Tag Archives: Goals

3 Needs of a Volunteer: Vision

8 Feb

I have probably spent more time in my life volunteering than I have spent being gainfully employed. I have volunteered at nursing homes and in church nurseries. I’ve volunteered for presidential campaigns and people running for city council. I’ve done volunteer teaching in karate dojos, inner-city schools in Memphis, and English camps in rural Taiwan. I’ve also recruited, trained, supervised, and run interference on (because you can’t really fire them) volunteers. I have to say, I love it all!

I’ve never run across anyone who wouldn’t admit to the extreme value of volunteers, but I have seen quite a few people and organizations who don’t know how to use them correctly. They’re like a child turned loose with a screw gun. It’s big, it’s cool, and can be very useful, but they don’t know what they’re doing with it and end up damaging the structure, themselves, or the gun. To counter that, I present 3 (basic) needs of a volunteer. This is written to those organizations who utilize volunteers and the people in those groups that supervise volunteers. Since I’ve been on both sides of the coin, I will switch perspectives between organization/supervisor and volunteer. Try to keep up. 😉

1. Vision

Sometimes organizations get the idea that you can keep volunteers satisfied with goodies. Feed them, provide a party every now and then, bring in the organization celebrity (war refugee, Elmo, whoever) for a private reception, etc.. and they’ll be happy right? Well, volunteers probably won’t say no to any of those things (tip: they’re probably tired of pizza), what really keeps people going is seeing progress towards the vision of the organization. The very fact that someone is volunteering for an organization probably means they’ve seen some of the vision already and like it. You need to tell them how their task jives with that vision. Detailed mind and big-picture mindset are not mutually exclusive of each other. Volunteers need to know how their details fit into the big picture.

If you keep yourself and the volunteers focused on the big goal, the vision you eliminate most of the drama that goes with people trying to prove themselves. Yes, this includes you. Many of us are just newly promoted from volunteers and have the insecure urge of proving yourself different from the volunteers, sometimes to the volunteers. Some volunteers want to prove their passion, their work ethic, or innate worth to you by overworking themselves, being ridiculously emotional about everything, or always trying to edge their way into the presence of the organizational celebrity (candidate, founder, rehabilitated whale—whatever the case may be). Perhaps the most irritating to me is the volunteer who feels the need to prove his experience. Every conversation turns into a recitation of his resume. These are also the volunteers who usually feel I’m too young to be telling them what to do (another post, another day!) The bottom line is that if you keep people satisfied by tying their work into the vision of the organization, no one needs to prove themselves to anyone.

As people continue to volunteer they also need a retrospective vision. Show them how far the organization has come and exactly how their efforts have gotten you there. Tell people how (method) and how much (quantity) they’re making dreams into reality. Although it sounds like I’m going there, I cannot recommend going as far as a rewards system, though. Volunteers are usually satisfied just with knowing someone noticed what they accomplished.


28 Dec

Photo by Augustin Ruiz

Every year I enjoy this quiet week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. It’s relaxed but still full of family. And full of awesome things like the Google Zeitgeist and Top 10 Everything List. All together it lends itself perfectly to reflection. I spend a lot of time journaling and then having late-night discussions with my family. (I believe with Mrs. Brown in National Velvet that big dreams come easier at night.)

I sway back and forth on the merits of New Year resolutions. In my experience, they’re not thought through. They’re not implemented in small enough steps. All together, they usually just end up being guilt trips I can beat myself up with next December. However, maybe if I spent more time on reflecting rather than resolving my goals would come naturally and in easier packages to handle. (BTW, I think dreams should be big, but they don’t make good one-year projects.) Therefore, here are some reflections with resolutions that fit with them. These are all on the professional side. I might share some of my personal reflections here later this week.

1. Reflect on the practical things I learned

Did you learn how to use a new payroll system? Did you finally master a social media tool? Did you earn a certification in anything? Personally, I learned how to use Google+, corporate LinkedIn pages, Google Apps, WordPress domains, and much more about Hootsuite than I had known before.

Resolve to…

  • teach someone else what I’ve learned
  • record my accomplishments in a resume, portfolio or on my LinkedIn profile
  • use these skills to help other individuals and businesses

2. Reflect on the most memorable experiences I had

What did you do professionaly this year that just took your breath away? Did you do something incredibly difficult? Did you do something that you hadn’t before? Did you get to be a part of something awesome? This year I started this adventure known as Magic Bottle Marketing which is turning out to be incredible! I also started writing more frequently on a professional level this year, which has been both a learning and fun experience. Several amazing things happened in my other professional life of politics. Six different times this year I was so very humbled by excellent candidates asking me to be a part of their team.

Resolve to…

  • Give back to those who enabled these amazing experiences
  • Record what happened for future learning and warm fuzzy feelings
  • Help someone else have a similar experience
  • Remain open-hearted and open-minded in the coming year so it too can have awesome experiences

Reflect on the abstract things I realized

Sometimes several different experiences and thoughts collide and snap together in your head for a light bulb moment. Did you have any of these this year? This summer I was fuming over another business I frequent starting a personal Facebook profile for their business when things snapped together in my mind with an almost audible ‘Do it yourself Anna!’ and Magic Bottle Marketing started happening. Another realization this year was a gradual adjusting to new norms with some health issues I’ve had. That may sound more personal, but it certainly affects my professional life.

These abstract things we learn are harder to coalesce into hard goals. For myself, I think I would have come to these realizations sooner and perhaps had more of them if I had been more mindful all the time. Therefore, I

Resolve to…