“BREAKING BAD” HABITS: 10 Mistakes Volunteer Organizations Make

“BREAKING BAD” HABITS: 10 Mistakes Volunteer Organizations Make

All of us know someone who’s a leader or member in some kind of volunteer organization, whether it’s a church group, fraternity/ sorority, student group or neighborhood association. Here are some bad habits that I’ve witnessed keep mission-based organizations from doing their best work:

10. Planning for the Best Case Scenario
Optimism is an important part of keeping your enthusiasm, but it’s not a sound business strategy. Develop an action plan that takes into account things not going exactly as planned.

9. Not Hiring Professionals
People work better when they get paid. Expecting them to donate their services is exploitation. Whether its a member or an outside person, pay them (on time), even if you have to negotiate a reduced rate.

8. Forgetting the “80/20” Rule
No matter what you do, 80% of the work will most likely be done by 20% of the members. Assigning tasks to people equally will yield very unequal results.

7. Forgetting That Donors Are Customers
People who give their hard-earned money expect something in return, even if it’s just appreciation. Build relationships before you ask, and express thanks each and every time they give.

6. Forgetting That Volunteers AreĀ  Customers
People who donate their time are just as important as those who donate their money. Keeping them happy often simply means showing them the results of their participation in dollars raised and people helped.

5. Working for Your Staff and Not the Other Way Around
You should be receiving measurable productivity from each and every person on the payroll. If not, you need to re-evaluate …even if that person is a friend or relative!

4. Expecting Something for Nothing
You get what you pay for…enough said!

3. Believing Money Is The Devil
Money may not be your mission, but it is the fuel that allows your organization to successfully fulfill its goals. Not dealing with it is not an option.

2. Letting Strong Personalities Hijack the Organization
“Hurt people hurt people.” Be selective about who you put in key positions. Some people just like to throw their weight around.

1. Playing “Vendor Roulette”
Is your group or chapter using different vendors every year for the same projects? It’s usually because either the vendor or the leadership was unhappy with last year’s results. Choose vendors you can build relationships with, not just the cheapest – and pay them on time (“the person with the checkbook is out of town/ didn’t make the meeting” is not an excuse!)

Contact us to find out more if:
  • You are the Leader or Board Member at a non-profit organization
  • You are preparing to file or just received your 501(c)(3) designation
  • You are looking to increase your donor base
  • You want to recruit more volunteers or community stakeholders
  • You have a loved one who has a vision and needs some help getting to the next level
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