The latest Catholic School Management Letter takes a look at maximizing volunteer efforts. Check out this excerpt:
Within Catholic schools, leadership is sought in numerous areas, and the volunteers who take on these key roles can make a substantial addition to the school experience. Yet quite often managing volunteer engagement for maximum positive impact can be a challenge.
In the perfect world, these volunteers are always absolutely clear about their mandate. Therefore, there is no danger of tensions arising from issues ranging from underperformance to micromanagement.
In the real world, while gifts of time and talent from volunteers have a long and valued history of supporting Catholic schools, contemporary challenges of increasing school needs combined with increasing constraints on available volunteer time often create a volunteer conundrum….
It is impossible to imagine any Catholic school surviving without the contributions of its volunteers, and the most effective Catholic schools operate so that leadership groups are empowered to contribute in mission-focused and meaningful ways to a school’s success.
Characteristics of Strong Boards and Volunteer Leadership Groups
Use this list for a quick checkup on the health of a board or volunteer leadership group. For example, if significant fundraising is what is needed, it makes no sense to seek to populate a board with a large number of committees OR to be surprised when a member of the buildings and grounds committee doesn’t magically turn into a part-time major gift officer. What is most needed at this moment in time? That’s the clear mandate, and it should drive focus, identification, enlistment, training and activity.
- Clear Mandate
- Specific Goals and Objectives to Meet Current Challenges
- Membership Committed to Mandate and Appropriate to Tasks/Roles
- Viable Committee Structure
- Cultivation of Future Leadership
- Excellent Communication and Work Ethic
- Strong Board/Volunteer/Staff Relationships
- Written Expectations
… Regardless of the areas in which volunteer leadership groups operate, the hope is that all members will embrace the role of ambassador for their Catholic school. Toward that end, don’t assume they automatically know how to do this.
- Address the art and science of strategic conversations.
- Continually present mission moments that reveal the school’s special and distinctive characteristics.
- Show volunteers how to use casual encounters to promote the school.
- Regularly share news about accomplishments while also illustrating how to spread the good word.
Help them become the narrators of the school’s story. Provide the training necessary to make the fulfillment of their stated expectations comfortable and rewarding. Remind all those entrusted with volunteer leadership roles about the extraordinary impact the Catholic school has on the lives of the students, the workplaces they will one day enter, the families they will one day create, and the churches and community organizations they will one day join.
Catholic education is one of the most powerful forces on earth for improving the common good, and that must be reinforced again, and again, and again.