Don't Forget to Treat Your Volunteers Like the Valuable Assets They Are

Most non-profit organizations have fundraising events, usually including a signature event that requires an extensive amount of work.  Large events are often more than your employees alone can manage and occasionally, as in a golf tournament, can be outside an employee’s realm of knowledge.  Words like scramble, tee markers, and handicap may mean nothing to your employee, but your volunteer, who is an avid golfer, will derive great pleasure from assisting your employees with what is needed.  Volunteer committee members are an integral part of creating a successful event, and I would say they are probably your most valuable asset.  These are the people who are a part of your organization because they are committed to your cause and have a heart for what you do.  They are cheerleaders for your organization in the community you serve and they are also donors. 

Even if your volunteer committee members are not substantial monetary donors, I encourage you to think about the other ways they donate.  Perhaps they take the time to reach out to their contacts and fill six teams for your golf tournament.  Perhaps they come to your office to help stuff invitations for your annual gala.  Perhaps they teach your employees about tennis so they are better equipped to create a successful tennis tournament.  Perhaps they agree to chair your event and spend hours meeting with potential sponsors.  They are not directly giving you money in these instances, but they are donating their time, their expertise, and their reputation to help you.  Do not overlook these sorts of donations or, feeling undervalued, these volunteer committee members will move on to other organizations that do value what they can offer.

Your employees should always strive to provide the best customer service possible to your volunteer committee members. Often planning signature events can lead to daily contact with the committee chair or other committee members by your employees.  It can be easy in those times for an employee to forget that a volunteer committee member is helping because they want to do it and not because it is their job.  It is extremely important to stress to your employees that it is most definitely not your volunteer’s job and they can walk away from your organization at any minute.  It is the little things that often make the difference for your volunteers.  If they ask for a cup of coffee during a meeting, don’t just point the way to the machine, make it for them.  If they want to meet to go over your event itinerary, don’t drone on about how busy you are, make time for it.  The more important you make them feel, the harder they will work for you.   


Kristen Abreu is a Consultant at FQHC Associates, a health care consulting firm specializing in the needs of established, new and potential Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs).

Read more about Kristen here.

To contact Kristen, email her at KAbreu@fqhc.org.

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