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3 Ways to Motivate Member Volunteers

By Tessa O’Sullivan, Senior Account Manager

TMG’s Tessa O’Sullivan, in colonial garb, volunteering for the Noah Webster House in West Hartford, CT.

As an association manager, I work with passionate volunteers every day. Then, after work, I become one of those volunteers! In my personal time I serve on the executive board for the Noah Webster House and West Hartford Historical Society. Not only do I take the minutes, attend meetings, and offer financial support, I also volunteer for programs—including ghostly performances in a dark cemetery sharing spooky, but historically accurate, tales to brave visitors.

Why do I volunteer? The society does a great job keeping me motivated. You should keep these tips in mind when you want to engage your own member volunteers!

Ignite Their Passion

Personal time is precious. If I’m giving up my time, I have to love the reason why.

I love American Revolutionary history. In the museum, I stand in the childhood home of America’s Educator and teach visitors about him and about living in colonial times. My family doesn’t find it cool that I can start a fire using flint and steel, but our visitors do!

I learned passion will ignite volunteers. Passion got me in the door, and it will do the same for your members.

Respect Their Time

I volunteer for the cemetery tour because it is a time-limited project: two months of rehearsals culminates in performances. Before I joined the board, I would not commit until I knew that the meetings were held on dates and times that I was free.

Without well-defined time commitments, I would have shied away from volunteering. Your members are concerned about their schedules too. By respecting their time, you can enable them to volunteer and combat fears of overcommitment.

Communicate Personally

I never intended to join the board. I love the society’s mission and the goals, but I also know how hard board members work. However, when a person I knew and respected asked me to serve on the board, I could not look her in the eye and say no. Connie taught me first-hand the power of the personal touch.

A personal visit or call between members is so much more powerful than any written communication or advertising plea. It worked on me!

Try to incorporate passion, time management, and personal communications into your volunteer engagement strategy. If you still have trouble reaching your volunteers, TMG can help. Don’t hesitate to reach out!