Friday, January 25, 2013
All Volunteers Must Be Paid
Isn't that an oxymoron... like "jumbo shrimp" or "honest politician" or "Microsoft Works"?
The fact is that all volunteers must be "paid"—make no mistake about that. However, volunteers are not usually paid with money (hence the name "volunteer"). Volunteers ARE "paid" with a different—but very real—kind of capital. I think of it as emotional capital. And those who don't understand that volunteers need to be paid in emotional capital will soon find themselves lacking volunteers.
It's a fact: If volunteers don't get as much—or more—out of their volunteering than they put into it—they will go where they will get a better ROI (return on investment).
Sometimes this emotional capital can be connected to something tangible they receive as an act of appreciation for their service. But note well that—from the volunteer's perspective—the real value of any tangible expressions of thanks has very little to do with the token of appreciation itself. What really matters is the emotional capital they feel. That is, giving a volunteer a token of appreciation creates emotional capital ONLY if you really care for and appreciate the volunteer ALL YEAR LONG. Otherwise, it feels fake and empty—like being indifferent to your mother all year long, but then giving her a nice gift and kind words on Mother's Day. That just doesn't fly with most mothers—or volunteers!
If all this is true, then we must consider the various ways we can "pay" a volunteer well.
For 20 ways to "pay" a volunteer—and a whole lot more—go here.
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