R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Volunteers

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Volunteers

One of our key tenants here at R & B is to counsel our clients to respect their attendees’ time. Close the silent auction on schedule.  Start speeches early in the evening. Conduct the live auction (with rare exceptions) during dinner.  Since everyone knows why they are in the room, it is best to get on with the proceedings. If attendees start to feel like they are being held hostage, they will rapidly disappear before the real fundraising begins.

But, over the years I have noticed that this respect does not always to extend equally to volunteers. A volunteer base is golden and is the fuel that moves the fundraising engine.  This is no secret or great insight on my part.

But volunteers’ time is not always treated as valuable.  One of the worst examples of this was an event with an auction that was scheduled to begin at 8, yet the volunteer spotters were required to be at the venue at 4 PM.  Really?  Why?  Spotter training takes maybe 20 minutes at the most.  Did that charity really need to have those generous souls in the room for 4 hours in advance?  Had I been on that team of spotters, I would have greatly resented this and certainly would not have been there again the next year.  Wouldn’t 6:30 have been a more reasonable request?  Even 6 PM would have been better if the chair or development director needed a reassuring showing of all hands on deck.

For those with duties that began at 4, of course that should be the arrival time.

And it goes without saying that volunteers need to have food, beverages (non-alcoholic), and a place to sit down and rest.

Finally, kudos to all those who provide a thank-you party for volunteers to celebrate their role in your good work!  The V Foundation Wine Celebration hosts a next-day party and includes a restaurant buffet lunch, drawings for all kinds of gifts, wine, and more.  Best of all, board members as well as the executive director and key players circulate the room to thank everyone.

And, it is not unheard of for volunteers to morph into bidders, donors and board members.  Treat them well!

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