“AHHH! What to do? Too many volunteers – Nonprofits are overwhelmed, volunteers underwhelmed!” that was the teaser Chris Jarvis posted to Twitter.  With a line like that I couldn’t help but follow the link he left.  And his blog post titled Six Reasons Why You’ll Never Volunteer Again did not disappoint.

As Chris points out so well, many nonprofits have not been good at creating a positive volunteer experience.

Yes, most people volunteer because they want to make a difference, but…most non-profits are structured to utilize volunteers so that they (the org) can make a difference. These two objectives are often at odds and can consequently create hard feelings. On the other hand, you may be able to find a task that not only suits you, but achieves some goals you have around learning new skills. More likely, you’ll have to take whatever job you’re given.

I highly recommend that anyone who works for a nonprofit read this.  Actually, how about printing it out and reading more than once.  Share with your colleagues and seriously consider how you can help create a more positive experience for your volunteers.

For a humorous take on this topic, check out this Sonic commercial. The husband suggests things from the menu he’d like and is repeatedly overruled.  Now imagine that he’s offering to volunteer.  He suggests ways that would be meaningful to him to help.  Yet, he’s similarly overruled every time.

Posted on 30 March 2009

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