In a unique workshop attended by social activity leaders from various units at Strauss and their social partners, we discussed volunteer management. By learning from success stories and dilemmas, we explored how to create a volunteer organization over time, while maintaining the same enthusiasm and commitment levels that characterize the beginning of this journey.
What typifies the business volunteer?
In order to connect business volunteers to a prolonged volunteer activity, one must understand the motivations and constraints they deal with. The motivations of business volunteers are similar to those of private volunteers– they all want to “give to other people ‘ and feel significant and valuable in their social activity.
When it comes to business volunteers, time is of the essence. The business volunteer is characterized by a heavy work load, numerous responsibilities, stress and a difficulty to adhere to ongoing volunteering commitment. Therefore, in order to realize the potential of volunteers, we must structure volunteering options and back them up with a supporting, purpose-built volunteer management system.
How do we create a sequence? Building a volunteer program
The profile and motivations of business volunteers require the construction of a unique volunteer program characterized by highly-diverse frequent activities – from regular, continuous volunteer work to project / department-related or one-time volunteer work that enables rotation, such as highly-frequent group work, carried out by volunteers who take turns.
Volunteer work offered to a large number of people, requires diversity in the nature of assignments and in the skills needed, to fit numerous people in various roles, skills and ages. Because each person is unique, the volunteer program should accommodate a human “mosaic”. For example, volunteers who want to engage in a sporting activity as opposed to volunteers who want to engage in mentoring.
The active recruitment program
Recruitment of business volunteers involves constant activism. The recruitment process will start as a high-profile business practice at a company event, or in a cross-organizational communication procedure inviting all employees to meet with community partner. The key messages in this first get-together should manifest organizational commitment to the
process, understanding of the implications and need for volunteering, and the experiential familiarity with the community sector in need of volunteers.
The intensive recruitment of a large volunteer group at the beginning of the social activity, is coupled with a continuous erosion process with fewer engaged people , due to time constraints, unmet expectations , and flawed management. Extending the volunteers circle and retaining them over time require a joint effort by both the business organization and the community organization. Therefore, the creators of the volunteer program should formulate an ongoing recruitment practice that changes its nature – from a high-profile media event to low-key continuous recruitment characterized by corridor chats, referrals, communicating the activity to all employees, encouraging managers to take part, exposure through one-time community events, and more.
Appreciation, recognition and communication – From personal to organizational motivation?
A key component in business volunteering is the creation of organizational motivation. The business organization and its community partner should consider together how to create motivation and encourage volunteer work through appreciation, recognition and communication at both organizations.
This can be done in numerous creative ways: giving parking priority to volunteer- employees, unique mugs for volunteers, recognition events attended by the CEO, regular and notable intra-organizational communication, written reference by the community to activities, and more. All of these will be used both as a means of exposure for volunteer activity and appreciation, and as a tool for harnessing additional volunteers.
Corporate recognition and appreciation on the part of direct managers and members in the business organization is significant when it comes to business volunteers, and, therefore, harnessing business managers and understanding their role in encouraging volunteer work is important. Direct managers can do so by raising the issue of volunteerism in personal or corridor chats with volunteers in their units, discussing the issue in unit meetings, appraisal discussions and more.
In conclusion, business volunteer management is a complex assignment which requires perseverance and patience, but at the same time is very rewarding. It’s about leading an organizational process that enables employees with diverse qualities volunteer and undergo an empowering and innovative experience, unrelated to the business organization but one which makes it significant and value-driven.
Volunteer management assignment will only succeed when carried out together with the community partner, understanding the importance, responsibility, difficulty and initiative required in order to retain and nurture the social activity.