Does your bar association offer plenty of opportunities for members to get involved via microvolunteering?
If your immediate answer is “No” or “What’s that?” it may be that you are offering these small bites of service—or easily could—and just haven’t been thinking of them that way.
That’s all too common in professional associations, said Peggy M. Hoffman, president of Baltimore-based Mariner Management and Marketing LLC. When it comes to volunteer involvement, she told attendees at the 2016 ABA Bar Leadership Institute, “We talk about it only in terms of ‘terms,'”—as in, a lengthy period of service on a committee or board.
According to a study by the American Society of Association Executives called Decision to Volunteer, about 30 percent of members volunteer, Hoffman noted. Among the ones who don’t, about two-thirds say they would like to do so—if there’s an opportunity that is a convenient fit with their schedule.
A different ASAE research project, Exploring the Future of Membership (from the ASAE Foundation) found that associations still persistently create and maintain the “engagement path” that works for baby boomers, Hoffman added, but that model doesn’t work as well these days. What do a lot of your potential volunteers want instead? To do “meaningful, mission-related activities,” Hoffman said, “and then go home.”
Assigning a lower-commitment task requires two key pieces of information, Hoffman said: 1) what the purpose or “charge” is and how it’s connected to the mission, and 2) exactly how much time it will take, and when. For example, in recruiting volunteers to help with a gala, you would tell them what the purpose of the gala is, and also that you’ll need them to meet for a certain length of time on a certain date (perhaps with pizza and beer), make a few phone calls, and then arrive an hour before the event itself.