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Volunteers: Finding Them & Keeping Them - FGS Wiki

Volunteers: Finding Them & Keeping Them


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[NOTE: this page has not yet been formatted.  If you are interested in assisting in the care and maintenance of the FGS Wiki Content, please contact Thomas MacEntee at publicity@fgs.org.]
 
  
[[Category:Strategies for Societies]][[Category:Clifford, Karen]][[Category:Membership]][[Category:Volunteers]]
+
== INTRODUCTION ==
 +
 
 +
Genealogy societies, ethnic organizations, and
 +
family or single-name associations exist to meet
 +
the unique needs of their members. The services
 +
they provide, although similar in nature, are often
 +
customized to these needs. But one thing these
 +
groups share is that, as nonprofit societies, they
 +
require volunteers to accomplish their many
 +
goals.
 +
 
 +
Consider your own organization. Do you fall
 +
within any of these situations?
 +
<ul>
 +
<li>There is much genealogical interest but
 +
you have little room and equipment or
 +
facilities to work with, and never enough
 +
volunteers to get the work done.
 +
<li>There is great expertise in genealogy in
 +
your group, much interest, but little or no
 +
organization.
 +
<li>There is great interest, little expertise, but
 +
good organization.
 +
<li>There is much interest, several volunteers
 +
with little experience, room and facilities
 +
are available, and organization is
 +
complete.
 +
</ul>
 +
 
 +
Each of these situations could use some help but
 +
all of them need volunteers in one area or
 +
another. In one case volunteers may be needed
 +
to direct what few resources are available. I like
 +
to think of them as “facility cops.” If you only
 +
have one computer and everyone wants to use it,
 +
you need a strong volunteer to police the
 +
activities and keep the masses under control.
 +
If some members have great expertise in
 +
genealogy, they could quickly burn out if they
 +
must do everything a society requires. If you
 +
need volunteers with greater genealogy expertise,
 +
a training program may be the solution. Let’s
 +
look at each of these options and see what other
 +
societies have done.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== DETERMINE A SPECIFIC GOAL ==
 +
 
 +
First of all, specifically determine the projects or
 +
leadership positions you are interested in or for
 +
which you need volunteers. Focus on one
 +
project or position at a time. Enlist the help of
 +
others as indicated below.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== DETERMINE LEVEL OF INTEREST ==
 +
 
 +
The level of interest toward starting a particular
 +
project, expanding a genealogy society, moving
 +
to a new locality, setting up a training program,
 +
finding a new leader, or whatever your society goal might be, could be determined by doing the
 +
following:
 +
 
 +
Discuss your ideas in a small informal meeting
 +
between like-minded individuals.
 +
<ul>
 +
<li>While holding a regularly scheduled
 +
meeting at another event, take an oral
 +
survey.
 +
<li>Personally contact other interested
 +
individuals.
 +
<li>Conduct a written survey of associated
 +
organizations.
 +
<li>Hold a question and answer session at
 +
another event.
 +
</ul>
 +
 
 +
Once you have identified the level of interest,
 +
identify specific potential contributors.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== IDENTIFY THE CONTRIBUTORS ==
 +
<ul>
 +
<li>Board members, leaders, committee heads.
 +
Members of your board, past or present leaders,
 +
and committee heads can often provide the
 +
names of other potential volunteers or those who
 +
could train or mentor them. Past volunteers are
 +
an excellent reserve pool. They may be waiting
 +
to be asked to serve again.
 +
<li>Writers, promoters, editors. Those who have
 +
a talent for promoting your ideas to potential
 +
volunteers are the writers, promoters, and
 +
editors in your society. Try to identify those
 +
individuals who could market the needs of your
 +
society well. They must fully understand your
 +
goals and objectives because they will present
 +
your case to the general public in an attempt to
 +
attract new volunteers from the community at
 +
large.
 +
<li>Educators, teachers, mentors, trainers. Those
 +
who naturally make good trainers and mentors
 +
for new volunteers are those who have had some
 +
teaching experience. Nearly every genealogist
 +
has an area of interest and some knowledge a
 +
beginner would not have. The idea is to help
 +
potential trainers discover their own strengths
 +
and the skills to teach others what they know.
 +
Many of these people will not be needed to teach
 +
genealogy, but they may be needed to teach a
 +
genealogy computer program, how to use a
 +
computer in general, how to use the Internet,
 +
how to run a cash register if your society has
 +
one, how to access library materials, etc. These
 +
positive, supportive, people-loving individuals
 +
are perfect to train your volunteers.
 +
</ul>
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== ANALYZE YOUR RESOURCES ==
 +
 
