I recently returned from New Orleans where I facilitated a retreat of nonprofit leaders from animal welfare organizations across the country. Among the main topics of conversation was the vital importance of engaging community members as ambassadors and advocates on behalf their shared mission. Engaging volunteers, members, clients, and community members as effective ambassadors is a topic that comes up in our work over and over again with all types of organizations.
So much has been written and discussed in nonprofit circles about what motivates today’s volunteers. The chance to use or gain skills, to make a tangible difference in a community, to support a passionate cause, networking or social benefits, and so much more. Rarely, however, do we step back and reflect on how and why we volunteer (or even if we, as nonprofit professionals and leaders, volunteer ourselves). I often reflect on my own motivations to volunteer – and that reflection has value to our own career and our own practice.
This post is also available on the VounteerMatch.org Engaging Volunteers blog.Scan the shelves of the business section of a book store or scroll through the popular TED talks these days, and you’ll be sure to find a lot of information about innovation and flexibility, nimbleness, and entrepreneurship. So much so that your eyes may glaze over and you may get a bit overwhelmed by the jargon.Nonetheless, there’s a reason that so many are talking, writing, and thinking about nimbleness and entrepreneurship and it is not limited to business. These concepts are equally important to volunteer engagement. In fact, there is a growing pool of data that demonstrates how strategic volunteer engagement is related to organizational innovation and adaptability. Paying attention to these topics is worth the time – and investing effort in implementing some of these strategies has a significant return on investment.
Storyteller… minstrel… raconteur… a teller of tales. Over the past three months, I have shared stories of volunteer engagement in trainings, webinars, and consultations across multiple states and organizations. While I feel a bit like the itinerant troubadours of medieval times, sharing real-life stories of volunteer engagement success with professionals and volunteer leaders brings to life the tools and strategies and helps workshop participants and clients aspire to achieve similar success.
As part of JFFixler Group’s ongoing series of case studies, we featured a powerful story of skilled volunteer engagement that really embodies the concept of volunteer engagement as a key business strategy. Since the National Council on Aging has named today (the first day of fall) as National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, we couldn’t help but remember this impactful program and repost it so others can learn from these best practices.
Whether you represent a food pantry, youth program, senior center, theater, or other organization or agency, families are likely a key constituent of yours. They may be welcomed as members, program attendees, visitors, or clients. They may be cultivated as donors or participants. Rarely, however, do families easily and readily find ways to volunteer at these organizations – to volunteer together.
Summer may be waning, but at JFFixler Group, we are keeping the summer feel alive as long as possible by continuing to enjoy inspiration from our summer reading list. As is our tradition, we wanted to share some of the books we have been enjoying in recent months. Each of these three titles has added to our perspectives on volunteer and member engagement. We think they will enhance yours as well, providing fodder for productive conversations with your staff and volunteer colleagues.
"Loved this webinar! My organizartion is currently defining volunteer management and volunteer engagement so this was extremely helpful. I gained some insight that I can take back to my staff as I continue to develop their volunteer engagement skills. Thank you!!! —Webinar Participant