The heart of any organization is its volunteers. The main focus of a Volunteer Coordinator is to provide direction for, and to build relationships with, the volunteers. Without guidance and nurturing, the volunteers may become disenchanted, but what happens when the Coordinator loses focus? How can they stay motivated and lead others into a successful year?
Elizabeth Andrew noted the value of Volunteering: “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” Volunteerism is a core value—intrinsic almost—basically having a heart to serve. The desire and willingness to help comes from within. Luckily, this is true of the Volunteer Coordinator as well as the volunteers themselves. If you can reach the servant heart, the soul of the volunteer, you are set! Find what the volunteers love, skills they possess, and how they want to help. If you find what makes the volunteer tick—then you can utilize it. Get personal.
Volunteerism is a people-driven activity. Erma Bombeck once said, “Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain love for one another.” The truth is that our Volunteer Coordinators are people-managers and relationship-builders. Coordinators initiate the plans and ask volunteers to carry-out the tasks, but are always standing right alongside. Without a trusting working relationship, one volunteer cannot depend on the other. Lose trust, you risk losing a volunteer. This is true of most any leadership-volunteer relationship. The fastest way to lose a volunteer is to put on airs instead of jumping right-in and helping too! Earn the trust.
“Volunteer are not paid—not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.” Free service of their own free will. Volunteers have a choice where to spend their time. We must take the time to appreciate our volunteers. A simple “thank you” might be enough, but why not go out of your way to show appreciation? After all, the volunteers went out of their way to help. Be grateful. Show gratitude. Express their value. Express their importance to you and the organization.
It is the external forces that sometimes cloud our focus when it comes to managing volunteers. We must look past the barriers and look towards the goal. We know the show must go on. We know we need help. We know we need to recruit volunteers and stand beside them to show them the way. As M.R. Kologie stated, “Be strong, you never know who you are inspiring.” Your attitude and your experience can directly and indirectly influence others into helping. With your actions, you may persuade someone to follow in your footsteps. You make the difference! This is how you will have a successful year.