Monday, September 19, 2011

Core Strategy #8: Deploy Targeted Volunteer Engagement Strategies

In previous posts, I listed 10 key strategies that need consideration in the strategic plans of nonprofit organizations. The first strategy is “Embed capacity building into the fabric of your nonprofit". The second strategy is to "Build an exceptional board". The third --to engage in accelerated strategic thinking and planning. The fourth strategy is to "Forge partnerships, alliances and mergers to increase mission impact and sustainability". The fifth strategy is to "Develop board and staff succession plans". The sixth strategy is to "Build capacity for effective public policy and advocacy". The seventh strategy is to "Master use of social media".

The eighth strategy is to deploy targeted volunteer engagement strategies.

One of the most important opportunities for nonprofits today is the potential impact of baby boomers as they now begin to retire. A lot is being written about what boomers will be doing with their volunteer time and their charitable dollars. Also, for a number of reasons, many boomers will put off retirement to continue working in their current jobs or in new part-time positions. Several studies suggest that many boomers, when they think of employment "after retirement", express a preference for work in the nonprofit sector.

All of this represents great news for nonprofit organizations. The problem is that many nonprofits are not thinking about how to capitalize on this phenomenon. They have no coherent strategy for volunteer engagement. This trend and its implications are so important that a strategic plan that doesn’t include concrete strategies to tap into Boomer charitable giving, volunteering and professional workplace skills and knowledge, is deficient in a serious way.

In my work with nonprofits, more and more organizations are looking for ways to maximize their engagement of volunteers to increase mission impact. And the good news? Lots of excellent resources are readily available. Here are several excellent resources including some that focus on engagement of younger volunteers:

• This website hosted by the Corporation for National and Community Service, provides the most comprehensive collection of data on volunteering and civic engagement ever assembled, including data for every state and nearly 200 cities. The data is collected through a partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and has been released annually since 2005.
• Everyone Ready Professional Development Program in Volunteer Management. Everyone Ready® is a professional development program in volunteer management delivered via Online Seminars, electronic Self-Instruction Guides, interactive discussion boards, and other online resources. To learn more about this innovative approach to training, go to:
• Calculating the Economic Impact of Volunteers. The Economic Impact of Volunteers Calculator created by the Points of Light Foundation estimates the appropriate wage rate for volunteer time based on what the person does, the value of specific tasks according to market conditions as reported by the US Department of Labor. Organizations can use the Calculator to determine the value of the time their volunteers give doing a wide variety of volunteer jobs. Go to:
• Sample Volunteer Job Descriptions. The Community Services Council of Newfoundland and Labrador whose mission is to encourage citizen engagement, has created an excellent resource for the development of volunteer job descriptions. To learn more about creating job descriptions for volunteers, go to: To view a variety of sample volunteer job descriptions to help determine the type of volunteer you are looking for, go to: Then to create volunteer job descriptions, you can use an interactive template. You can view your job descriptions online, print them or email them, go to:
• The New Volunteer Workforce by David Eisner, Robert T. Grimm Jr., Shannon Maynard, & Susannah Washburn. Stanford Social Innovation.
• Reinventing Aging. Harvard School of Public Health–MetLife Foundation Initiative on Retirement and Civic Engagement.
• Resources on Baby Boomers. The collection available at the website of the National Corporation for Community Service originally complied by Temple University in April 2008, offers a list of resources for those who have had limited experience with this population, or anyone who would like to learn more.
• The Boomers’ Guide to Good Work. Ellen Freudenheim is the author of a new guide to help boomers find public service jobs in the second half of their lives—the preference of most boomers in their 50s, according to a new national survey. Both the guide, The Boomers’ Guide to Good Work: An introduction to jobs that make a difference, and the survey, MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures New Face of Work Survey are available free online at The MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures New Face of Work Survey is available at
• Generation We: How Millennial Youth are Taking Over America And Changing Our World Forever. Eric Greenberg and Karl Weber. Free downloadable book at
• Youth and Students in Service Resources. Collection of resources that includes volunteering by young people - children, teens, and college age - plus service-learning and family volunteering.