Based the an average wage in Canada and the number of volunteer hours, volunteerism generates about $50 billion in annual economic value. Not bad for a country with a population less than the state of California and it’s a prime reason clubs survive. Even the richest clubs need volunteers if only for their Boards. For clubs of more modest means, volunteers keep the club running and membership dues reasonable — most need them to exist.
Is volunteerism working in your club? When your President or a committee chair calls for volunteers, do hands go up, signifying a willingness to help, or do heads turn away? Are your Board and Committee positions all filled or are there vacancies for lack of volunteers? Are new club initiatives dropped because help is not available for their successful implementation?
For this discussion, let’s first identify four types of volunteer members in a typical club.
Type One members are those who don’t volunteer… ever. Once this attitude is recognized in a club member, it’s probably a waste of time trying to figure out why they don’t. (In a club with limited volunteerism, this group can include past volunteers who are suffering from burnout and who have just had enough of giving.) Accept the fact that the only contribution the club will receive from Type Ones is their membership dues.
Type Two members are those who occasionally volunteer (sometimes reluctantly but out of a sense of duty or other motivation). Circumstances may have changed for some, such as declining health or a desire to pursue additional interests. Others may feel they volunteered plenty in the past and it’s time to slow down. For whatever the reasons, this type’s volunteer work is limited.
Type Three members are those who are willing to regularly help out. They put in time in a variety of tasks such as working in the kitchen or helping clean the premises or working outside or putting up posters or manning a booth, etc. Type Threes are often recruited on an ad hoc basis as the need arises. Some Type Threes will work on committees providing the tasks and responsibilities are ones with which they are comfortable and not likely to generate complications or become too time consuming. Type Threes’ orientation is typically as helpers.
Type Four members are those who are willing to volunteer for more time-consuming and labour-intensive jobs. Those with strong leadership qualities, the ability to work with others and organizational skills are candidates for Board responsibilities. Those with specialized skills in marketing, accounting, the building trades, computers, etc., can take on lead roles and responsibilities on Committees. Extreme Type Fours work for their clubs on an ongoing basis, putting in hours of time almost daily when the club is busy. Because they carry such heavy loads, Type Fours are the most susceptible to burn-out and dropping to a Type One or even quitting the club.
What about your club? Is your mix of these Types such that volunteerism is not a problem? Or could things be better? If it’s the latter, the question is, “Is there a strategy that will improve volunteerism in your club?”