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Volunteers, Good as Gold

Remember, everyone can make a valid contribution to your organization. You just need to figure out how they can help you succeed.

·         Your volunteer is working for free.  Make the tasks fun.
·         A simple note from the President or committee chairman will go a long way.   When a volunteer takes on a special project or fund raiser, a personal note is payment for their duties.  They will probably work really hard for you the next time!
·         When you have meetings be conscious of your volunteers' time.  Even though they have committed the time to you, be sure to stay on task because your volunteer has other personal obligations.  
·         Begin and end your meetings on time (per your posted schedule).
·         Make volunteer job descriptions fun.  The volunteer probably has many choices of where to spend their time. If it doesn’t include some fun, it may be difficult to recruit for that position.
·         Give new volunteers small tasks to lessen the risk of instant “burn out”.   Once they get to know you, they will probably volunteer for more.
·         Be flexible with your volunteers -  you want them to help you again.
·         Make sure your “old time” volunteers encourage a positive environment.  Negative volunteers scare away and dampen the enthusiasm of happy new volunteers. 
·         Mention your volunteers in your newsletter or in front of the membership at the next meeting.  Do not forget the person who does your newsletter, as that can be a hard, often thankless, job.
·         Be open with volunteers about problems and challenges facing the organization.  Listen to what your volunteers have to say!
·         Take a survey of your volunteers; you could learn a lot.  Ask them, “How are we doing?”  Anonymous suggestions often bring some good ideas or problems to the surface.
·         Have a mentor for each new volunteer.  They are joining to be part of the group, so make sure they feel useful and “part of the club”.
·         Communicate with your volunteers often. Email is economical.

If you are fortunate enough to own a piece of real gold jewelry, you probably treasure it and safeguard it. You know it is valuable! Your volunteers are, too. Treat them like gold, and you and you and your organization will be amply rewarded with their continued loyalty, time, energy, and dedication. 

Diane Lesher