Perfect Match: What Savvy Professional Volunteers Want
1 September 2010 at 2:36 pm
The benefits of volunteering professional skills are significant for both the volunteer and the community organisation when managed successfully, according to an Australian coaching expert.
Corrinne Armour, who runs a program providing corporate sector leaders with the tools to volunteer their professional skills to the community sector, says most Not for Profits think people want to volunteer their professional skills for a cause they are passionate about, and many do!
Armour says the typical advice given to professionals considering pro-bono activity is "find something closely aligned with your passion that inspires you”.
However, she says, experience from assisting corporate sector leaders who want to volunteer suggests that there are other considerations which are just as important.
Amour says there are several other factors that savvy volunteers consider in choosing where to volunteer their professional skills.
She says 'Organisational Readiness' is perhaps the most important factor a professional volunteer will evaluate in deciding whether an organisation is ready to receive them and capitalise on the skills they offer.
Potential volunteers will look at:
- How well defined is the assignment with clear objectives, timeframe and deliverables?
- What priority does the assignment have?
- Who will champion it within the organisation?
- What support is available?
- How does this assignment build on the organisation’s mission, vision, strategy and current program?
As well, Armour points to 'Organisational Health' saying a savvy professional volunteer will make a judgment on the “health” of an organisation. Some critical elements of organisational performance that may be under scrutiny, including:
- Clear and consistent organisational messages
- A good program which advances the mission
- The role, skills and profile of the Executive Director
- Governance function
- Financial health, funding sources and financial management systems
- Human resource policy and practices, including the approach to volunteering
Armour says a conclusion of “unhealthy” doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t work with the organisation. They may decide it needs their help even more.
She says what’s important is that the potential volunteers are making an informed choice.
As well, she says the sources of information consulted to assess an organisation include information in the public domain such as a website, annual reports, marketing material and donor communications. Potential volunteers may also consult friends, colleagues, your directors, contacts within the organisation or others working in that field.
Armour says the WIFFM Factor or What’s in it for me factor is something harder to determine as each volunteer is seeking something different.
She says if you assume a person wishing to engage in pro-bono work wants to make a contribution to society a range of other considerations might be motivating their desire to volunteer their professional skills and influence their choice of where to do this including: professional fulfilment, or new challenges and learning, excess time to fill or perhaps making an impact on an issue which has some currency in our community is important.
The level of scrutiny a professional will pay to these factors will depend on the size of an organisation, the extent of the initial commitment they are making and their personal decision-making profile.
Amour says Not for Profit organisations should think about the last time they had the opportunity to resource a project with a professional volunteer, or fill a board placement and how well did they cater to these factors and what can be done next time to attract the right person and ensure a perfect match?
For more information go to http://www.extraordinaryfuture.com.au.