I just read a fascinating article posted in the New York Times over the weekend. Apparently one of the outcomes of the recession and all the laid off workers is an incredible increase in the number of people wanting to volunteer at their favorite nonprofits. The article quoted an anonymous nonprofit executive:
“Can you make them stop calling?” groused one nonprofit executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Everybody’s inspired by Obama,” he said, adding: “They also don’t have jobs.”
OK, I am sorry. But really? A nonprofit, who a year ago would have been begging for volunteers, is now unhappy that they have too many? This is a high-class problem for these organizations to have. And today, when technology is as cheap as it is, there are many, many ways to make sure the increase in calls and emails from people wanting to volunteer can be dealt with efficiently and effectively — if someone actually wants to deal with them. Some ideas:
- Why not set up a form on their website, drive all volunteers through that form, and push them all to a once-a-month meeting on how to be involved? Minimize the contact and the work on the nonprofit’s side but take advantage of the free resources.
- Get a volunteer to run the volunteer efforts. Train that person and then put them in charge.
- Set up the proper infrastructure to let you more easily dole out tasks and projects.
- Use volunteers to think about creative ways to get funding for new projects.
- Talk to 3-4 other small nonprofits that work in your area and band together to better manage volunteers.
- Take the time to put a plan in place to figure out where you can use people. Are you blogging on your website? If not, get a volunteer to do it. Is someone managing your social media? Do you have someone to liaise between yourself and community members?
I just can’t imagine how a nonprofit wouldn’t be thrilled, and figure out an effective way, to make use of free resources. Better yet – how about if one of you unemployed volunteers figure out a way to turn this surplus of volunteers into a business opportunity? There has GOT to be a great business opportunity waiting to happen!