Sunrise ... Sunset ...
I'll never forget the morning in Albany, Ga., when I was interviewing a leader for a feasibility study and he shared a jewel.
"Jeff," he said, "volunteers like sunrises and sunsets." He explained that volunteers want to know when their roles begin and when their roles will end — and what is needed to get the job done. That has resonated with me for more than a decade and impacted how we approach campaigns.
He spoke from experience. He had served on the board of one of the nation's largest nonprofits and led several campaigns and local boards.
As a volunteer, I've been put in roles that did not follow expectations. I can relate to the agony of campaign volunteers whose service has been extended as a campaign languished and the goal was not attained.
When you are working with volunteers, be sure that you honor their time and your commitments. Explain clearly what you expect — and what they can expect. Be sure that you set volunteers up for success.
If you're raising major dollars, your volunteers don't need to worry about details. That is your job as a professional. Think of the real estate adage — the "highest and best use." What is it that your volunteer leaders can do better than you or anyone else? Figure that out, and then provide them with the focus and support to be successful.
By being strategic, you will ensure glorious sunrises and stunning sunsets for your volunteers — and greater fundraising and mission success for your organization and those you so ably serve.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.