As part of my New Insights from a New CAE weekly column on SmartBlog Insights, I’m delving deeper into my New Volunteer Manifesto that I published here. In Part 5 published last Thursday, I looked at New Ways of Associating.

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The New Volunteer Manifesto: New Ways of Associating

Deirdre Reid, CAE is an association consultant, speaker and trainer focusing on member engagement and social media at Deirdre Reid LLC and Leadership Outfitters. Connect with her @DeirdreReid.

I recently published a call to action for associations, a New Volunteer Manifesto. Last week I explored creating a learning culture for volunteer. Now I’d like to propose some new ways of associating.

Nurture social networks that connect members with one another and with your association. Don’t assume that if you build a private network that they will come. Find out where your members are hanging out – possibly Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter – and build your community there.

Give members the encouragement and tools to self-organize informal member meet-ups. Don’t be threatened if members use your online networks to publicize these meet-ups. Encourage and help them. Be the connecting thread.

Make it easy for members to organize working groups to explore new ideas and projects. Don’t perpetuate barriers that rein in their creativity and desire to experiment and be innovative.

Give younger members the means to contribute their talents and their voice. Younger generations are not as willing as Boomers were to ‘pay their dues’ and watch and wait while others contribute to their association.

Make it easy for all members to give feedback. Consider a feedback area on your web site or an online forum. Allow your members to have a voice and a place to contribute their ideas.

Control is a touchy subject. You really have never had it, as much as you would like to think you did. This is the member’s organization, not just the board’s, definitely not the staff’s, no matter how invested we are. As long as members stay on message politically, don’t be threatened at their attempts to create what works for them.

Transparency and openness are now more important than ever. Many members want to know what’s going on behind the scenes, what decisions are being made, and what their association and leaders are doing. Make it easy for a member to figure all this out by sharing this information on your web site.

Don’t be afraid to take a risk and maybe even fail. Your fear of regret should loom larger than your fear of failure. Be receptive to new ideas. We are entering new territory – members no longer need us as their source of knowledge, news and networking. We must find ways to remain a meaningful and valuable part of their lives.

Keep a spirit of entrepreneurial innovation alive in your leadership.

What do you think about these ideas? Have you tried any?

The New Volunteer Manifesto: New Ways of Associating

Deirdre Reid, CAE is an association consultant, speaker and trainer focusing on member engagement and social media at Deirdre Reid LLC and Leadership Outfitters. Connect with her @DeirdreReid.

I recently published a call to action for associations, a New Volunteer Manifesto. Last week I explored creating a learning culture for volunteer. Now I’d like to propose some new ways of associating.

Nurture social networks that connect members with one another and with your association. Don’t assume that if you build a private network that they will come. Find out where your members are hanging out – possibly Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter – and build your community there.

Give members the encouragement and tools to self-organize informal member meet-ups. Don’t be threatened if members use your online networks to publicize these meet-ups. Encourage and help them. Be the connecting thread.

Make it easy for members to organize working groups to explore new ideas and projects. Don’t perpetuate barriers that rein in their creativity and desire to experiment and be innovative.

Give younger members the means to contribute their talents and their voice. Younger generations are not as willing as Boomers were to ‘pay their dues’ and watch and wait while others contribute to their association.

Make it easy for all members to give feedback. Consider a feedback area on your web site or an online forum. Allow your members to have a voice and a place to contribute their ideas.

Control is a touchy subject. You really have never had it, as much as you would like to think you did. This is the member’s organization, not just the board’s, definitely not the staff’s, no matter how invested we are. As long as members stay on message politically, don’t be threatened at their attempts to create what works for them.

Transparency and openness are now more important than ever. Many members want to know what’s going on behind the scenes, what decisions are being made, and what their association and leaders are doing. Make it easy for a member to figure all this out by sharing this information on your web site.

Don’t be afraid to take a risk and maybe even fail. Your fear of regret should loom larger than your fear of failure. Be receptive to new ideas. We are entering new territory – members no longer need us as their source of knowledge, news and networking. We must find ways to remain a meaningful and valuable part of their lives.

