Yesterday’s post ARE VOLUNTEERS WALKING OUT ON YOU? covered background information on a thorough exploratory study in Canada to understand the motivations of volunteers and how to make the volunteer experience more rewarding. (Click here to link to the Volunteer Canada study.)
They wanted to find out:
What do volunteers want from their volunteer experiences?
What are the issues that discourage volunteerism?
How does one find a satisfying volunteer role?
What can organizations do to secure and improve their volunteer base?
In the surveys there were a number of problematic themes that became evident.
Where are the disparities?
Organizations: A need to define roles and boundaries for volunteers
Volunteers: Want flexibility to create their own volunteer roles suitable for their preferences
Organizations: Desire and need to have long-term commitments from volunteers
Volunteers: More volunteers are now seeking shorter-term opportunities
Organizations: They focus on their operational needs
Volunteers: They need to satisfy their own personal goals
For organizations, it has been difficult to get their manpower needs consistently met and effectively manage the diversity of talents and interests offered to them.
For volunteers, some of the barriers and disappointments are:
- Perceived organizational politics
- Belief that skills were not being put to best use
- Frustration regarding management, lack of it, and/or quality of leadership of volunteer activities
- Not feeling like one is making a difference, or significant enough difference
- Roles and activities weren’t matched with the volunteer’s particular interests and skills
- [I would add that a sense of social-cultural acceptance and conformity is an important factor. It is derived from leadership and/or from fellow volunteers. A sense of feeling included is generally necessary—making the connection . . .]
What factors are changing the nature of volunteerism?
- Dramatic advances in technology and the resulting cultural changes
- Shifting demographics within a community
- A younger volunteer pool has emerged, including first-timers—while leadership tends to be older [i.e. generation gaps]
- Many younger volunteers want to volunteer alongside their friends
- More families want to volunteer as a unit and want more activity options suitable for children
- Older volunteers are mostly motivated by the organization’s mission
- More corporations and HR departments are seeking group activities
Many established organizations have been caught by surprise, many failing to adapt to the quick changing social media and technology changes, and the cultural changes prompted by these technology changes.
And it was found that many of the non-profit organizations did not have the tools, training, and strategies in place to accommodate new interested groups such as youth, civic, corporate and family groups.
The next Garden Club Salon post will offer their recommendations for volunteer success and retention [and I’ll offer a few of my own bits of advice!]
Nancy R. Peck
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