Is the word “volunteer” limiting recruitment?
I’m concerned that the word Volunteer may be limiting our ability to recruit some very needed assistance.
If I had to wager a guess, I’d bet that when most people hear the word Volunteer they are likely to think of direct service — like building a house for a deserving family, or serving meals at a soup kitchen, or cutting trails or dragging debris out of a river on Earth Day.
Programs that promote volunteerism or community service jobs tend to focus on these shorter term, immediate reward type of assignments.
But every day I encounter small organizations that desperately could use a different type of volunteer, like someone to:
- show up each day to answer the phone or file papers,
- see that important communications tasks are completed, like getting the newsletter out the door (or into email) on a regular schedule, keeping the mailing list up-to-date, managing the twitter feeds, or sending thank you notes to donors,
- organize the monthly open house to introduce prospective donors to their organization,
- help with cash flow analysis or long-term revenue projections, or
- plan and implement those monthly programs from start to finish.
They especially could use someone willing to serve as their volunteer coordinator, a volunteer who understands that some of the best service they could give would be to help recruit self-managing volunteers for these other important, but not so obvious, assignments.
Did I forget to mention serving on the Board?
The Samaritans have telephone befrienders, those highly trained volunteers who staff their 24 hour suicide prevention hotlines.
Museums and zoos recruit docents, those volunteers who agree to specialized training and a long term commitment so they can lead tours or provide information to visitors. Docent sounds so much more important than a mere volunteer, don’t you think?
I think it’s time for some serious brainstorming to come up with a slew of new words to describe fundraising, financial, operations and project manager volunteers.
All ideas welcome.