Being an enabler can be a good thing

If volunteers are the lifeblood of any organization, then it is essential to keep the blood flowing.

Speaking during the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) International Conference on Fundraising, Simone P. Joyaux of Joyaux Associates said that supervisors and paid staff could keep the blood pumping by being enablers. They employ enabling functions to strengthen fund development and governance.

Further, being an enabler involves having the right attitude. That means enablers:

  • Respect and trust others;
  • Are trustworthy themselves;
  • Are comfortable with diversity and complexity;
  • Welcome divergent opinions;
  • Are flexible and comfortable with change;
  • Commit to process as well as outcome;
  • Appreciate conversation and disagreement;
  • Share responsibility for success;
  • Acknowledge responsibility for failure;
  • Balance personal ego with egos of others;
  • Persevere; and,
  • Are patient.

In addition, enablers have essential skills: Enablers are: Organizational development specialists; Proficient teachers and learners; Effective communicators (listening, informing and helping to transform information into knowledge),

Critical thinkers (anticipating problems, identifying solutions and redirecting volunteer energies); Strategists (analyzing situations, identifying barriers and opportunities, capitalizing on strengths and ensuring action and results); Comfortable with conflict and able to resolve conflict through shared power with as many individuals as possible; and, Effective motivators who can focus and manage people well.