I read Bill Troy’s post on recruiting members and volunteers with interest because I am not only a member and volunteer wit ASQ, I am also a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts. Like many other membership organizations, the Girl Scouts have been hit with a downward trend in members and volunteers, described in a recent New York Times article. I see many parallels within these organizations and how the volunteers struggle with changing demographics. One things that I think is critical for volunteer organizations is training. Critical enough that I have involved myself with training both in ASQ, through the Technical Communities Council working on a team with Section and Divison leaders looking at how to better train members, and in Girl Scouts, participating in a team within our council that helped staff develop training for new Daisy, Brownie and Junior leaders. There is nothing that frustrates me more as a volunteer than to hear people complain about the things that they don’t have… or talk about this great idea that we should do, only it is something that is already available, and in some cases has been for years.
Training is a two-way street. As volunteers, we need to make a commitment to learn what we need to do in order to do our volunteer jobs well. My council requires some training before you can become a leader. This is not something consistent from council to council. ASQ has some of the basic training available for section and division member leaders available online, and offers training regionally, as well as through other organized events. Each position has resources and information available in the Member Leader Community of Practice as well as a position description.
Why is training so important? As a volunteer, I can’t help members access the benefits of their membership unless I am aware of them. For recruitment, I can’t begin to ask someone to join if I don’t know what we do. Have you been trained on your volunteer position? How does it affect your ability to lead?