Monday, September 3, 2012

Member Engagement Solution #4: Manage Volunteer Transitions

image source
I've mentioned previously that I'm leading another innovation effort for WSAE, something we're calling an Innovation Circle. Ours is focused on member engagement, and you can get an overview of what it is and what we're trying to achieve with it here.

I've previously posted on some of the member engagement issues people in the Circle are wrestling with. Now, I'm sharing a some of the solutions the group is coming forward with--strategies that have been demonstrated to work in at least one association environment. This is the fourth post in that series. Previous posts include:

#1: Don't Forget the Fun
#2: Recruit with a One-to-One Philosophy
#3: Recognize Volunteer Contributions

As always, I encourage you to add your thoughts and comments as we go along.

+ + +

Member Engagement Solution #4: Manage Volunteer Transitions

Don't lose the talent and enthusiasm of a long-serving volunteer just because their term of service comes to an end. Work to find new ways to engage them in the organization. Their understanding of the association's history and strategy is invaluable. They can often achieve far more than any newly-recruited volunteer because of it.

I'll admit that this is one I've always struggled with. With all the focus that goes into identifying and developing new leaders in the organization, keeping those who have cycled through a formal volunteer engagement often falls far down the priority list. There are times when the individual speaks up, when they make it clear that they want to stay engaged, and work proactively to find another assignment within the organization. But more often than not, they simply drift back into the membership pool, and it's not always clear if that was the way they wanted it, or if they were expecting some personalized outreach for re-engagement.

At a minimum, then, I think it behooves you to ask each retiring volunteer what their preference is. Would they like to stay engaged? To find a new assignment to help the association with? Or would they prefer to step down their engagement level? Maybe there are other volunteer commitments they have for other organizations, or maybe their professional responsibilities have increased, or maybe there are things going on in their personal lives that make engagement at their previous level difficult.

Either way, it's been my experience that most volunteers appreciate this direct approach, especially when it comes with no strings attached. Just as there should be no barrier for a retiring volunteer to get engaged with a new project or task, there should also be no retribution or ill feelings for a volunteer who decides, for whatever reason, that they have given enough to the organization and would like to go back to being just a member.

No comments:

Post a Comment