 +
Once you have a list of people to consider, look
 +
at their individual needs. Professional people
 +
volunteer because they enjoy the association with
 +
like-minded individuals, and they will learn
 +
something they want to know while they share
 +
their knowledge with others.
 +
 
 +
Artistic volunteers like to share their artistic
 +
talents. Use them in your publicity functions, to
 +
help with flyers, and to organize your materials
 +
in attractive ways.
 +
 
 +
Use your honest, trustworthy volunteers to
 +
handle the financial responsibilities of your
 +
organization.
 +
 
 +
Many individuals who are in constant leadership
 +
positions may enjoy an opportunity to work
 +
solely on a project at their own pace IF they
 +
know what is expected of them and when.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== GETTING STARTED ==
 +
 
 +
The most important aspect is enthusiasm. It is
 +
like jam. It gets all over everyone. Next is solid,
 +
dependable leadership to develop a common
 +
philosophy. If your goals are defined with
 +
clearly written job descriptions for the
 +
volunteers, people will be more likely to
 +
volunteer. Why? Because they will know the
 +
extent of their volunteer service.
 +
 
 +
Teach the correct principle of delegation.
 +
Delegation is not passing the buck. Delegation
 +
is giving someone the opportunity to learn
 +
something new, to become involved in
 +
something worthwhile, to meet new friends
 +
along the way, to experience a sense of
 +
accomplishment, and to work side-by-side with
 +
you in an interesting project.
 +
 
 +
Finally, and most important, express appreciation
 +
over and over again. Volunteers receive no
 +
financial incentive to keep going. What they do
 +
receive is recognition from their peers, support in
 +
a common vocation, mostly enjoyable
 +
associations, and appreciation for their service.
 +
The more that sincere appreciation is extended to
 +
volunteers, the more they will want to continue
 +
their service.
 +
 
 +
Now let’s consider some specifics such as
 +
recruitment, advanced training for the “long
 +
haul,” and other rewards along the way.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== RECRUITMENT OF VOLUNTEERS ==
 +
 
 +
'''Advertising'''
 +
Your society newsletter is a
 +
wonderful place to advertise a need for
 +
volunteers to work on a specific project. The
 +
more specific the need, the more specific the
 +
newsletter ad should be.
 +
 
 +
Also, focus on the benefits. Why would
 +
someone want to be involved in extracting all
 +
the names out of this collection, for example?
 +
Will they learn a new computer program? Is
 +
there a potluck dinner planned for the end of the
 +
project? Does everyone who contributes get a
 +
copy of the product free or at a greatly reduced
 +
price? Or will the focus be on the enjoyment of
 +
working on a significant project?
 +
 
 +
'''One-on-one commitments'''
 +
We all know
 +
individuals to whom you cannot say no. They
 +
have an ability to get us involved in everything.
 +
Use individuals like that to enlist volunteer
 +
helpers. Have the person contact a certain
 +
number of people on a one-on-one basis.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== THE LONG HAUL ==
 +
 
 +
'''More enthusiasm'''
 +
Projects or commitments
 +
requiring several years are considered “long
 +
haul.” Leadership must constantly be providing
 +
continued enthusiasm and support to its
 +
volunteers. That support can be in the way of
 +
recognition, better facilities, easier or faster
 +
processes, and many other things. Mostly it
 +
involves appreciation.
 +
 
