It’s no secret that capturing the hearts and minds of your people can be transformational in helping your organisation achieve its Vision. Equally, not to do so, may make delivering on your Purpose feel like a hard slog.
So in the context of grassroots (and potentially ‘scrappy’ but more agile) NFPs, as well as in the case of our more traditional (but possibly ‘staid’ and somewhat more conservative) organisations, how can a volunteer workforce contribute to capability building?

Volunteering at the coalface
As I write this, I am at the Community Foundations Australia annual conference in Geelong for a few days.
Today we have had the privilege of visiting two amazing local charities – Geelong Mums who provide material aid to new mums doing it tough, and Feed Me – Geelong who rescue food from local retailers, and distribute it to people who need it – either as boxes of fresh food, or turned into delicious and nutritious meals that just need heating.
Neither of these incredible local organisations would exist without their armies of volunteers (over 400 volunteers working within each organisation!) who believe wholeheartedly in the Purposes of their respective organisations.
Whether it be the accomplished chef heading up Feed Me’s new restaurant social enterprise, or the local women sorting through donations arriving at Geelong Mums’ warehouse daily, they are all committed to providing their grassroots organisations with the capability to be able to respond to the needs of the people seeking their services. The staff alone (of which there are very few) simply couldn’t do it all.

Skills based volunteering
The more traditional NFPs with decades-long histories might tend to be the larger organisations, with bigger bodies of paid staff to take care of operations, but these organisations too usually rely on the passion – and the commitment to the organisational Vision – of volunteers…in their cases, their volunteers are (usually) their board members. While it’s true that some NFPs do pay their board members, most still don’t, and those that do, generally only do so in a small way.
But the many unpaid hours, and the skills and expertise contributed at board level by people with corporate backgrounds, are usually what make a significant difference to the effectiveness and the sustainability of the organisations in question – thus their greater tendency for longevity.

So what does all this mean?
The takeaway from this for me is the importance of continually nurturing and developing our volunteers – whether they be our frontline workforce, or the members of our governing body.
Ensure they are continually reminded of your organisation’s Purpose and Vision, and the direct relationship between what they do for the organisation and the organisation’s success (i.e. its achievement of its Vision and its delivery of its Purpose).
Keep them informed, keep them involved, ask for their opinions.
And through that you will engage with them on a deeper level, and in turn they will pay you back in spades!

Do you need some help to imagine how you could better engage with YOUR volunteers?
Perhaps you’ve never even thought about this approach to volunteer management …

If you need some help to work this through, I can help you with that!
Get in touch with me on or 0421 525 048 to talk about how.

And if you’d like to receive my fortnightly Good Governance E-newsletter, with its regular news, views, information, and events, just let me know.

I hope to hear from you soon!