3 Types of Volunteer Engagement

When I spoke with Higher Logic at the ASAE Annual Meeting in Nashville last August, I had the opportunity to learn more about Higher Logic’s study on volunteerism and engagement: particularly, term volunteerism, task volunteerism, and micro volunteerism. During our session, the following question came up:

“What kind of smaller or one-off projects are associations using to engage members in a short-term manner rather than a long-term commitment of serving on a committee or a Board?”

Since then, I have had the opportunity to research and this is what I have found:

The Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP) recently completed two projects offering task-based volunteer opportunities to its members: abstract review and input on the design and navigation of its new Website. AAP Executive Director, Tiffany Knowlton, JD, MBA, found it was a great method to get members engaged without a lengthy, time-heavy commitment.

Joel Dolci, CAE, President and CEO of the New York Society of Association Executives (NYSAE) has long espoused task based volunteerism, particularly for NYSAE’s annual professional recognition awards. “Reviewing nominations for NYSAE’s Synergy Awards represents an opportunity for members to utilize their expertise,” said Dolci. “But they can do so without the level of time commitment required for some other committees, such as membership or education.”

Task based volunteerism has long been the norm at cultural institutions. James Horan, HR Generalist, Volunteer Coordinator of the The Brooklyn Museum said, “we engage volunteers for short term assignments such as sorting images in the digital library, proofreading newsletters, and enhancing our visitor engagement during special events.”

The impact of association social communities on member engagement is a significant factor in recruiting task-based volunteers. Cindy Ruckman, Publications Director for the National Association of College Stores (NACS) expressed a sentiment common among association executives when she said, “after we introduced The Hub, NACS’ Connected Community, we heard from many members who had not yet found their voice in the association until they became active in the social community.”

Any ASAE member who has ever posted a message – or responded to one – on Collaborate knows how quickly one can become engaged in a discussion and – recruited for a task based volunteer opportunity!

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