Don’t delegate and forget

Volunteers who sign up for involvement in a nonprofit or an association are anticipating a positive experience.

When they don’t find that gratification, they face frustration, and the organization faces volunteer and member retention issues.

Too often organization leaders assume that the person being given a responsibility understands the task at hand and has the ability to get it done successfully. In addition they fail to follow up, compounding the problem.

Regardless of results, the volunteer’s experience is almost certain to be frustrating.

There is, unfortunately, a consistent pattern of people who persevere, get the job done, and then quit because they felt abandoned.

Delegating and forgetting is a recipe for disaster. Engaging in this behavior risks both loss of the volunteer or member and failure of the activity.

Help avoid potential negative results with these five delegation tips:

  • Don’t assume. Have ongoing conversations so you have a comfort level that your volunteer understands the task, is committed to it, and carries it out.
  • Get specific answers to specific questions such as, What’s the completion date? Who signed up? What sponsors have committed? How many tickets have been sold? How much has been raised?
  • Don’t accept non-specific answers like, “It’s going well” and “Everything’s fine.”
  • Be a good listener. Pay attention to signals that indicate your volunteer is struggling.
  • Follow up and get real time evaluation. Make needed adjustments so tasks remain on track for success.

Each subsequent communication provides the opportunity to recognize good effort. Positive reinforcement is a powerful motivator and goes a long way toward keeping volunteers and members engaged.

If you delegate and proactively follow up with them, you will help ensure they have a positive experience and you will avoid unnecessarily adding to your retention issues.

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