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Engaging Volunteers: Making it Relevant

Posted May 1, 2008 11:09 AM by Dylan Miyake

A constant problem for many not-for-profit organizations is recruiting, engaging, and retaining volunteers. The volunteer labor force has a lot of benefits: it costs little and is typically passionate about the cause. But volunteers bring baggage, too: there's a lot of turnonver and retraining required and they typically have their own ideas (not all bad) on how to acheive the organization's objectives.

Harnessing the passion of your volunteers and aligning them with your strategy is always a challenge, but the Balanced Scorecard can help make this a less daunting challege. For example, when a new volunteer starts up with your organization, you could sit her down with your Balanced Scorecard and Strategy Map and explain how her volunteer time is contributing directly to the mission -- even if it's doing something as mundane as stuffing envelopes.

When it comes time for your periodic review of your performance against your strategy, you should include your volunteer workforce in the discussion as well. These "front line" volunteers may have a lot of good insight into how to solve the problems you're tackling, and you can channel their enthusiasm and spirit into working with you on key initiatives.

Finally, use your Balanced Scorecard to communicate to your broad cadre of constituents -- including lapsed volunteers. By articulating the strategy in a way that they can understand, you may be able to rekindle interest in your organization and reengage volunteers that -- for whatever reason -- are no longer active with your organization.

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