Keep a spirit of entrepreneurial innovation alive in your leadership.

What do you think about these ideas? Have you tried any?

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As part of my New Insights from a New CAE weekly column on SmartBlog Insights, I’m delving deeper into my New Volunteer Manifesto that I published here. In Part 4 published last Thursday, I looked at Creating a Learning Culture.

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The New Volunteer Manifesto: Creating a Learning Culture

Deirdre Reid, CAE is an association consultant, speaker and trainer focusing on member engagement and social media at Deirdre Reid LLC and Leadership Outfitters. Connect with her @DeirdreReid.

I recently published a call to action for associations, a New Volunteer Manifesto. Last week I explored keeping volunteers. Now I’d like to propose some ideas for creating a learning culture.

Create a culture of learning, not only through your educational programs, but within your leadership and committees. Commit to enriching the volunteer experience by providing opportunities to learn and grow through service.

We’re the organizational experts. It’s our job to share our professional knowledge with our members and give them the information and tools to lead the association wisely, take some risks and try new things. They may not have brought these skills with them and need our support.

Deepen the reach of leadership development programs. Don’t limit training to officers and directors; include any member who leads a committee, team or project. Set aside competition and control issues and partner with other organizations so you can offer more programs to your members.

Give volunteers something to take back to the office. Teach leaders to build learning moments into committee agendas. Take ten minutes to provide quick lessons on social media, networking, speaking, leadership, etc. Give your members the opportunity to share their skills with others during these learning experiences.

Conduct ongoing training for leaders on how to recruit volunteers, break up and delegate tasks, make meetings meaningful and enjoyable, and work in new ways that involve more people.

Encourage leaders to train other members to do the work they’re now doing. Encourage them to find others to help them accomplish tasks and share the work. The association will never run out work to accomplish; there’s enough for anyone who wishes to participate.

Members in the early phase of their career will have very different needs than those more experienced. Take that into account when planning programs, events and volunteer opportunities.

Recognize and reward those leaders who have led well by delegating and involving others. Make them the models for other leaders to emulate.

What do you think about these ideas? Have you tried any?

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Today my fifth and last post in the series, New Ways of Associating, was published on SmartBlog Insights.

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As part of my New Insights from a New CAE weekly column on SmartBlog Insights, I’m delving deeper into my New Volunteer Manifesto that I published here. In Part 3 published last Thursday, I looked at Keeping Volunteers.

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The New Volunteer Manifesto: Keeping Volunteers

Deirdre Reid, CAE is an association consultant, speaker and trainer focusing on member engagement and social media at Deirdre Reid LLC and Leadership Outfitters. Connect with her @DeirdreReid.

I recently published a call to action for associations, a New Volunteer Manifesto. Last week I explored recruiting volunteers. Now I’d like to propose some ideas for keeping volunteers.

Always remember that volunteering is a benefit of membership. Talk to any involved member and you’ll soon see how true this is. Make it easy for your members to find ways to get involved. Break down any perceived barriers, particularly the lack of information about volunteer and leadership opportunities and committee meetings.

Make the connection publicly (and frequently) between what volunteers do and the success of your association. Volunteers want to help your association achieve its goals and know that their efforts make a difference.

Make it part of your culture that projects and committee work are broken down into smaller tasks that volunteers can take on. Tell your chairs to look outside your committee members for help. Share the benefit of volunteering.

Chairs must learn to share the benefits of leadership — delegate delegate delegate. Train others to do your job. Make sure everyone can benefit from volunteering.

Make meetings matter. Use a consent agenda. Start and end on time. Don’t ever meet because you are supposed to; meet because you have lots to accomplish face-to-face that can’t be accomplished effectively in any other way.

Build in time during meetings for strategic thinking and discussion. Take advantage of their brains – see what they come up with. Encourage their investment in the association’s mission.

Aim to be the highlight of someone’s day — make meetings enjoyable. Give members the opportunity to not only get work done, but to do it in a way that makes them want to come back for the next meeting. Consider building some “getting to know you” time into meeting agendas. Members get involved to develop relationships, make that easier for them.

