Have you hired a volunteer coordinator yet? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below.
Here’s to your health!
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC