Creating Rolodex-inspired micro-volunteer opportunities
When it comes to volunteers, some folks shine by doing the heavy lifting of organizing and project management. Others make a similar impact just by opening up their phone directory. You likely know the players in your organization who seem to know everyone in the business. Futurist Malcolm Gladwell calls these people Connectors. When asked to do a small and specific task to support their association, Connectors will happily place a call or tap out a text to someone they know. With very little effort from the member, a valuable connection is made and you’ve onboarded another volunteer.
Encourage attendance at a trade show or conference. Your members already have a rapport with key customers and vendors in your industry. Identify a target list then ask members, “Who do you know on this list?” Provide a list of speaking points and a defined ask and you are on your way to credible third-party endorsements.
Invite a prestigious speaker. Six degrees of separation? That number is going down in the days of LinkedIn and social networking. When inviting that dream speaker, a personal invitation from a colleague is much harder to say no to than a letter of invitation from a faceless organization. Plus, the financial arrangement will likely be better when there is a personal connection.
Find the right person for a fundraising pitch. Say you have a company that you would like to approach for fundraising or grant support but have no connection to that company. Ask your members if they know anyone there. Even if partnerships don’t fall under the contact’s responsibility, an introduction will bypass layers of vetting or calling around to get to the right person.
Recruit candidates for Board or Committee seats. Top talent climbs the career ladder by moving to similar companies. Encourage the people who know best what the job requires to recommend and reach out to colleagues who have previously gone untapped for leadership positions. The conversation will be more candid between peers, resulting in strong candidates who understand what the role entails.
Members can be hesitant to volunteer when the job sounds too big or time commitment too overwhelming. Even the term micro-volunteering may feel too formal, so referring to activities as tasks makes the opportunities sound less daunting. Your members will find the time do to a task that is specifically designed for them. Make it turnkey for the member and the help will be forthcoming.
Beth Mauro is Director of Strategic Marketing and Events for the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. Early on in her career she parlayed her connections made as an association staffer into consulting and contributing to trade magazines. She says, “I have been blessed with opportunities to meet and work with CEOs, celebrities and thought leaders that I would never have access to had I not worked at, or volunteered for, associations.”