 +
'''Avoid burn out'''
 +
Rather than overwork the
 +
volunteers you already have, ask them to find
 +
others to share the responsibilities. This will
 +
require constant recruiting and constant training.
 +
Knowing this in advance means that lessons
 +
prepared for training should be saved to use
 +
again at a future date. It might also suggest that
 +
some lessons could be improved, shortened,
 +
lengthened, etc. Ask current volunteers for their
 +
input. Did they feel they received sufficient
 +
training? Could any of them mentor another?
 +
Have you found another potential teacher in the
 +
group?
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== REWARDING VOLUNTEERS ==
 +
 
 +
'''Seminars'''
 +
If your society is already putting on
 +
a genealogy seminar, let your volunteers attend
 +
at a greatly reduced price. They feel special this
 +
way and the increased training in the seminar
 +
might encourage them to become a leader in the
 +
future.
 +
 
 +
'''Training'''
 +
Advanced training and opportunities
 +
for the diligent volunteer are a form of reward.
 +
It says, “we trust what you are doing and we
 +
think you are capable of doing more.” Either
 +
provide them with more training or ask them to
 +
help train others.
 +
 
 +
'''Awards'''
 +
Awards can be provided along the
 +
way for diligent volunteers. They might be
 +
presented at local monthly meetings with extra
 +
attention given at local seminar luncheons.
 +
Don’t forget that the Federation of Genealogical
 +
Societies has some very special awards for those
 +
who have contributed in a significant way to the
 +
promotion of genealogical activities in your
 +
society. This is a way to recognize a volunteer
 +
nationally for work they have done locally.
 +
 
 +
One local society put up a spotlight of the month
 +
on a bulletin board in their society. Users of the
 +
facility could nominate anyone to be recognized
 +
for their volunteer service. A box was placed in
 +
the society research area to collect nominations.
 +
Volunteers tended to go the extra mile hoping to
 +
receive recognition for their special efforts.
 +
Leaders also watched for noteworthy
 +
contributions made by volunteers so they could
 +
nominate someone.
 +
 
 +
Another society puts on a potluck luncheon for
 +
their volunteers and presents a lovely program on
 +
behalf of these special people.
 +
 
 +
Another society, which was conducting a long
 +
term military indexing project, gave everyone on
 +
their volunteer team a military rank which
 +
historically existed at the time of the military
 +
records they were indexing. Military units were
 +
also set up to match the project. Individuals and
 +
units competed with each other to receive higher
 +
ranks and promotions by accomplishing greater
 +
and greater goals in their assigned projects.
 +
People were promoted from corporals to generals
 +
in the several years they worked on the projects.
 +
So many people volunteered for the project that
 +
entire “armies” were organized. In order to keep
 +
communication going between the various units,
 +
a newsletter was instituted where everyone could
 +
see the promotions of other volunteers. This
 +
encouraged greater competition and more work
 +
being done in a faster manner.
 +
 
 +
When this society’s leader came to report at the
 +
board meeting about his volunteers, he
 +
practically burst his buttons expressing his pride
 +
for his “troops.” He understood the value of
 +
training, communication, and appreciation. He
 +
had set specific goals and clearly defined job
 +
descriptions. He knew that the project he was
 +
undertaking was for the “long haul,” and he
 +
planned accordingly.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== CONCLUSION ==
 +
 
 +
Nonprofit organizations need volunteers to
 +
complete projects and provide member services.
 +
Attracting and keeping these important
 +
contributors is possible when a society identifies,
 +
recruits, trains, motivates, and rewards them.
 +
Generate enthusiasm to avoid the burnout caused
 +
by “long haul” projects, and these volunteers will
 +
help your society prosper.

Latest revision as of 07:44, 30 August 2013

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