Encourage committees to explore new ways of meeting and working. Switch up a meeting location from the association conference room to perhaps a café. Brainstorm other location ideas. Consider short conference calls or, for a more personal touch, online video chat (check out tinychat.com) if scheduling or travel is difficult.

Teach members to use online collaboration tools like wikis or LinkedIn’s Huddle application to get input on projects and task assignments. Tools like these work well for sharing the status of projects, posting to-do lists and assignments, and allowing volunteers to edit and contribute their input.

Personally thank every volunteer who helps in even the tiniest way. They are not paid to do this; they pay to do this. Recognize their contribution and constantly be grateful.

Be a transformational organization. Everyone wants the opportunity to give, learn and grow – to transform into a better version of themselves. Volunteering at your association can be a way to do that, and for many of them, it may be their only way. Remember how important it is to provide those opportunities — the benefits of volunteering.

What do you think about these ideas? Have you tried any?

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Today my fourth post in the series, Creating a Learning Culture, was published on SmartBlog Insights.

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As part of my New Insights from a New CAE weekly column on SmartBlog Insights, I’m delving deeper into my New Volunteer Manifesto that I published here. In Part 2 published last Thursday, I looked at Finding Volunteers.

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The New Volunteer Manifesto: Finding Volunteers

Deirdre Reid, CAE is an association consultant, speaker and trainer focusing on member engagement and social media at Deirdre Reid LLC and Leadership Outfitters. Connect with her @DeirdreReid.

I recently published a call to action for associations, a New Volunteer Manifesto. Last week I explored the big picture. Now I’d like to propose some ideas for volunteer recruitment.

Survey all your members at least once a year to find out their professional development needs, leadership experience, interests, talents and number of hours they can volunteer per month (or quarter) so you can match them to the best volunteer opportunities for them. Keep this inventory readily available. Plan on getting updates because members’ needs and interests will change. Ideally, volunteers will call or visit members to get this information (a retention “touch”), but at least include the survey in welcome letters, renewal invoices and mailings. Follow up by phone with non-responders.

Committee involvement may be too demanding for personal schedules. Encourage ad hoc or episodic volunteering — an hour or so here and there. You need a variety of options that are still meaningful and do not require long-term commitments. Spend some time creating a list of these opportunities.

Publicize all volunteer opportunities on your website, particularly those requiring a minimal time commitment. Communicate in new ways: feature a few at meetings in an automated PowerPoint presentation; post on event table tents; announce ad-hoc opportunities via opt-in mobile texting; feature a few in each e-newsletter and on your home page, Facebook page, LinkedIn group or Twitter stream.

Keep in touch with volunteers who may step out of their roles temporarily due to other commitments. Let them know they are missed and will be welcomed back in any capacity.

Your leaders and staff must be able to answer the question, “what’s in it for me?” Don’t so much sell volunteering, as listen to what members need (that’s where the inventory comes in handy) and provide them solutions (volunteer opportunities) to help them grow, learn, meet others, etc.

Consider this:

“The primary difference between volunteers and non-volunteers, when measuring what they do with their time, is the amount of television they watch. People who do not volunteer watch hundreds of hours of additional TV a year compared to people who do volunteer. It’s not that people don’t have enough time to volunteer. People do not volunteer because nonprofits do not provide them with volunteer opportunities that interest them enough to pull them away from their television sets.” (Stanford Social Innovation Review, Winter 2009, The New Volunteer Workforce)

Are your volunteer opportunities meaningful and valuable enough to pull your members away from Jack Bauer?

Make it easy for those who are looking into involvement. Publicize committee meeting times, locations and agendas on your website. Publicly encourage members to attend a meeting if they’re interested. Take the mystery out of it.

The personal ask is the most effective way to recruit a volunteer, not a passive call for volunteers. When a member is asked to help, be ready with a few options, so they can choose the one that’s best for them.

