I have two things weighing on my brain right now but they deal with the same subject: Volunteers. In early February I am traveling to Colorado to help with a training event around recruiting, training, and retaining volunteers. I can tell already that I am going to get as much out of it as anyone taking the class. I also became a basketball coach to my son's first and second grade (church league) team by default. This was one of those moments where all the parents held their cards close until 12 hours out from the first practice and I stood up like a man in a cape and said, "Fine, I'll do it." (Do superhero costumes come with lots of X's in front of the L?) Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to coach but I enjoy the freedom of yelling at someone like coaching high school football. Yelling doesn't work well with first and second graders. I have to be honest about the coaching experience, I feel like I'm a drone. Do you know what a drone is? It's one of those unmanned flying planes the military uses to watch people. Here's one:
No one who works with a volunteer force takes volunteers for granted, at least I hope not. But I struggle with the line between having a system where volunteers are trained around core principles and then they act creatively or a system that removes creativity and enforces a standard, sort of like a drone that is there to keep watch? I was trained to coach in about and hour and I was handed a book, which has instructions for everything. I was told, just do the practices in the book. There was an also an app! The app has everything the book does including instructional videos. I don't even have to think! I just do what the book or app tells me to do. In addition, after my frist practice there was an email to the coaches with a bunch of "dont's". But is that really helpful to volunteers? Or am I just missing it, is this the experience the modern volunteer wants to have?
To me, these are the experiences I want for volunteers:
1. They feel trained.
2. They are celebrated for being creative.
3. They increase in ownership and input.
4. They have freedom to live out a calling under the umbrella of the mission.
I really need your input on this one! What experience do you think the modern volunteer is looking for? What do you want to experience as a volunteer? Your thoughts will be so helpful here. Please comment below!