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harple's avatar

What advice would you give to a newly appointed chairperson of a voluntary organisation?

Asked by harple (10427 points ) July 10th, 2012

There’s a high chance that I may be fortunate enough to be appointed as chairperson to a charitable organisation that I am part of.

Do you have any nuggets of advice on running a good ship, helping people to feel valued, making the best use of people’s skills…?

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10 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Delegatte, delegate, delegate.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@marinelife haha I was about to write the same thing! @harple Indeed, you need to be able to trust the people you cooperate with to take on some of the workload or you’ll be swamped in no time.

ucme's avatar

Insist on having a gavel & pound on it whenever the need arises, “Order…order!!”

poisonedantidote's avatar

Volunteers are not employees.

My girlfriend/fiance used to volunteer for an organization in the UK, and she eventually quit working for them, as have many other people.

The organization treats the volunteers badly, basically treating them as employees. While a volunteer should act like a worker or employee, they should be treated with more respect and given the freedom that comes with the word volunteer.

If you yell at a volunteer for being 10 minutes late, the next day they wont show up at all. Instead you need to kiss ass a little bit, and tell them that you really need them to come in on time because they are a very important part of the group, and that without them you can’t work as well.

My girlfriend used to work 10 hours a day for the organization I mentioned, often traveling alone on public transport at late hours in dangerous areas to do said job, in return she got nothing but the thanks of those she helped. The organization then tried to push more hours on to her, when she did not want them they told her that if she did not do the other hours, they would revoke her charity status in the UK and have her visa revoked and have her deported. This turned out to be a very bad move for them, as I got her an non-charity visa the next day for 6 months, we then told them where to stick it, and took them to court to contest their status as a charitable organization.

Before this, many others left also, after having other demands made at them, or after simply not being treated right.

If someone volunteers, you have to praise them regardless of how shit they are at what they do, and be thankful that they show up each day.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

#1. If one doesn’t already exist, or it’s time to create a new one, start by focusing on the vision of the organization. Where does the organization want to be? Think of it as a boat that is attempting to reach a final destination. The vision should describe that final place. It should be simple and easy to understand.

#2. Next is a mission statement. Why do you want to accomplish this?

#3. Goals are set. This is the What. What needs to happen in order to accomplish the vision.

#4. Strategy. What is the strategy for accomplishing each goal? This is the How.

#5. Tasks. This is a list of the things that need to happen in order to carry out the strategies.

#6. Task Due Dates. When does a task need to be completed in order to effectively accomplish a strategy?

#7. Person Responsible for the Task. This is were delegation comes into play. If it is broken down by task and a realistic due date is set, then it is easier for volunteers to, well volunteer for the tasks.

#8. Communication. Make sure that regular meetings, as well as a form of group communication is set up to keep everyone in the loop on status updates.

#9. Recognition. Create programs that recognize members for accomplishing goals and communication successes. There doesn’t need to be an award attached, but this doesn’t hurt either. It doesn’t need to come in the form of money.

6rant6's avatar

My rule for a voluntary organization has always been the people who do the work make the decisions. If someone takes initiative, they have done the right thing.

picante's avatar

Good for you! This might be one of the most difficult “jobs” you’ll ever have, and it is likely to be one of the most rewarding, as well. You have some excellent advice above, and I can only add that you should create formal programs for leadership development within your volunteer ranks. Seek out and mentor specific individuals who can provide value to the organization. Be mindful of the culture—respect that above all else. When something doesn’t feel right, it’s not right—create appropriate processes to deal with aberrations against the culture.

jca's avatar

I used to volunteer at two organizations. One was a larger part of a local government, and used the services of a lot of elderly to do it’s work. They had a lot of parties to thank the volunteers and make them feel special. The other organization did similar work, but I was the only one working, in addition to one other elderly man. Since it was just us, he would buy me lunch every week (I worked one day a week there) and I was grateful for it. Little perks like that can help people feel special and happy to work for you.

Sunny2's avatar

Keep meetings in order.
Say something complimentary before you criticize.
Be pleasant, not bossy.
Recognize achievements, even small ones.

augustlan's avatar

In addition to all of the above, excite your volunteers. Make volunteering something they really look forward to.

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