Cultivate evangelical leaders and volunteers, those with social capital, who will personally ask others to get involved, and who can testify about the benefits of their volunteer service.

What do you think about these ideas? Have you tried any of them?

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Yesterday my post on Keeping Volunteers was published. Check out SmartBlog Insights!

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As part of my New Insights from a New CAE weekly column on SmartBlog Insights, I’m delving deeper into my New Volunteer Manifesto that I published here. In Part 1 published last week, I looked at The Big Picture.

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The New Volunteer Manifesto: The Big Picture

Deirdre Reid, CAE is an association consultant, speaker and trainer focusing on member engagement and social media at Deirdre Reid LLC and Leadership Outfitters. Connect with her @DeirdreReid.

I recently published a call to action for associations, a New Volunteer Manifesto. Now with your input, I’d like to dig a little deeper into that. First, here are my ideas on the big picture.

View all members as strategic assets whose talents can be shared with the association. Focus on developing ways for them to contribute their talents.

Invest in the infrastructure necessary to effectively recruit, develop, place, recognize and retain volunteer talent. You might have to admit that your current systems aren’t working as well as you’d like. What percentage of your membership is volunteering now? Your association is a community of talents — more work is accomplished with more hands on deck and more members invested in the goals of the association.

Slay your sacred cows! Can we get that on a t-shirt? Get rid of committees, programs or pet projects that aren’t moving your association toward achieving its goals. Establish sunset reviews every two or three years.

Beware the leadership bubble! Put that on a t-shirt too. Leadership can develop an insular perspective and won’t always see what members really need and value. Their view could be colored by their association service, their age or career stage. Make sure you have multiple perspectives participating in decisions that affect your membership and the future of your association.

Find new jobs for your deadwood leaders. If they’re not open to innovation and new perspectives, ease them out. Their fear of regret (for not taking a risk) should outweigh their fear of failure. If anyone says, “that’s the way we’ve always done it,” be very scared. Or, “if it’s not broken, why fix it.” Is mediocrity good enough for them? Will they even know if something is broken? If a leader isn’t concerned with the future needs of the association, or isn’t interested in growing as a leader, bid them adieu. This isn’t about a title; this is about leadership and vision.

Align committee work with association goals. Are your committees charged with goals to achieve? Are they accountable? Do they have the autonomy to choose how best to achieve those goals, or are their strategies and tactics imposed from above? Do they report back on progress made? Your committees must do meaningful work in meaningful ways to avoid stagnation.

Make all your leaders accessible to each other. Is there regular communication amongst your leadership – board members, committee chairs, and other formal and informal group leaders? Are they really a team, all of them? Are they in a position to help each other? Learn together?

Choose the right chairs. Make sure the members who are leading your association, not only the board, but also committee chairs, have the right motivations to be there. They’re not in it for the ego or title. They want to help the association achieve its goals and bring along others to help them do it. They’re enthusiastic about sharing the benefits of leading and volunteering. They have social capital — they can recruit others to get involved. They’re forward-thinking and receptive to new ideas and perspectives.

Appoint a Community officer as part of your leadership team, perhaps your incoming president, whose main responsibility is to develop and retain a huge corps of volunteers. Just as you need to focus on your budget and reserve to ensure the financial health of your association, so too do you need to focus on your volunteer corps and reserves.

What do you think about these ideas? Have you tried any of them?

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Thursday in Part 2 I’ll discuss Finding Volunteers. Stay tuned to SmartBlog Insights!

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I recently did a presentation on working with committees and sections at the American Bar Association’s Bar Leadership Institute (BLI) in Chicago. BLI is held annually for incoming bar association presidents and their executive directors. I was hired to bring in an outsider and more forward-thinking perspective — that’s always fun! Some of their bar associations have problems with stagnant committees and renegade sections so I addressed those issues in addition to recruiting and working with chairs and volunteers.

I posted my presentation and some notes in PDF format to Slideshare. I was also on a social media panel but we didn’t have slides for that one, just lots of questions. It was standing room only — definitely proof of a desire to figure out how to take advantage of all that social media offers to an association.

