Volunteering is another form of donating. For some it is the first step. After they experience the mission, they are willing to donate some of their treasures to it.
Almost everyone is willing to donate to an organization. Through guilt, a sense of obligation, or solicitation it is possible to extract a donation. However, that donation is far from the potential you could receive and it is unlikely you will find a smile in the donor’s heart. Gifts on the other hand come from the heart.
Thousands of parents spend time volunteering at their child’s parochial school. How many of them are there because they want to be? How many of them are there because the policy manual says that every parent must volunteer X hours per month? The requirement of volunteer service is justified because it reduces the cost of operating the school and the donors are paying part of the cost of tuition (volunteering = tuition discount). If the parents “volunteer” under those circumstances, is that volunteering (willing service)? Or are the parents receiving payment (lower tuition) for services rendered?
If the parents are donating their time without a smile in their heart, what is the likelihood that the parents will give to the school after graduation?
Is the work you expect from your volunteers meaningful? Remember the volunteer is the one who defines meaningful.
Are you expressing the need for volunteers as meaningful? Stuffing envelopes sounds like work. Volunteering so that the school can save money on professional services sounds like an economic transaction. Helping a student reach their full potential by being a tutor sounds like meaningful, mission-oriented work.
Some will say that saving on professional services is important because it lowers the cost of education.
Enabling a student to be successful attracts more families and students. Having successful students, increases enrollment.
Which is worth more? A few hours of service from a volunteer who paints a wall or gaining a tuition-paying student for 9 years (K – 8th grade) or 4 years (freshman – senior). Whose heart will contain a bigger smile? In addition, the tutor is likely to donate classroom materials each year because he or she understands the needs of the students.
Define the mission-oriented work others can doRecruit volunteers who want to work on the missionAsk the volunteers to tell you why they feel a sense of fulfillment from their volunteeringUse the sense of fulfillment (smile in their hearts) to recruit more volunteersAsk the volunteers what is needed to make their job easier (Their expression of the need for a leader’s guide, for example, helps them realize that by donating a leader’s guide they are helping the students, the mission, and themselves.)
Volunteers are an invaluable resource. When their sense of fulfillment increases, they become effective recruiting tools for more volunteers. As their sense of fulfillment increases their generosity increases. In short, a volunteer who is advancing the mission can be worth their weight in gold.
Necessary volunteers perform practical tasks and save money. Good volunteers advance the mission. As the effectiveness of the mission increases, enrollment will follow. When enrollment increases, the school becomes more sustainable.
One final point. In general, it is reported that volunteerism has remained constant through the recession. It is nice to know that there is an abundance of volunteers.