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Dear Board...Observations From a New Volunteer

Lori Halley  17 May 2013  0 comments

The May Nonprofit Blog Carnival host, Erik Anderson (Donor Dreams Blog), asked us to write “an anonymous letter to a nonprofit board about something they do that drives [us] crazy”. 

Since we hear a lot of comments and feedback from the volunteers involved with non-profits and membership organizations, we thought we’d share some of this insight from the perspective of a volunteer who is new to an organization.

And to meet Erik’s challenge to incorporate Dr. Suess into our post, we’ve tried to find a fun quote that corresponds to each of the observations in our letter. (Click on the image to view the full Dr. Suess infographic.)

Dear Board Volunteers: 

First I’d like to start by saying that this is a terrific organization, doing amazing work – that’s what motivated me to get involved. And since we all want the organization to be successful in meeting its mission, as a volunteer who is new to your organization, I have a few observations I’d like to share. 

They say I’m old-fashioned, and live in the past, but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast! (Dr. Seuss – The Lorax) 

The board and all of the existing volunteers have been doing a great job of leading this organization. But I wonder if you couldn’t be a little more open to new ideas or new ways of doing things?

While I’ve only been with the organization for six months, I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard: “that’s not how we do it here” or “this is how we’ve always done it here”.

Do you think the organization might be missing out on opportunities for growth that are not being considered simply because they are new or different?

You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go... (Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!)

As a new volunteer, I’m trying to fit in, learn how you do things and help out as best I can. But some of the volunteers who have been involved for many years seem a little reluctant to welcome and support newcomers. In fact, some of the volunteers supervising things can be downright intimidating! 

It might help to offer volunteer orientation and welcoming sessions, or provide some form of buddy system to help volunteers get off to a good start and feel part of the organization. After all, we should all be working together as a team to reach our collective goals.

We’ve GOT to make noises in greater amounts!
So, open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts! (Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who!)

New volunteers – both young and old – want to feel their voices count.  So whether it is something as simple as getting involved with selecting a theme for a fundraising event, or suggesting new social networks, volunteers should be able to offer new ideas and provide their own brand of expertise to help meet the organization’s mission.

UNLESS someone like YOU cares a whole awful lot, NOTHING is going to get better. It’s NOT.

Finally, as the elected board, you are steering this great organization towards meeting its goals. But you are also responsible for setting the tone for the organization’s culture – one that should be welcoming, inclusive and appreciative of all volunteers.

Do any of the points we raised in this letter resonate with you?  Has your organization dealt with any of these volunteer issues? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Friday, 17 May 2013 at 8:29 AM
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