The Cluetrain Manifesto, published in 1999, was a call to action for businesses to reckon with a new marketplace influenced by the Internet and Web 2.0. In 2010, we need a new call to action, a New Volunteer Manifesto, for associations. I’ll be diving deeper into this manifesto for the  21st century volunteer in my upcoming weekly guest column, New Insights from a New CAE, on SmartBlog Insights. I hope that you will join me there to wrestle with new perspectives on volunteering and associating.

The Big Picture

Members are strategic assets whose talents can be shared with the association. Invest in the infrastructure necessary to effectively recruit, develop, place, recognize and retain volunteer talent.

Beware the leadership bubble. Leadership can often develop an insular perspective and won’t always see what members really need and value. Cultivate multiple perspectives in your leadership.

Slay sacred cows. Get rid of committees, programs or pet projects that aren’t moving your association toward achieving its goals.

Find new jobs for your deadwood leaders. If they’re not open to innovation and new perspectives, ease them out.

Choose the right chairs. They must be leaders, managers, influencers and recruiters who are willing to share the benefit of leadership, and are forward thinking and receptive to new ideas and perspectives.

Appoint a community officer, perhaps your incoming president, as part of your leadership team whose main responsibility is to develop and retain a huge corps of volunteers.

Don’t just be an association for Boomers. Learn how to be an association for younger generations too. Be willing to experiment and change because you will have to.

Finding Volunteers

Survey all members (new and current) at least once a year to find out their professional development needs, leadership experience, interests, talents and the number of hours they can give to the association per month (or quarter) so you can match them to volunteer opportunities.

Publicize all volunteer opportunities, particularly those requiring a minimal time commitment. Get creative — project them at meetings, include in correspondence, feature a few in each e-newsletter and on your web site, Facebook page, LinkedIn group or Twitter stream.

Demonstrate the value of volunteering. Answer the question, “what’s in it for me?”

Regularly make an obvious connection between what volunteers do and the success of the association’s mission.

Committee involvement may be too demanding for personal schedules. Encourage ad hoc or episodic volunteering — an hour or less here and there.

Cultivate evangelical leaders and volunteers, those with social capital, who will personally ask others to get involved.

Keeping Volunteers

Volunteering is a benefit of membership. Make it easy for your members to find ways to get involved. Eliminate perceived barriers. Open up your committee meetings.

Break down projects and committee work into smaller tasks that volunteers can take on. Tell your chairs to look outside your committee members for help with these. Share the benefit of volunteering.

Chairs must always share the benefit of leadership — delegate delegate delegate. Train many others to do your job.

Make meetings matter. Use a consent agenda. Build in time for strategic thinking and discussion. Don’t waste time on minutia that can be handled offline.

Make meetings enjoyable. Aim to be the highlight of someone’s day.

Encourage committees to explore new ways of meeting and working – new venues, online collaboration.

Thank every volunteer who helps in even the tiniest way.

Learning Culture

Create a culture of learning, not only through your educational programs, but also within your leadership and your committees.

Deepen the reach of your leadership development programs. Include any member who leads up a team or project. Partner with other organizations to offer more programs.

Teach your leaders to build learning moments into committee agendas. Conduct ongoing training for leaders on how to recruit and work with volunteers.

Recognize those leaders who have led well by delegating and involving others.

New Ways of Associating

Build social networks that connect members with one another and with your association.

Give members the encouragement and tools to self-organize informal member meet-ups.

Make it easy for members to organize working groups to explore new ideas and projects.

Give younger members the means to contribute their talents and their voice.

Keep a spirit of entrepreneurial innovation alive in your leadership.

This Manifesto is my work in progress. I hope you’ll join me in sharing it with our colleagues in the association world. Let’s help our associations truly be 21st century associations.

Update: I expanded on this post in a series that I wrote for SmartBlog Insights. You can find those posts here as well — Part 1: The Big Picture, Part 2: Finding Volunteers, Part 3: Keeping Volunteers, Part 4: Creating a Learning Culture and Part 5: New Ways of Associating.

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