Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Volunteers and Your Strategic Plan

I'm currently working with a local, all-volunteer nonprofit to develop and deliver their training curriculum. Part of that training for their leadership, of course, includes the review of the organization's strategic plan and the contributions of the various teams to the annual plan. Your organization can have the most impressive strategic plan on paper, but unless your teams put an annual plan in place to support those goals (and measure their progress on a regular basis)...it doesn't mean a thing!

If you're volunteering: ask the organization to share with you their strategic goals and how your team is supporting those goals and the mission this year. Use the team's progress toward the strategic goals as part of your personal success story.

If you're utilizing volunteers: be sure to share the strategic goals of your organization on a regular basis and give periodic updates on how the various volunteer teams are impacting your annual and strategic plans. You may even go one step further and help each team create a success story that they can add to their professional bios -- or compile these success stories and use them in your annual community service/philanthropy reporting.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Volunteering as Networking

With the downturn of the economy, many people approached me (in both my professional and volunteer leadership capacities) to help them find things: mentors, connections, jobs, etc. While I haven't had the bandwidth to personally help with all of these requests, I do have one consistent piece of advice - Volunteer! Why? Because your volunteer networks can become your job and mentor seeking networks. When looking to transition into the nonprofit sector as a profession, I had to evaluate who could serve as a reference for me regarding these specific skill sets - and it almost always came back to my fellow volunteers, past and present.

Want to see if a volunteer network could benefit you? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
  • Outside of work, where am I involved?
  • What is the list of people that I could call today for a favor or introduction?
  • Could the leaders of organizations for which I volunteer serve as a reference for me?
  • Have I tracked the impacts of my volunteer service/projects? (this is a BIG one, and I'll go into more detail in an upcoming blog post)
By looking at the individuals in your volunteer network, you greatly open up your networking possibilities. It's never too late to start - find a volunteer opportunity that fits (strategically) with your goals and utilize that opportunity to expand your possibilities.