Want to keep your best volunteers? Here’s how!

A Scout’s Salute to A Great Scoutmaster Volunteer

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month. In honor of the tremendous force of good that the dedicated commitment of volunteerism creates, I am sharing a previously published article about the devotion of Boy Scout leader “Uncle Ralph” Bynum.

One of my great experiences as a young boy growing up in Talladega, Alabama, was to have the opportunity to be a part of Boy Scout Troop 39. Scoutmaster “Uncle Ralph” Bynum was a wonderful, positive, and much needed influence in the lives of countless numbers of youngsters in that community for more than three decades.

As young teenagers my fellow scouts and I were more focused on what mischief we could get into during our campouts on Cheaha Mountain in the Talladega National Forest and while hiking the Odum Scout Trail than on paying attention to Uncle Ralph. Never to be deterred, he and his assistant Tommy Huhn, diligently kept us on the right path.

His own sons had been scouts, but for the most part, he devoted 30 plus years of his vacation time to helping guide boys from other families.

While now I can recognize and am certainly grateful for the impact he had in my life, I’m pretty sure that at the time not many of his scouts stopped to think about why Uncle Ralph gave the dedicated service that he did.

His wife Sibyl shared with me the secret of what motivated him. “He felt that all boys who wanted to be a part of what scouting had to offer should have that opportunity. He felt it was his personal mission,” she said. In other words, he had a personal passion for teaching scouting’s life lessons.

Organizations struggle with finding and keeping volunteers like Uncle Ralph. Here are two tips to help your organization succeed:

  • First, make the effort to find people who feel a connection to your cause. Remember this critical fact in volunteering: the connection between the volunteer and the cause is there for a reason. This reason will be personal and unique to each individual. Identify both that reason and any personal need that is likely to be associated with it.
  • Second, make sure that that need is being met. It can be the difference between having a short-term visitor who sees all the things that need to be done, and a long-term friend who stays and helps you do them.

Finding each volunteer’s personal connection and meeting the related personal need will help your organization find and keep your “Uncle Ralphs.”

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