President's Update - September 2020

MSAE President's Update - September 2020

MSAE President, Kathy Pabst, CAE

Raise your hand if your organization uses volunteers! Now, raise your hand if you have or are currently a volunteer for another organization. I raised my hand on both of these questions. Many of our organizations rely on volunteers…whether dues-paying members or those interested in furthering the mission of your organization. Volunteers help the organization by providing important constituency perspectives, as well as providing tangible or intangible resources to the organization. MSAE is moving forward because of the volunteer spirit of our members and the board of directors. Members who have stepped up to serve on a committee have been key to this statewide organization continuing to be relevant to our members. As I stated, their commitment, perspective, and time are critical to the advancement of Missouri associations.

So if you raised your hand for whether you volunteer for other organizations, why do you do this? Do you have a vested interest in the organization? Is it related to a school, church, or special interest near and dear to your heart? For me, the answer is yes to all of the above. My volunteer efforts throughout my life and career have changed depending on what I deemed important at the time. I have served my son’s school association, church council, American Cancer Society, MSAE, higher education associations, healthcare coalitions, and many others– blending my commitment to personal and professional goals that I want to impact. It is based on what is important to me.

So, what is important to your volunteers? How do you inspire volunteers to make your organization a personal or professional priority? It goes back to their purpose for volunteering such as self-esteem, social interaction, the cause, build a resume, and/or simply just help others.

Now that you have volunteers, what are you doing to keep them? This is no different than recruiting and retaining members. Volunteers are just as important because they provide a valuable resource to your organization or cause. You can retain them by how you interact with them, appreciate them, and value their knowledge and service. They are volunteering because it is important to them…they in turn should be important to you.

According to, you can keep volunteers motivated and engaged by:

1. Valuing their time
2. Utilize their strengths
3. Listen to their feedback
4. Offer tools and support
5. Show appreciation
6. Create a volunteer engagement policy

Creating an organizational culture and structure to recruit, retain, and manage your volunteers builds a cohesive team among your staff and volunteers. Outlining expectations will define internal and external tasks, as well as minimize confusion and role responsibilities. And, as with everything, communicate, communicate, and then communicate some more. There are many websites with information that can help you create your volunteer policy and methods to recruit and retain your volunteers. Let’s work together and make a difference!

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

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