Should Nonprofit Staff Volunteer Alongside Volunteers?
I had spent much of my time on Saturday as a staff member, volunteering to collaborate with volunteers on a special project. Needless to say, I was tired as I authored this article on Sunday.
The Salvation Army in Indianapolis operates a Harbor Light Center, which saves the lives of consumers who are suffering from addictions with tobacco, alcohol and drugs. A volunteer project evolved from the withdrawal management unit, with a focus on replacing old beds and lockers.
The project was very labor intensive and required many volunteers. Staff also volunteered to assist. I thought I was going to spend the day constructing beds and lockers. I ended up taking metal beds out of the facility. The consumers in the facility were so appreciative of this project. I loved every minute of the blood, sweat and tears it took to improve the health care experience for those in need. Driving home from this endeavor it occurred to me, should nonprofit staff volunteer to collaborate with volunteers?
Why should people volunteer universally for nonprofits in the first place? On the nonprofit side, volunteers help in big ways by reducing operational costs and improving the service delivery quality. The specialized skills volunteers have also enhances the nonprofit experience and provides a lifetime’s worth of various external experiences, knowledge and perspective that the organization needs.
According to Positive Force Consulting, people typically volunteer:
- As a personal tie to the cause
- To build a resume
- To bridge the gap between yourself and others
- To set a good example for others
- As a way to meet like-minded, motivated and positive people
- Because the experience offers unique and exciting opportunities
- Because doing good is important
- To create a feeling of empowerment
- Because volunteering has never been easier
- To get or stay healthy physically
- To get a greater perspective and self-awareness
- Because volunteering is good for you
When you think of volunteering, you believe you are giving your time, talent and treasure to help others through free community service. Grow Ensemble’s perspective on volunteering notes that volunteering allows you to build communities, potentially improve job prospects; provide mental stimulation; gain understanding about various causes; boost self-esteem; gain a sense of purpose; and increase your brain function. Negatives to volunteering include the fact it is time consuming; some tasks may be boring and repetitive; it may take volunteering at several organizations to find the right fit for you; and you may feel volunteering is not right for you.
If you are a leader in a business, you may experience the joy of encouraging your employees to volunteer to assist a nonprofit. PRNewsonline provides six reasons why you should encourage employees to volunteer and those are: building transferable skills, good for health, providing intrinsic sense of accomplishment, enabling employees to spend quality time with families, doing good is good for business, and it strengthens your community as you invest in it. Letting employees volunteer is a win-win scenario for them and the nonprofit they assist.
Should nonprofit staff volunteer with volunteers? I say this should be encouraged if it is infrequent and the tasks involved are unrelated to the employee’s normal work. In fact, beyond staff, organizational leadership and board leadership should engage with volunteers on projects from time to time.
Why should internal volunteering be promoted?
1.Staff volunteering means you support the volunteers and staff of the organization benefiting from your volunteerism.
- You believe in having staff members work as a team that builds a spirit of teamwork, builds interpersonal relationships and decreases staff turnover.
- When board members volunteer, they see the mission of the organization firsthand and can promote a different vision to potential donor prospects.
- You are showing volunteers that you walk the walk and stand side by side with them.
- You are showing the external community the bond of your nonprofit and the work, while hard, is fun and rewarding.
- You, as an employee, feel you are making a difference.
As a nonprofit staff member, I encourage you to not only volunteer for internal organizational projects from time to time but serve other organizations in the community that stimulate your passion. All of us need to give whatever time, talent and treasure we have to promote our society. By volunteering, you will gain a better view of the world, and this will improve your daily function as you will see your job from a unique perspective.
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy.