June 21, 2009

My Experience on the Other Side...

As some of you may know, I recently began volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters in my local area. It has been rewarding on a number of levels, and I think the experiences that I've had over the past couple months can be instructive for other associations and non-profits when working with volunteers.

As a volunteer, the three most important things that BBBS has done to make my experience memorable and make me want to continue are:
  • They show me how the time I'm spending is making a difference - Each and every time I meet with my little brother, it is evident that the time I am spending is making his life better. I am also able to see how MY life is better because of the experiences we are sharing. People want to be able to understand and see the value their time is having, not only on others but also themselves...
How is your organization showing its volunteers how their time and effort is making a difference? It's an important aspect of making your volunteers understand their importance.
  • They make it easy- BBBS provides me with the support I need when I need it. For instance, I don't know all of the events happening each month in my area. But, each month, our match support specialist provides me with ideas for events that are happening in which my Little Brother and I can participate. That makes my volunteerism easy, which again makes me want to continue helping.
What are some ways in which you can make the volunteer experience easier for your members?
  • They connect me with like-minded volunteers - BBBS allows me to interact with other volunteers through monthly events. They include picnics, bowling get-togethers, and other fun events where not only the kids can get together, but also the adult volunteers. In the events that I have attended thus far, I have been able to talk with some of the other volunteers to pick their brains so in the future, I can be more prepared for things I am sure to face.
Are you deliberately putting your volunteers in positions where they can learn from one another? If not, how can you make sure to make this a priority?

I think that as we think about the experience of our volunteers, these three simple ideas can really enhance the experience of the folks who make our organizations go.

Why not be more deliberate in making sure these are happening with your organization? Who knows, you might even get some of your satisfied volunteers writing blog posts raving about their experience...

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