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Tag: Volunteers

O.9.3 Volunteer Recognition

O.9.3 Volunteer Recognition

Action

Established or strengthen volunteer recognition program(s).

Why

Volunteers offer their time and talents to an organization for many different reasons.  In most cases it is because they want to give back to their community.  Also, in most cases, they’re not looking for any type of public recognition but rather they derive their satisfaction in knowing that they contributed and made a difference.

In other cases, companies, businesses, and organizations commit volunteer support from their staff and employees as a way of supporting their community. 

In any event, it is important to recognize all volunteers for their efforts.

How

Volunteers should be recognized at least annually.  This can be done in a published annual report or with an annual volunteer recognition event.  In some cases, an annual Board meeting can be the mechanism to also recognize volunteers.  Board members themselves are volunteers as well but should also be aware of others who have made an impact to the organization throughout the year.

Resources

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O.9.2.1 Volunteer Individual Representation

O.9.2.1 Volunteer Individual Representation

Action

Improve the diversity of volunteers.

Why

Efforts to manage and revitalize downtown and main street district are done with a look towards the future and those that would utilize, live, work and enjoy it.  Thus, the volunteers that help the cause should be reflective of the community and would certainly have a desire to see their neighborhood and area of focus improved for future generations to experience.  As ambassadors for the organization, they can help shape the plans and direction.

How

The Board of Directors along with organizational staff should employ a recruiting process that includes inviting volunteers that are reflective of the community at large.

Resources

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O.9.1 Volunteer Structure and Engagement

O.9.1 Volunteer Structure and Engagement

Action

Establish an ongoing volunteer program.

Why

Volunteers are often the life blood of an organization.  Without them, it is very difficult to accomplish strategic goals, carry out work plans and manage successful events. In many cases, volunteers represent the face of the organization.  Therefore, the recruiting and onboarding process is significant and needs to be thoroughly managed.

How

Look to recruit volunteers whose interests and affinity aligns with the organization.  A good volunteer program should clearly outline needed tasks, responsibilities, and action items.  In addition, it is important to have a thorough onboarding process to ensure a checks and balances for volunteer tasks, organizational goals, and chain of command. 

Resources

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O.9.3.1 Volunteer Constituency Representation

O.9.3.1 Volunteer Constituency Representation

Action

Develop a roster of volunteers that is made up of individuals who represent different constituencies within your downtown district and the community at large.

Why

When assembling a team of ready, willing, and able volunteers to help with carrying out projects and programs for the organization, the goal should be to encourage a diversity of constituent expertise that is represented in the community.  All professional disciplines should be explored.

How

The goal should be to pair project goals to levels of expertise that volunteers can bring to the organization.  Once a list of determined goals and related work plans have been established, volunteer support according to specific constituent disciplines can be determined and assigned.

Resources

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CMSC Webinar: Building Your Volunteer Program

CMSC Webinar

Building Your Volunteer Program:
Feeding the HUMAN Machine & Building the HUMAN Capacity

Webinar Summary

In order to drive a community forward, each organization must foster, maintain, and perfect the available human capacity within each community. In this webinar, we dive into strategies for creating a comprehensive volunteer matrix, how to maximize efforts for volunteers, and how appropriate positive (or sometimes negative) feedback should be delivered. Topics include how to create a comprehensive volunteer list, how to partner volunteers together, and where and how to utilize critical volunteers. This webinar is also applicable to those who have volunteer boards and commissions.

Presentation Highlights


  • The Human Machine

    • A community functions like a watch – all the cogs need to work together in the right sequence. The downtown is run by people.
    • People need the ability to help, as well as the drive and desire to do it. This human capacity is the driving force behind any volunteer organization, whether it’s a Masonic Lodge, city council or downtown organization.
    • It also helps set the expectations for volunteers, what they can give, and what they can expect to get back from their service. Everyone needs to know their role, which will also help you leverage their talents and skills and avoid burnout.
  • 6 Types of Human Capacity

    • As a Main Street manager, it’s not your job to do every project. It’s your job to empower people to help you implement the projects. You’re here to guide and provide resources, not do every job that comes up. The process isn’t linear, its cyclical and ongoing and has 6 components:
      1. Community Assessment
      2. Identifying Abilities
      3. Planning Roles
      4. Building a strong “house”
      5. Empowerment through partnership
      6. Implementing projects
  • Working with your Community as a Machine

    • Outlining a 2-way relationship is critical. What is the volunteer getting out of it?
    • When you do the Community Assessment, it’s like an audit where you can identify skills gaps. This is a great task for someone joining your Organization board or committee. It helps them understand how you work, while offering a fresh pair of eyes on the data.
    • When identifying abilities, you may need to have tough discussions with people because you may not need the skills they’re offering. Also look at when your volunteers are available. Do they have kids in school and so are not available at night? Do they work during the day and are only available on the weekend?
    • Many people want to do something different than their day job. You need to help them figure out their role, as well as who to hand off things to. You’re aiming to have seamless transitions between them.
    • Build a matrix of skills, availability, etc. Then you can pair people up, creating little “families” of volunteers.

    Working With Your Community As A Machine

    • Main Street needs to empower through leadership, not by doing everything on their own. Build capacity through responsibility and let people know where they fit into the overall process.
    • When you implement the project, this is the time to give positive and constructive criticism. It’s also a time to re-evaluate your volunteer to see if anything’s changed.
  • Strategies for Improving the Machine

    • Create a social network map – Take your 20 core volunteers and map all the different groups in your community – everything from the PTA to the local bank.
    • What demographics are represented? Which are missing? What do they love to do and what are they good at? What’s motivating them to volunteer and to be part of the community? Remember, sometimes what people are good at is not what they’re looking to do when they’re volunteering.
    • Do an assessment to determine your volunteers’ strengths and weaknesses. Are they introverts or extroverts?
      • Can categorize people by Seer, Feeler, Thinker & Doers
        • Seer – learn or share by showing
        • Feelers – Likes to do something over and over
        • Thinkers – Likes data and putting things on paper
        • Doers – Do whatever needs to be done
      • Create a comprehensive volunteer list. Can be as short as 10 questions asking:
        • What they prefer
        • When they’re available (day, evening)
        • How they would like to volunteer
        • Where they’re comfortable
        • Can then sort the list and use it to ask for targeted help.
      • 2 Way benefit – to the volunteer and to the Main Street organization
        • Benefits to the Volunteer
          • Personal connections
          • Strengthened and vibrant downtown
          • Sense of accomplishment and belonging
          • Vested in the overall community’s health
        • Benefits to the Main Street program
          • Improved amounts of volunteers and participants
          • Vested residents or business owners
          • Increased networking and economic draw
        • These relationships don’t just start on day 1, they need to be cultivated. The Main Street director or manager usually needs to be the first to take the initial step.
        • You need to give continuous and personalized feedback and praise.
        • Conduct anonymous assessments to get feedback from the public.

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About Ben Levenger, AICP

Ben Levenger is an AICP planner, registered landscape architect, and Certified Economic Developer. He is the president of Downtown Redevelopment Services, LLC, a planning firm specializing in assisting communities through comprehensive downtown planning. He has worked in over 30 states and consults for federal agencies on economic development best practices.

Contact

Ben Levenger, AICP

Email: Ben@dtredevelopment.com

Cell: 330-212-2260 

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