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The RGI Blog

3 Clues Your Association Has Underappreciated Volunteers

Volunteers are the backbone of associations. Passionate members spend countless hours in tasks from the strategic to the tedious. Many volunteers follow a well-trod path of committee service or elected leadership, which often includes an orientation process based on pages in the policy manual. Their terms of service are marked by a “time on” column in the database with a certificate presented at conference to mark the end of their commitment.

But today’s volunteers are breaking that mold by looking for short-term commitments that fit their busy schedules. The term “microvolunteering” has emerged and associations are working to adjust their volunteer opportunities to the “I’ve only got a few minutes” challenge.

As your association expands the definition of volunteering, don’t fall into the trap of letting those untraditional volunteers turn into underappreciated volunteers. Here are three questions that can shine a spotlight on an underappreciated volunteer:

1. Do you have a volunteer that has been working on a task for so long that no one remembers when they started?

For example, the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior has a team of four volunteers that review the e-newsletter every other week to ensure the content is appropriate for the profession. One volunteer has been doing this task for three years. Her contribution is invaluable, but would be easy to overlook.

2. Do you have a member that you can call on for any task?

Stop right now and send a thank you card to that person who never says no. Make sure they realize just how valuable their unfailing dedication is to you and your association.

3. Do you have a volunteer that consistently takes on a task that would fall to staff?

Staff time is precious and the volunteers that take on tasks such as welcoming new members with a notecard or making phone calls during renewals, deserve special recognition.

Thanks and appreciation can happen outside of national volunteer week and your association’s annual conference. If you have a segment of volunteers that are not receiving the recognition they deserve then today is a great day to change that experience.