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The Mission Driven Volunteer

Lori Halley 23 August 2013 1 comments

This is a guest post by Peggy Hoffman, CAE, President, Mariner Management & Marketing and Elizabeth Weaver Engel, M.A., CAE, CEO & Chief Strategist, Spark Consulting LLC.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have an abundance of engaged, highly motivated volunteers who are brimming with ideas your association actually implements?

Unfortunately, our world tends to look more like this:

  • Difficulty recruiting volunteers
  • Do-nothing committees
  • Poorly attended meetings
  • No new ideas
  • Volunteer burn out
  • Disengaged and disheartened volunteers

We believe that’s because the current model of association volunteering, based on standing committees, is broken. All that dysfunction is an artifact of a system that values form, position, and title over function, meaning, and action.

This model is pathological for several reasons:

  • It ignores the reality of generational differences.
  • It handcuffs organizational decision-making.
  • It limits opportunities for involvement.

There is another way, though: Mission Driven Volunteering.

A number of research studies and innovative volunteer-supported projects provide us with a new working definition for volunteerism: giving one’s time and talent to drive mission. This new definition draws on two intrinsic motivations to volunteer, with the focus on the outcomes of volunteering and the functions needed to drive those outcomes. This turns the image of volunteering, which traditionally starts with a Board and trickles down or begins with the job title and then the description, upside down.

Mission driven volunteering takes advantage of the top five drivers to volunteering, as delineated in ASAE’s 2008 research report, The Decision to Volunteer:

  1. It’s important to help others
  2. Do something for profession/cause important to me
  3. Feel compassion for others
  4. Gain new perspectives
  5. Explore my own strengths

Mission driven volunteering also embraces adhocracy as a governance model and micro-volunteering, which allows your members to contribute their time and talents in small, convenient increments.

This isn’t an easy switch to make. However, the era in which members had ample time and resources to serve on traditionally-organized committees that made all decisions slowly, deliberatively, and collaboratively is over. Data shows that your members still very much want to contribute their ideas and energy to your association, and, through you, to the profession or industry you serve. But they are asking for new things from your association. They want to contribute in ways that are meaningful to them and make a demonstrable difference, in small bites, and on – and only on – their schedules. They are mission-driven volunteers. Are you ready for them?

Download The Mission Driven Volunteer White Paper

Excerpted from the new Mariner/Spark white paper: The Mission Driven Volunteer. Download your free copy at http://bit.ly/13Wwe1F.

Peggy Hoffman, CAE, has more than 30 years working in associations and with member volunteers and today leads an association management company which focuses on supporting volunteer leaders. Connect on Twitter @peggyhoffman or check her blog at http://www.marinermanagement.com/resources.

Elizabeth Weaver Engel, MA, CAE has been a member of the association community for over 16 years. She is currently CEO & Chief Strategist at Spark Consulting LLC: Explosive Growth for Associations, www.getmespark.com.

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

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Friday, 23 August 2013 at 8:30 AM


  • Rick Kerner said:

    Friday, 23 August 2013 at 12:16 PM
    Hi Lori,
    Thanks for sharing.
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