This month, the Donor By Design Group is challenging you to take action, moving from resolutions to results. Today’s topic? Unwrapping the gifts your volunteers bring.
For our family, the month of December is filled with holiday decorations, family gatherings and an ever-growing accumulation of gifts lovingly wrapped and place beneath the Christmas tree. From Christmas to New Years, each of those gifts is opened, appreciated and celebrated. As a child, I remember the excitement and anticipation of opening the gifts with my name on the tag. As an adult, my greatest joy now comes from the giving of gifts.
While every family has their own traditions for gift giving, my family opens gifts one at a time but not until they have the full attention of everyone in the room. While I still enjoy opening gifts from others, the highlight for me is watching others open the gift I have chosen just for them.
You can imagine how disappointed I would be if after I presented them with my unique gift they simply put it aside, unopened and unappreciated. Who would do that? Well, I think we do it all the time! Too often, people come to us with gifts to share and we never take the time to open them up and discover what they offer.
I spend a lot of time working with not-for-profit leaders on board development and volunteer engagement. So often I hear frustration from organizational leaders who feel that their volunteers are under-performing and disconnected. When pressed, they are very confident that they have clearly communicated the expectations of the volunteers, complete with job descriptions, timelines and success measures. They have made it very clear what the organization needs and expects from the volunteers yet a disconnect remains. What’s going on?
While we spend a great deal of time clarifying what we need from volunteers, we spend far too little time understanding what they need and what gifts they are eager to share. Each volunteer comes to us with unique knowledge, skills, passions and abilities. Too often they present us with their unique gifts and we never take the time to open and appreciate them. And we wonder why volunteers can appear unenthused and disengaged.
If you want the most from your volunteers, take the time to understand, appreciate and utilize the unique gifts they bring. Once you understand how they are best gifted to move your mission forward, you are ready to maximize their individual and collective passions.
Take action on this by asking your volunteers three simple questions:
- Why have you chosen to give your time, talent and treasure to our organization?
- What special gifts (skills, passions, experience, etc.) do you bring?
- How do you define success related to your volunteerism with us?
Don’t let the gifts your volunteers bring go unappreciated and unnoticed in 2017!