A useful resource

The Nonprofiteer has been fascinated for the past several years by the uses nonprofits make—or fail to make—of highly-skilled volunteers, and has given a fair amount of advice on the subject to whomever will listen.  But she’d be hard-pressed to produce a more careful, lucid, step-by-step account of high-skills volunteer management than that provided by Aaron Hurst of the Taproot Foundation in the new Jossey-Bass Guidebook Powered By Pro Bono.  It includes worksheets to help clients develop projects that are suitable for volunteer assistance (and to identify those that aren’t); instructions on how and why to act like a paying client; and much, much more. 

The only material omission is a discussion of how paid personnel feel about, and deal with, free assistance.  As this must surely be a hot topic at an institution devoted to providing agencies with unpaid labor, the omission must be deliberate, but is probably unwise.  Dealing with resentful staff is part of managing any high-skills volunteer project.

Still, if you’re a hard-pressed Executive Director (or Program Director, or Volunteer Coordinator), this will be the best $34.95 you could spend.

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4 Responses to “A useful resource”

  1. Anita Bernstein Says:

    There’s a third cohort, not just nonprofit managers and paid staff. Does Powered by Pro Bono have advice for us wannabe volunteers trying to learn (before we sign up) whether the organization is rational enough to deal with our donated time and energy? If so, I wish I’d bought this book many years ago.

    • Nonprofiteer Says:

      You’re absolutely right, but unfortunately the book doesn’t address that subject directly. It’s entirely organized to assure that groups are ready to use high-skills volunteers, but it doesn’t provide a guide for finding the groups which have accepted that advice.

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    i belong to a carnival club, which follows Roberts rules. The board is voted on by the board. A lot of us in the krewe think this is very unfair and considered closed voting. We would like it to change where the general membership votes on the board. We have asked several time but the board keeps voting against. Is there anything we can do as the general membership to overrule their vote??

    • Nonprofiteer Says:

      Whether the general membership has the power to override the Board depends on the group’s bylaws, which are a public document. So demand a copy of them from the Board and see what rights you have as a general member. Most nonprofit Boards perpetuate themselves, but membership organizations are different from charities or arts groups and often have special provisions for member involvement. If the crewe doesn’t have these provisions (or doesn’t have bylaws at all), your only recourse is to lead an exodus of the dissatisfied members and form your own group, which can be governed as you see fit.

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