Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Pay Them With Meaning

I've been thinking a lot about board composition and volunteer fatigue these days.   I confess to wondering if it is time to pay volunteers so that they can be held accountable.  How many times have you had to look past dropped balls because those in charge are volunteers?  As is always the case within non-profit orgs this then leads to..."show me the money" and there's precious little to show.  So how, then, do we attract the best and brightest to service?  and how do we incentivize those already serving to show up and do what they signed on to do?    Susan Ellis of Energize Magazine proposes that we pay our volunteers with "meaning".   Just let that sink in for a minute.   MEANING.   Goals reached, activities completed...  a feeling of contribution.   This is catnip for those volunteers wanting to make the most of the time they donate and for those who want to make a difference.  It is, however, a tall order for some organizations though.  For orgs to compensate volunteers with meaning they'd have to trust them to create, to innovate and to try new and adventurous things AND they'd have to put in place all the supports that allow that volunteer the space and accountibility to come through.   There would need to be a culture of completion.   hmmm.   Think about the places where you donate your leadership time.   Is there a dominant culture of completion?   I've had the pleasure of serving some organizations where that was the case and it was a joyful and fulfilling experience that definitely spoiled me into looking to find that everywhere I served.    Turns out it is a rare thing indeed.   So as you walk through your day and encounter those who are volunteering, look a little deeper into their action.  See if you can find the "meaning" that keeps them there and then look to see how it was afforded them.    

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