Principle #5 – Your commitment gets their commitment. We can only expect a person to be as committed as we we are. We commit to them by providing clear leadership and expectations.
In Grade 9 I was in a class called Recreation 30. It was a special class offered to deal with too many students in the Home Economics and Industrial Arts class that year. Think field trips and that was essentially the class. Part way through the year though our class went and volunteered at Robin Hood. A school and community that works with and empowers individuals with different developmental challenges and special needs. Great program and great people.
After our class visit there I was asked if I would volunteer a lunch a week to meet with one of the clients there. I said yes very quickly and my first lunchtime meeting came so I went over to Robin Hood. I was placed in a gym with one of the clients and left alone there with him. I had no idea what I was doing.
I’m not sure who suggested the partnership but I do know I was asked to make a commitment, but no commitment was made back to me. No one supported me, no one asked how I was doing, and no one worked with me to develop the confidence/comfort/skills/knowledge/understanding (check one or all of the above) that help me do what I was asked successfully. I remember my last time there walking out because I had to go back to school at lunch and no one asking me anything or saying anything to me. I never returned for another lunch. I felt horrible. No one called to ask why I didn’t return.
Now please here me – Robin Hood Association is a great organization and does wonderful work and as an adult my value for them grew substantially. My point is that for any organization the commitment we want from volunteers needs to be met by our own commitment to them. Clear expectations, prompt resourcing, good communication, effective training are just some of the ways we can show our commitment to our volunteers.
When I recruit a volunteer I explain what my commitment to them is, and what sort of commitment I would like them to make. Then we do that. The beautiful thing about this? When you follow through (or exceed) your commitment? Chances are you’ll find you have less volunteer recruiting to do down the road.