Top tips to effective lead volunteers – keys to getting great results

Below are some of my keys insights from my work in the field of leading volunteers. This includes coordinating over 700 volunteers at the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind and working with senior business leaders include:

Form follows function.It is essential that the focus of the ministry be clear so people know what impact they are trying to achieve. A key question I ask leaders involved in fundraising is “if you closed your doors tomorrow what would be the impact”. What would you like the impact to be? What factors do you need to put in place in order to get there?

Protect your enthusiasm. Without enthusiasm of the ministry leader, nothing else will work. There are several quotes pointing to the power of enthusiasm, one of my favourites is “There is only one thing more contagious than enthusiasm – lack of enthusiasm”. Thus a key component is ensuring the leader keeps themselves energised and puts systems in place to do so. Having clear boundaries, taking time for oneself, working in a tidy, positive environment are just a few of the tips to avoid burnout and ensure leaders remain positive.

Don’t be shy asking about motivations People volunteer for a reason and as a leader it is important we know what that is. With so many competing elements for a volunteers time, clearly asking “what do you hope to get out of this” ensures you can tailor the role to the outcome that they want. Volunteers often do things for “love” or a “passion” but if we can link this to other opportunities such as “building greater networks” or “becoming part of the wider family” – it helps

Be prepared to say no. The biggest time waster in leadership is the inability to say no. People often confuse volunteering with helping – this is only the case if they have the motivation, skills and ability to be able to do the role. As a leader time is one of your most precious resource – so effectively managing this by setting boundaries and saying no to volunteers who “don’t quite fit” remains you stay empowered.

Delegation vs. abdication. Counselor, Dave Riddell makes the distinction between delegation and abdication as a leader. Delegation means you still retain responsibility over what you have asked someone else to do. Abdication means you have passed it off, hoping it will get done. Ensure if you have asked a volunteer to do a role you keep in the loop as to how performance is going and give them the support they need. Ultimately as the leader you are responsible for the outcome.

A great article I often refer clients to read is – “the call for leadership”. If you are interested in finding out more about this topic email I can send you the call for leadership article and also offer a free 15 minute consultation to discuss your needs in becoming a more effective leader.

Look forward to hearing from you and go well. Be Strong.


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