Demonstrate Leadership Theory for the NPO
OL 7104, Assignment 6
DuBose, Justin Z.
Dr. Gary McDaniel
3 November 2019
The Need for Volunteers
Research has demonstrated not only the necessity of volunteers in not-for-profit organizations, but also their underutilization (Vecina, 2013). Similarly, research has also concluded that not-for-profit organizations who invest more of their resources into their volunteers and their relationship and connectedness to the organization experience a greater degree of volunteer satisfaction (McAllum, 2014). Thus, the most important element to be understood and established is that this not-for-profit organization, like all others, is, in large part, dependent upon the need for volunteers in order to effectively carry out our mission in the community. However, it is equally important not only to understand the need for volunteers but also, and more importantly, the need for volunteers to be effectively engaged, motivated, and supported in their role.
Keeping volunteers motivated is one of the most challenging and important tasks of the volunteer relations manager. As a not-for-profit organization, much of what we do depends on our volunteer base, and keeping those volunteers engaged and motivated to perform their work is critical. Research on volunteer motivation has noted several important considerations for our organization, and especially for the volunteer relations manager tasked with recruiting and retaining volunteers. Building on existing literature on the subject of volunteer motivation can be helpful in providing a solid foundation that the volunteer relations manager can build upon on this organization.
Vecina (2013) concluded that levels of engagement and levels of commitment are different for all volunteers and in all organizations. Similarly, Puyvelde (2013) concluded that incentive structures which incorporate different types of objectives are good for recruitment and retention of volunteers. In other words, volunteers have different motivating forces which compel them to both engage and commit as volunteers with local organizations. The organizations studied by Puyvelde (2013) could be more effective, he concluded, if they identified multiple and varying objectives for their volunteers to work toward. This is important in understanding how to not only recruit a variety of volunteers, but also to motivate a variety of volunteers.
Vantilborgh (2018) concluded that volunteers will not continue to serve reliably when the contributions and inducements promised by the organization are not delivered as promised. Furthermore, when the contributions and inducements promised by the organization are not delivered in proportion to the service rendered by the volunteer, volunteer reliability will predictably decrease. Thus, it is important to implement a variety of incentives and ensuring the timely and successful delivery of incentives. Equally important to our understanding of volunteer motivation, however, is Bidee (2013) who noted that volunteers who are autonomously motivated require less management and oversight and generally produce better results than volunteers who require continuous motivation, management, and oversight. Thus, the identifying of volunteers who potentially fit this category can greatly aid the mission of the organization and further energize the volunteer base.
So, how do these findings help us shape a plan to motivate our volunteer base? Firstly, we must constantly evaluate and re-evaluate our incentives to volunteers – both tangible and intangible. On the intangible side of incentives, we must constantly re-evaluate our mission and to what degree it is compelling and inherently motivating. However, this will be explored further in the next section. On the tangible side of incentives, we must understand that volunteers are all motivated differently. In recognizing this, we have all volunteers take a self-assessment when they join the organization in order to determine how they express and understand gratitude. These assessments will separate volunteers into five categories and help understand how to express gratitude and appreciation for their efforts in order to keep them motivated during their time with the organization. Similarly, these categories will also determine how we lay out objectives for the volunteers to accomplish. For example, volunteers who fall into the category of “quality time” as an expression of gratitude and appreciation who have objectives which involve spending quality time with individuals in the community while ensuring motivation would also involve organizational leadership spending quality time with the volunteer.
Relating the Organizational Mission
One of the greatest tools for not-for-profit organizations in engaging volunteers in having a relatable and compelling organizational mission. Research has noted several important considerations for us in recruiting and retaining volunteers with our organizational mission and vision. McAllum (2014), for example, concluded that the nature of the agency (that is, the mission of the organization) as well as the relationships they form as volunteers (both within the organization as well as with the surrounding community) greatly shape the engagement and commitment of volunteers. Puyvelde (2013) also concluded that, for those volunteers already serving in not-for-profit organizations, the societal benefits of the organizational mission and vision of the organization as well as satisfaction of those being reached were the greatest motivators for the volunteers. Similarly, Henderson (2019) concluded that the volunteer fire fighters he interviewed in his research genuinely believed in their mission and this belief keeps them both engaged and committed to their departments. Additionally, Henderson (2019) noted that this organizational mission is the greatest factor in keeping these volunteer fire fighters engaged with the organization. Liu (2015) also noted the importance of “emotional brand management” with volunteers and the organizational mission and even noted that successful emotional brand management often contributes to increased organizational orientation and performance.
How can we use this research to help shape a plan to maintain a compelling organizational mission? Firstly, our organizational mission must be tied to a practical problem with data to highlight the problem as well as moving, compelling stories to show how our organization addresses this problem. This is not only a way to effectively communicate our organizational mission utilizing our volunteers, but it also serves as a recruiting tool for new volunteers. Those who are compelled by the organizational mission, and who have been personally impacted by the problems our organization addresses, already possess a degree of autonomous motivation. As stated in the previous section, this helps further motivate and empower our volunteer base.
Managing Volunteer Relationships
Another one of the greatest weapons for the not-for-profit organizations in recruiting and retaining volunteers is the proper management of relationships. While this section of this training manual can be an entirely standalone section, research has also tied the building of volunteer relationships to the organizational mission. McAllum (2014) recommended, for example, that not-for-profit organizations devote more time to intentionally communicating their mission and to utilize that mission and its communication to establish and cultivate relationships with and around their volunteer base. Nesbit (2018) took the importance of building relationships a step further. Nesbit (2018) concluded that organizations should focus on the “nurture” aspect of their organizational culture in order to achieve greater consistency in service delivery. Nesbit (2018) identified the foremost of these nurture aspects as organizational receptivity to new volunteers in order to foster a hospitable, relational climate. These “nurture” aspects are placed in contrast to the “nature” aspects of not-for-profit organizations. These aspects include physical location, resources given to recruitment of new volunteers, and organizational efforts given to retention of existing volunteers.
How can we build upon this research to help facilitate and build volunteer relationships throughout the organization? The most important step is to regularly ensure a hospitable, generous climate for volunteers. Nesbit’s (2018) research highlighted the importance of climate in recruiting and retaining volunteers even more so than intentional and strategic efforts at recruiting and retaining volunteers. The best barometers for estimating organizational climate toward volunteers are our volunteers themselves. Thus, a large part of our plan is to have our own volunteers take an annual climate survey to help us better understand whether or not we are ensuring a hospitable climate for our volunteers. These surveys will include recommendations for improvement from the volunteers. Secondly, we will organize quarterly socials in which intra-volunteer relationships can be facilitated to develop camaraderie and a sense of shared mission and vision. Thirdly, we will use our volunteers in both public and private settings to help communicate our message to the community. Organizational leaders and staff already communicate (and are expected to communicate) the mission and vision of the organization. However, we will utilize our volunteers for this purpose for the express purpose of them building and developing their own relationships with the surrounding community. This will not only empower them to function effectively in their roles, but also to build relationships and recruit additional volunteers.
Volunteers are one of the most important considerations for this organization in carrying out its mission. As the volunteer relations manager, your job is one of the most important in this organization. In acknowledging the important of this role, this manual was established to gu8die the important process and volunteer recruitment and retention. As research develops further, this manual will need to be developed further to ensure that our volunteers can be successful in their mission. When our volunteers are successful, our organization will be successful in carrying out its mission.
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NG, LR, & NCU
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