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Nonprofit volunteers were the focus of a tweet last week from a friend involved in the Social Media Club of Kansas City who works in the nonprofit sector. The tweet was about the challenge of managing an influx of nonprofit volunteers who want to contribute time and expertise to an organization. Handling monetary contributions is relatively easy – send a check, fill out an online credit card form, establish an electronic funds transfer. But with nonprofit volunteers seeking to offer their effort, someone in the nonprofit organization has to allocate time to coordinate, train, and supervise these volunteers. Despite the typical need for help, this can create a real choke point leading to both nonprofit volunteers and staff  becoming frustrated and dissatisfied.

We’ll be addressing this potential issue as an opportunity today as The Brainzooming Group facilitates a communications strategy session today for the Jackson County CASA. Long-time blog reader and former co-worker Terry Kincheloe is heading up the CASA marketing committee, and our session objective is tied to creating stronger messaging strategy and connections with key CASA audiences, including volunteers for the nonprofit organization.

My tweeted suggestion back to my friend, and something we’ll explore in more depth today for CASA, is to create job descriptions for nonprofit volunteer positions.

By taking time upfront to craft job descriptions of roles volunteers can play in a nonprofit organization, they can help match themselves to appropriate roles, identify training needs (and potentially self-train if resources are available), and be more successful with greater self-management of their volunteering effort.

This approach, however, isn’t limited to nonprofits.

When I was directing our company’s NASCAR sponsorship marketing strategy, we both needed broad organizational help to make the program work and had a lot of people (usually big NASCAR fans) who wanted to be involved with the sponsorship marketing effort. The mismatch came from people not understanding what help we needed and being able to determine whether they were still interested. Through finally coming up with several job descriptions, it became easier to let people know what we needed and get them started contributing time with less supervision from our department’s NASCAR sponsorship team.

Look at your own efforts. No matter the size of your organization, are you doing things to help “volunteer” supporters (and in turn yourself) act on their interest in your cause and be more successful at it? If you are doing a great job at this, what strategies are you using to make it happen? – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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  1. Tweets that mention Nonprofit Volunteers - Helping Them Be Successful | The Brainzooming Group | Strategy Consulting and Strategic Planning -- Topsy.com - February 16, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nate Riggs , TalentCulture, Mike Brown, Mike Brown, Mike Brown and others. Mike Brown said: Helping "Volunteers" Be Successful Promoting Your Cause http://bit.ly/e9RYQ2 #nonprofits #marketing […]

  2. Fast Company – Creative Strategy Lessons from the 100 Most Creative People in Business 2012 | The Brainzooming Group | Strategy Consulting and Strategic Planning - May 29, 2012

    […] volunteers are able to use their natural talents and expertise (as opposed to donating time for something they’re not good at doing), you’re more likely to […]

  3. Creative Inspirations from the Fast Company 100 Most Creative People in Business List | The Brainzooming Group | Strategy Consulting and Strategic Planning - June 2, 2012

    […] When volunteers are able to use their natural talents and expertise (as opposed to donating time for something they’re not good at doing), you’re more likely to retain them.  – Rachel Chong – Founder, CEO, Catchafire (#56) […]