A member of the Chamber of Commerce Professionals Group on Facebook asked:
Curious to know what other chambers have done for their members/committees to prevent “volunteer burnout” and what has truly worked (beyond giving awards) to keep & recruit a dedicated and consistent volunteer base.
This is a common problem for chambers — the old 10% of the member base does 90% of the volunteering dilemma. You’ll score some points by being appreciative of your volunteers and letting them know it, but just how far does that go?
What else can be done?
Avoid Volunteer Burnout
Watch out for Atlas
There’s no faster path to burn out than to have a few volunteers carrying the weight of the chamber on their shoulders. Keep an eye out for volunteers who are taking it all on by themselves. That weight will soon become burdensome. Help them by assigning an assistant or a co-chair, not just someone who can help them get the work done, but a comrade in arms/sounding board as well.
Be Honest Abe
Be transparent in your expectations and your need when recruiting. Yes, some people may bow out after hearing what you’re looking for, but it’s best for it to happen early than after people are relying on them and someone has to step in to take over their vacancy.
Guard Against the Nothings
Overworking your volunteers is as deadly as not having anything for them to do. Make sure you have someone who can take the time to coordinate their efforts and keep them busy. If you don’t, you can be sure your volunteers will leave just as quickly as those who are buried in work.
Get Personally Invested
Take the time to get to know your volunteers and make sure they’re doing things that make them feel appreciated and needed. They should also be well-suited for their tasks. Use their talents in their volunteer work. When you ask a volunteer to do something because you noticed how good they are at that skill, they’ll be thrilled you thought of them.
When you give a compliment make it targeted and personal. Saying thanks for your help is nice but saying, “Your blog post got some of our heaviest traffic we’ve seen. You are an amazing writer.” will be something that sticks with that volunteer for a long time.
Personalizing job duties and compliments will go a long way to keeping your volunteers invested and active.
Guest post by Christina Green
Image credit: Norma Davey