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BOARDS AND COMMITTEES:
They are volunteers, too!
Look here for infomation and the latest techniques to develop your board or committee. The purpose is to help those who work or serve on nonprofit boards of directors or committees.
~ February 2003 ~ Topic

Helping Boards Understand the Importance of Volunteer Management

A good colleague and friend asked me, "How do you get boards to understand the importance of volunteer management?"

A board that doesn't understand the importance of volunteer management usually doesn't grasp the reality that volunteers need to be supported and managed just as paid staff are supported and managed. It hasn’t occurred to them that there may be more volunteer personnel in the organization than there is paid staff and that volunteer management is integral to making the most out of volunteer time and talents.

Boards need to be reminded frequently about the importance of the volunteer program and the impact that good volunteer management can have on the fulfillment of the organization’s mission. Ideally the executive director and president should work to build this understanding. However, they may need to be nudged by the director of volunteers or a board member who is an advocate for volunteerism. Board members, after all, are volunteers too; and there is frequently an advocate for volunteerism among the board members. This is usually a person who has been a super volunteer.

To build understanding, I suggest:

  • Having a volunteer advisory board that has at least one member who is a board member who will report back to the board about volunteer accomplishments
  • Having a report from a dedicated and successful volunteer at a minimum of one board meeting a quarter
  • Including in board job descriptions the importance of attending volunteer recognition events
  • Giving board members a monthly report on the numbers of volunteers involved, an in-kind estimate of the dollar value of their contribution, and, most important, some specifics on volunteer accomplishments during that month (numbers of clients visited; success stories; etc.)
  • Planning field trips for board members where they can observe first hand the work the volunteers are doing

Board members are responsible for exercising judgment in overseeing the organization’s affairs. The board raises money and must spend it responsibly. It also must respect all of its resources, volunteer time and paid staff time, and make sure they are managed responsibly.


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Jeanne H. Bradner

Jeanne H. Bradner is an author, consultant, trainer and speaker on volunteerism, board development and leadership. She is the author of three publications, Passionate Volunteerism, The Board Member's Guide, A Beneficial Bestiary and Leading Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today. She served as director of the Illinois Governor's Office of Voluntary Action, Midwest Regional Director of ACTION, and Executive Director of the Illinois Commission on Community Service. She is the volunteer program specialist for Illinois' Harper College Volunteer Management curriculum. 

Send your comments and questions to Jeannebrad@aol.com



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