Meaningful Volunteer Engagement

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  • How many people in the room are here primarily because you are staff for your institution? How many are here in the capacity of being a volunteer on an alumni board? By a show of fingers (5=nearly perfect and 1=you cringe at the thought of a board meeting) how would you rate the current health of your alumni board?


  • 1. Meaningful Volunteer Engagement June 17, 2008 Paul Hanscom, CAE [email_address]
  • 2. Overview
    • Leverage value from the Board structure
    • Be an organization where people want to volunteer
    • Support the volunteers who support you
  • 3. Function of the Board
    • Specify ends to be achieved
    • Communicate & maintain the board-executive relationship
    • Develop ‘board processes’
    • Liaison to the community
  • 4. Attributes of Effective Boards
    • Support for the organization’s mission
    • Understand role of board and staff
    • Stay strategic and out of the day-to-day
    • Respect each other and hold each other accountable
  • 5. Leveraging Value from the Board Structure
    • Diversify representation
    • Expand your expertise
    • Think with an “and” mentality
  • 6. Be an Organization where People want to Volunteer
    • Define and brand the volunteer experience
    • Recruit early and often
    • Identify your volunteers’ motivations
    • Demonstrate value
  • 7. Realities of the Business Environment
    • Time – Busy people, multiple priorities
    • Attention economy – rapid expansion of information, scarcity of attention
    • Technology – Smart phones, wikis, Facebook, IM, LinkedIn…What’s next?
  • 8. Realities of Volunteer Commitment
    • Most volunteer programs have:
    • Small cadre of long-term committed volunteers (10-20%)
    • Revolving quick turnover pool (20-40%)
    • Intermediate, still making up their mind, group – sometimes involved, sometimes not
    * McCurley, Steve. Keeping Volunteers Engaged: The Keys to Retention. The Corporation for … National and Community Service. April 19, 2007.
  • 9.
    • The federal Corporation for National and Community Service used
    • Census Bureau data to determine the percentage of people age 18
    • or over who had volunteered their time in the previous year.
    • The metropolitan areas with the highest percentage of volunteers:
    • Minneapolis / St. Paul, Minnesota – over 40%
    • Salt Lake City, Utah
    • Austin, Texas
    • Omaha, Nebraska
    • Seattle, Washington
    • Metropolitan areas with the lowest volunteer rate:
    • Riverside, California
    • Virginia Beach, Virginia
    • New York City
    • Miami, Florida
    • Las Vegas, Nevada – 14.4%
    *Los Angeles Times’ Associated Press article published July 9, 2007
  • 10. Given these realities, staff leaders need to…
    • Make purpose paramount
    • Plan effectively and efficiently
    • Empower volunteers
  • 11. What is the purpose of your board? Make Purpose Paramount
  • 12. Plan Effectively and Efficiently
    • Build an atmosphere that encourages new ideas
    • Make volunteers feel like part of a team.
    • Use people's talents, not just their time.
    • Check in with volunteers – make personal contact
    • Share your successes
    • When you have a new volunteer, have an experienced volunteer work with him/her
      • * Craig Bystrynski, PTO Today. 25 Ways to Catch and Keep Volunteers.
  • 13. Empower volunteers
    • Orientation & Training
    • Share responsibility
    • Put your money where your mouth is
    • Develop future leaders through mentorship
  • 14. Effectiveness of Volunteer Mentors – 4H, Florida, 1999
    • “ Drop-out rates for the Master Gardener basic training programs for three years prior to the mentor program were 26%, 17%, and 27% in 1995, 1996, and 1997.”
    • The trainee drop-out rate for 1998 was 2%, following the creation of a mentor program.
    * McCurley, Steve. Keeping Volunteers Engaged: The Keys to Retention. The Corporation for … National and Community Service. April 19, 2007.
  • 15. Support the Volunteers who Support You
    • Expectations & Feedback
    • Keep Volunteers Informed
    • Recognize and Reward
  • 16. McCurley's Rule
    • “ Nobody volunteers to fail.”
    • - Steve McCurley, Volunteer Management
  • 17. Questions
  • 18. Additional Resources
    • Association for Volunteer Administrators
    • www. avaintl .org
    • BoardSource (assorted volunteer and board management resources)
    • Free Management Library
    • www. managementhelp .org
    • Corporation for National and Community Service
    • (assorted volunteer and board management resources) www. volunteerweek .org
    • Resource Center (tools & training for volunteer programs) www. nationalserviceresources .org
    • Service Leader (electronic volunteering guidebook)