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Volunteers:
Herding Cats into a
Pack of Lions

    Stacy Dyer @stacydyer
Your Partner in Dialogue


          Stacy Dyer
           Principal, Tomato’s Garden Consulting

           Speaker Programmer, 501 Tech Club Austin –
           local affinity group of NTEN

           15+ years working for/with nonprofits
                Asolo Theatre of Florida, Zachary Scott Theater,
           Ballet Austin

           Superhero power: Gizmo Empath
Goals for today:


 Review potential of volunteers

 Understand why volunteer programs fail

 Take away actionable strategies to
 improve volunteer engagement
Do you feel like this?




Cowboys herding cats
Volunteering in America
       2009 Quick Stats
              63.4 million volunteers, 1.6 million increase over 2008
                    Largest single year increase since 2003

              Contributed +8.1 billion hrs, = ~$169 billion in services

              Volunteer rate up to 26.8% (26.4% in 2008)

                                                                                           “To volunteer successfully
                                                                                                there must be an
                                                                                             infrastructure that can
                                                                                           recruit, place, and manage
                                                                                            prospective volunteers.”


Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Research and Policy
Development. Volunteering in America 2010: National, State, and City Information, Washington, DC.
2010, June.
Obama Administration and
   Nonprofit Pains
      $201 million to Corporation for National and Community Service; $5.7
      billion bill to expand national service programs

      Adding 4 new national service corps programs; and triple current
      number of annual AmeriCorps volunteers by 2017

      40% of charities have too few staff members; 34% rely on volunteers
      to fill gap1

      34% of nonprofits say they do not have the infrastructure in place to
      deploy volunteers2; 57% do not have the infrastructure to deploy an
      influx of volunteers2

1 The Johns Hopkins Listening Post Project, Recession Pressures on Nonprofit Jobs, 2010
2 2009 Executive Summary: Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT survey, 2009
Volunteer Persona and Roles
      Who is volunteering?

      Retiring Boomers
      Recent rise in volunteer rates
      fueled by:
             Women, ages 45-54
             Have children
             Employed full-time




*Source: Corporation for National and Community Service,
      Office of Research and Policy Development.
      Volunteering in America 2010; National, State, and City Information,
      Washington, DC. 2010, June.
Diverse Ecosystem
Why volunteer programs fail
 Don’t understand the vital role they fill
 Under utilized – not engaged in meaningful way
 No path for sustainable growth
 Org treats all volunteers the same – ME ME ME ME
Get a Volunteer Coordinator
 Human Resources = potential organizational wealth (both
 money and skills!)

 Capacity to capitalize on volunteer resources
   Don't rely on existing staff who have other mission-critical duties

 Should be dedicated staff member
   Not just another volunteer
   Acts as liaison
   Must have perspective
   to balance needs
Coordinator as Tamer
 Identify gaps in staff

 Create sustainable
 volunteer program
   Capitalize on current
   resources
   Develop the next line
   coming up


 Foster long-term
 relationships             Photo by: Andrew Kaufman
Volunteer Job Descriptions

               Create detailed volunteer job
               descriptions, including roles and
               responsibilities

               Set quantifiable goals volunteers can
               work towards

               Engage in a regular performance
               review feedback process

               Revise and update descriptions and
               goals as needed
Align Roles to Passions
  Don’t have expectations based on the volunteer’s
  external experience or skills




 Let them pursue their interests!
Rotate Roles
 Allow volunteers to try out various roles
   They may discover a passion they never knew they had!


 Reduce volunteer fatigue

 Encourage frequent
 volunteer feedback
   Be flexible and don’t force it
Provide Continuing Education
 Encourage growth and development
 As volunteers acquire new skills, not only will your organization
 benefit from their increased capacity, but the individual that
 feels engaged will be easier to retain.




                                                    Yuri Kuklachev of
                                                    Moscow Cat
                                                    Theatre
Use Volunteer Mentors

                         Create a system that gives
                         volunteers the opportunity to
                         lead other volunteers




 Share experience and knowledge
  Improve skill retention
  Rely less on paid staff to train new recruits
  Continue personal and professional development journey
Benefits of Investing in Volunteers
 Engage volunteers in a
 professional
 development system

   Skilled volunteer
   marketplace from which to
   draw resources

   Stakeholders for life with
   greater philanthropic
   potential
Time is More Valuable
Than Money
                The #1 reason people
                don’t buy season tickets isn't
                their cost – it’s because they
                don't have time to attend^

                Easier to just write a check and
                be done

                Volunteers invest their time –
                value it accordingly!

            ^ Source: Performing Arts Research Coalition,
                 Performing Arts Research Coalition Sarasota Community Report, pg 47
Nurture Volunteers
 Your volunteers are your greatest investors
 Volunteers give you their TIME.
   It is, in many ways, more valuable than money.
 A volunteer who is deeply engaged is your most likely
 source of monetary investment.
Escalate Engagement
Track directly in donor database, CRM or volunteer
management system
Set thresholds for escalation
  Sometimes all you have to do is ask!
  Use flags and reminders
Publically track goal attainment as a motivational tool
Powerful Pack of Lions
                                     Hangzhou Sapphire Circus




A successful volunteer engagement program means volunteers
       will be lining up to be a part of your organization!
Take-aways to remember:
Have a Volunteer Coordinator
Specific volunteer job descriptions
Align roles to passions
  Rotate roles to reduce volunteer fatigue
  and maximize opportunistic exploration
Allow for growth journey
Respect their investment by investing
in them
Nurture relationships
  Be proactive - volunteers can become
  your greatest investors!
Thank You!

