What happens if a key volunteer, especially one with long-tenure, wins the lottery tomorrow? What is at risk for your association when a person with an integral role leaves or is out on extended leave? These threats and realities should be motivators for associations to think ahead and create a succession plan. Below are three things to consider before deciding you are too busy for succession planning for volunteers.
1. Volunteers Keep Key Processes in Their Heads
There is general knowledge of each volunteer position in the chapter. However, the exact processes of the role are often never recorded. A volunteer will find how to best fulfill the goals of the role as they go and those best practices remain in their heads. Without a succession plan, nobody outside of that person knows how to best serve in that role. There have been circumstances where key volunteers, such as the treasurer or conference chair have served over 20 years. When volunteers like that decide to turn their roles over to someone else, will your chapter be ready?
2. Roles Change Over Time
Like the examples mentioned above, some volunteers stay and serve with a chapter for numerous years. Over those years, their role is bound to change from year to year. If those volunteers don’t record those changes somehow, then the chapter will be starting from square one to relearn processes once he or she leaves.
3. Planning UpFront Saves Time
We can all agree time is a valuable resource. By not taking some time ahead of time and working with current volunteers now, you will spend much more time after they leave figuring out how to best fulfill the volunteer position. Instead of getting comfortable with a core group of volunteers, continually recruit new members to become leaders so they are ready to step in when needed.
The key point is to simply start. You can address the big glaring topics upfront and fill in the details as you go. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be done. What roles have the most responsibility, and in turn offer the most risk to losing them? Planning is key to ensure your chapter continues to function at a high level even while going through volunteer changes.