leading volunteers

For the last several years, my DH has been volunteering for a well-respected, local charity event.   It’s three days of his life that he gives up; three days not at the cottage, not at home, on his feet, managing water, power, trash, and people.  

He works really, really hard;  he comes home tired, dirty, and missing toenails from all the walking.   But it raises money for a good charity so he doesn’t mind.  
But that has changed.  

It’s been an interesting evolution for him for him recently.  While the charity has a representative onsite, the rest of the “leadership” are volunteers too.   And they aren’t very good at leadership.  After a particularly bad run, I believe that he will take a year off from this work.   He has given notice and feedback to the teams.  He can donate his time ANYWHERE and a place with poor leadership and ineffective management is not a place to give time.  His absence will be a huge loss for the event.  
As an employer who has volunteers, there are strong similarities in effective management and leadership.     
– connect people and jobs where they will excel.  Just like hiring.  Make sure that the person leading can lead; make certain the assignments correlate to gifts and talents. 
– ask for feedback.  Ask your volunteers how things are going, what’s going well, and what needs improvement.  Check in often, before it’s too late.  
– provide feedback.  What’s going well.  Where to focus.  Opportunities for improvement.  
– know that volunteers CAN go anywhere.  Don’t take them for granted.  
– say thank you.  Not just a blanket, generic good job kind of thank you.  But a genuine, heartfelt, this-is-what-you-did-well kind of thank you.  Notice them.  It’s important.  
We will still support the charity because we think it’s important.  We will probably write a check instead of donating time.  It’s been a good learning experience for us.  Hopefully the feedback will help the event make effective changes too.   

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