          Stacy Dyer
Follow me on Twitter: @stacydyer

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Volunteers: Herding Cats into a Pack of Lions

  • 1. Volunteers: Herding Cats into a Pack of Lions Stacy Dyer @stacydyer
  • 2. Your Partner in Dialogue Stacy Dyer Principal, Tomato’s Garden Consulting Speaker Programmer, 501 Tech Club Austin – local affinity group of NTEN 15+ years working for/with nonprofits Asolo Theatre of Florida, Zachary Scott Theater, Ballet Austin Superhero power: Gizmo Empath
  • 3. Goals for today: Review potential of volunteers Understand why volunteer programs fail Take away actionable strategies to improve volunteer engagement
  • 4. Do you feel like this? Cowboys herding cats
  • 5. Volunteering in America 2009 Quick Stats 63.4 million volunteers, 1.6 million increase over 2008 Largest single year increase since 2003 Contributed +8.1 billion hrs, = ~$169 billion in services Volunteer rate up to 26.8% (26.4% in 2008) “To volunteer successfully there must be an infrastructure that can recruit, place, and manage prospective volunteers.” Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Research and Policy Development. Volunteering in America 2010: National, State, and City Information, Washington, DC. 2010, June.
  • 6. Obama Administration and Nonprofit Pains $201 million to Corporation for National and Community Service; $5.7 billion bill to expand national service programs Adding 4 new national service corps programs; and triple current number of annual AmeriCorps volunteers by 2017 40% of charities have too few staff members; 34% rely on volunteers to fill gap1 34% of nonprofits say they do not have the infrastructure in place to deploy volunteers2; 57% do not have the infrastructure to deploy an influx of volunteers2 1 The Johns Hopkins Listening Post Project, Recession Pressures on Nonprofit Jobs, 2010 2 2009 Executive Summary: Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT survey, 2009
  • 7. Volunteer Persona and Roles Who is volunteering? Retiring Boomers Recent rise in volunteer rates fueled by: Women, ages 45-54 Have children Employed full-time *Source: Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Research and Policy Development. Volunteering in America 2010; National, State, and City Information, Washington, DC. 2010, June.
  • 9. Why volunteer programs fail Don’t understand the vital role they fill Under utilized – not engaged in meaningful way No path for sustainable growth Org treats all volunteers the same – ME ME ME ME
  • 10. Get a Volunteer Coordinator Human Resources = potential organizational wealth (both money and skills!) Capacity to capitalize on volunteer resources Don't rely on existing staff who have other mission-critical duties Should be dedicated staff member Not just another volunteer Acts as liaison Must have perspective to balance needs
  • 11. Coordinator as Tamer Identify gaps in staff Create sustainable volunteer program Capitalize on current resources Develop the next line coming up Foster long-term relationships Photo by: Andrew Kaufman
  • 12. Volunteer Job Descriptions Create detailed volunteer job descriptions, including roles and responsibilities Set quantifiable goals volunteers can work towards Engage in a regular performance review feedback process Revise and update descriptions and goals as needed
  • 13. Align Roles to Passions Don’t have expectations based on the volunteer’s external experience or skills Let them pursue their interests!
  • 14. Rotate Roles Allow volunteers to try out various roles They may discover a passion they never knew they had! Reduce volunteer fatigue Encourage frequent volunteer feedback Be flexible and don’t force it
  • 15. Provide Continuing Education Encourage growth and development As volunteers acquire new skills, not only will your organization benefit from their increased capacity, but the individual that feels engaged will be easier to retain. Yuri Kuklachev of Moscow Cat Theatre
  • 16. Use Volunteer Mentors Create a system that gives volunteers the opportunity to lead other volunteers Share experience and knowledge Improve skill retention Rely less on paid staff to train new recruits Continue personal and professional development journey
  • 17. Benefits of Investing in Volunteers Engage volunteers in a professional development system Skilled volunteer marketplace from which to draw resources Stakeholders for life with greater philanthropic potential
  • 18. Time is More Valuable Than Money The #1 reason people don’t buy season tickets isn't their cost – it’s because they don't have time to attend^ Easier to just write a check and be done Volunteers invest their time – value it accordingly! ^ Source: Performing Arts Research Coalition, Performing Arts Research Coalition Sarasota Community Report, pg 47
  • 19. Nurture Volunteers Your volunteers are your greatest investors Volunteers give you their TIME. It is, in many ways, more valuable than money. A volunteer who is deeply engaged is your most likely source of monetary investment.
  • 20. Escalate Engagement Track directly in donor database, CRM or volunteer management system Set thresholds for escalation Sometimes all you have to do is ask! Use flags and reminders Publically track goal attainment as a motivational tool
  • 21. Powerful Pack of Lions Hangzhou Sapphire Circus A successful volunteer engagement program means volunteers will be lining up to be a part of your organization!
  • 22. Take-aways to remember: Have a Volunteer Coordinator Specific volunteer job descriptions Align roles to passions Rotate roles to reduce volunteer fatigue and maximize opportunistic exploration Allow for growth journey Respect their investment by investing in them Nurture relationships Be proactive - volunteers can become your greatest investors!
  • 23. Thank You! Stacy Dyer Follow me on Twitter: @stacydyer