Friday, April 17, 2009

Tell Me What’s Good About Tough Times: Volunteers!

The Opportunity To Be A Volunteer

A friend, laid off from her current development job, started volunteering as a docent in an organization seeking a development director. Her time investment provides her with an insider’s view of the organization and will help her ascertain if a future position with them is a good fit. Meanwhile, she’s enjoying the opportunity to try a new role and learning, benefits that she will take with her wherever she settles. She shared, “I had a blast leading people around the facility.”

If you are an unemployed nonprofit leader, think about selectively volunteering. You can avoid giving away your expertise (i.e., doing the development job for free) by selecting a new role that will help you to learn a new skill.

The Skills of Volunteers

Likewise, if you work in a nonprofit, this is fabulous time to meet some of your needs with new volunteers. “People are constantly contacting us who have incredible skills, but seek experience with seniors,” noted Susan Wenzel, Director of Volunteers at The Pines, an older adult housing and health care facility. Consider actively seeking members of the skilled, but unemployed, workforce. That is, people looking for meaningful way to invest their time and enhance their skills. To find them, consider new recruitment venues, like job services, Craig's List, outplacement firms or contacting firms laying-off people in areas where you need help.

To take advantage of these volunteers, design specific short-term, flexible experiences like refurbishing the library, designing a volunteer orientation program or helping a child improve their academic level in one subject with twice a week meetings for one month. While many of these volunteers will have a temporary tenure, others, if the experience is positive, will continue their relationship with your nonprofit long-term.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for your article, Karen.

    I just read another great article in the Boston Business Journal about the increasing numbers of people volunteering with non-profit organizations.

    The entire article can be accessed at

    Sylva Leduc
    The Leadership Strategist