Guest Post: C. David Gammel, FASAE, CAE and Kristi Donovan, M.S., CAE
Many associations are facing an ongoing challenge: a shrinking volunteer pool. However, in most cases, the volunteer pool isn’t actually shrinking — it’s that your organization isn’t aligned with your volunteers’ needs. Reorient your way of thinking to view volunteer roles from a volunteer’s perspective. If your association is struggling to fill volunteer positions, it’s time to restructure and adapt — because it’s not your volunteers, it’s your organization.
The world is changing, and so are your members. It’s time to align with that shift.
Why are you struggling to get volunteers?
Associations typically rely heavily on volunteers to help fulfill their mission. In recent years, recruiting volunteers has become more difficult due to a number of factors, including:
- Lack of volunteer time. With professionals juggling work, family and other commitments, time is a notable barrier to volunteer commitment, especially for long-term roles of one to two years of service. During the pandemic, many volunteers have stepped back as other family and business needs take priority.
- Lack of perceived value drivers and engagement. The volunteer experience needs to be about value for your volunteers, not just for your organization. Many times, that value isn’t clear or compelling enough to overcome the time constraint issue.
- Lack of organizational adaptability. Often, the association staff know that they need to change the volunteer experience, but volunteer leadership is resistant to that transition. What used to work may not work anymore.