What do volunteers want to do? How does it align with our mission?

Volunteer recruitment seems to be a universal problem. We know it is a challenge to fill all of our committees but do we really understand why we are struggling? With the traditional structure, the Board decides what they’d like to accomplish and then Staff comes up with a list of committees, workgroups, or “jobs” that we would like to recruit volunteers to help reach those goals. But within that process, where is the step where we take some time to ask ourselves what it is that our members interested in doing?  At what point do we look at the talent pool we have within our membership and figure out how to best utilize it?

Let’s tackle this problem by thinking a little differently about what we are asking volunteers to do and target volunteer opportunities that hit the middle of this diagram:

What Members Want to Do

We probably can get a feel for jobs that fall into this circle just by how easy or difficult it is to recruit volunteers and motivate them to complete the tasks. But if we’re looking to engage more volunteers or find new volunteer opportunities, it might be useful to survey the membership about their interests to see where that overlaps with what the Association would like to accomplish.

Staff Capacity / Association Resources

No matter what the members would like to do, we are always operating under some restraints. We do not have unlimited money so some things they might want to do may be too expensive. There is only so much staff time that can be devoted to volunteer management, so that has to be taken into account as well.

Strategic Plan / Association Mission

It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out what is and is not advancing our mission, and those items that do will go in the Strategic Plan circle. If there is something that falls into a gray area, that’s probably highlighting a good strategy discussion. What is probably going to be harder is figuring out where it overlaps since we have limited information on what our members want to do.

You can use this diagram in a couple different ways. You can take a look at what your members want to do and see where that advances the strategic plan, or you look at your strategic plan and consider where you have member skills and interests that can contribute to it. Either way, this should help you determine the connection between what your members actually want to do with what initiatives you need your volunteers to be assisting with.