3 myths (and truths) about committee volunteers

August 18, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

The volunteer committee model is broken, said Peggy Hoffman and Elizabeth Weaver Engel during the recent Bridge to Integrated Marketing and Fundraising Conference in Oxon Hill, Md.

Committees are too homogenous, decision-making is slow, and there are limited opportunities for involvement. Hoffman and Engel shared three myths about volunteering on committees at the Bridge to Integrated Marketing and Fundraising conference in Oxon Hill, Md. No, the package is not on the truck.

Myth 1: Association volunteers are in it for themselves: to improve their skills, build their resumes, or gain acceptance with their peers

The truth: Hoffman and Engel cited a study called The Decision to Volunteer, which showed, of the top five reasons given for volunteering, four are outward facing: It’s important to help others; doing something for a cause that’s important to me; because I feel compassion for others and,; to gain empathy and new perspectives.

Myth 2: People don’t volunteer for reasons outside of an organization’s control.

The truth: According to a study in the American Sociological Review, most of the reasons people don’t volunteer are tied to poor volunteer management practices. These include lack of information about volunteer operations, never being asked to volunteer, and lack of information about short-term or virtual assignments.

Myth 3: The decision to volunteer is spontaneous and triggered by a call for action.

The truth: Volunteering is a calculated decision, according to The Decision to Volunteer. It’s not a whim; it’s a choice, and it’s driven by an organization’s mission and the desire to help.

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