“It seems like our volunteer meetings are times for the “in” gals to have fun with all of their favorites. I feel left out and don’t want to be a part of it anymore.”
Chances are you have never received feedback like that, but are you certain your group wouldn’t deserve it?
Unfortunately, most women will quietly withdraw rather than offer criticism. If you have lost volunteers, particularly if they have withdrawn friendship as well, you’d better do a temperature check.
Constructive Checklist Now Can Help Retention later
- Have history with certain volunteers, and does that cause you to feel closer to them?
- Enjoy some volunteers more than others, and spend more time with them?
- Offer opportunities equally to every volunteer or are you selective?
- Organize work and social events that everyone can enjoy?
- Call every volunteer to ask for feedback or just those you are most comfortable with?
- Strategically spread your attention across the entire group?
- Specifically strategize tasks to draw less-involved volunteers closer into the group?
The Allure of Star Power
It’s sad to say, but some of us are still as drawn to the popular crowd as when we were in school. It’s still an honor to be considered cool by the coolest. If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves bending over backwards to impress them and giving the best, most fun jobs to the volunteers wit the highest status. Don’t let the social standing of a few lead you to risk alienating your most dependable, lower profile volunteers.
The Masses, the Leaders, and the Core
Of course, you’ll need to spend more time with your committee chairs and core players, but remember to keep at least three areas of focus.
- You’ve got to pay attention to the masses. Offer attention and teaching to everyone in the crowd, remembering their names and interesting facts. Make sure they feel included and appreciated.
- You’ll ask more of your leaders, and helping them stay on task and keep motivated will effect on the entire group. Consider forming some type of leadership circle, where every committed volunteer, and not just handpicked favorites, is encouraged to step up to further responsibility.
- Within the leadership circle, there will likely be a core that gets even more attention for a variety of reasons, whether because they have greater committee responsibility or because we fill a mentoring role they lack.
A Heart to Serve
The problem with filling our volunteer roles with the popular or attractive is that they may or may not be willing to fulfill our main priorities for service. How much are you recruiting volunteers by issuing a call to service? Responsibilities and rewards need to be distributed equally, not just to your closest friends.
A leader must be readily accessible to every volunteer, not just the ones you know best and would see socially anyway. An easy way to do this is to have regular contact with each volunteer by email or phone. Or schedule a regular quick lunch or happy hour get together, and issue special invitations to volunteers who are hovering on the sidelines.
You can’t avoid being drawn to people you like. But you can strive to become an impartial leader who cultivates the gifts and abilities of every volunteer. With the right effort, you can make every volunteer feel that she is your favorite, just like the woman sitting next to her.
Adapted after an article by Syler Thomas./p>