It begins with a volunteer role and philosophical
approach centered on the association’s mission,
and what it needs to accomplish and fulfill that
mission. Individuals make a calculated decision
on whether or not to volunteer based on the task,
the time investment, and their own personal
needs—and the task needs to further an association’s mission through a meaningful opportunity
that provides clear results.
How this plays out in any given association is
unique to each situation. It can result in a broad
overhaul of the governance structure or it can
produce a philosophical shift in which the vol-
unteer is seen as intrinsic to widespread mem-
ber engagement rather than to only a subset of
highly involved members. In any case, it’s about
allowing members to design their own engage-
ment in ways that connect to the associa-
tion’s mission and to their own skills, abilities
and passions. The hallmarks of a mission-
driven volunteer program include:
• Projects evaluated based on how they
contribute to the mission
• Structure built around project-oriented
teams rather than the budget cycle
• Volunteers selected based on competen-
cies and skills rather than for position
title, tenure or political reasons
Most often, organizations are refashion-
ing their committee structures by replacing
standing committees with task forces or
short-term groups—increasing opportunities
for members to contribute and participate.
Answer these 10 questions to find out:
1. What does your demographic breakdown of volunteers
look like? Are you seeing a surge in Gen-X and Millennial volunteers? What are you doing to discover and
accommodate their preference in volunteering?
2. Among your current volunteer opportunities and groups,
which support primarily infrastructure? Which support
3. What types of decisions in your association would benefit from a deliberative decision-making process? Which
would benefit from a more rapid decide-experiment-learn-iterate process?
4. What current volunteer projects could be turned over to
mission-focused task forces?
5. What current volunteer projects should be dropped to
allow you to refocus volunteer and staff resources on
6. What might have to change in your internal or volunteer
culture to become more open to entrepreneurial volunteers?
7. Have you audited your volunteer opportunities to assure
a variety of options that target low, medium and high
commitment, as well as differing levels of task complexity and expertise required?
8. What do your volunteers say is working and not working
for them in regard to volunteering for your organization?
9. Have you asked members who aren’t volunteering what
barriers they experience?
10. How visible is volunteering in your association?
Is Your Association Ready for Mission-Driven Volunteering?