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.