The Business of Volunteering

April is Volunteer Month, an important reminder for many of us who depend on volunteers in our businesses.  Whether they’re our spouses, kids, students volunteering for school credit or those just helping in the community, for many of us we wouldn’t be in business without our volunteers.  Today I want to encourage you in two ways: 1-love your volunteers  and 2-give back.

Let’s start with the first thought, loving your volunteers.  I’ve worked as a volunteer for many organizations through my life and it’s always interesting to see how the business and/or employers treat the volunteers.  Sometimes the volunteers are treated as humans and other times they’re slave labor.  If you have volunteers working for you here are a couple of thoughts:

-make sure to thank your volunteers.  They could volunteer anywhere and they chose you.

-you may think volunteers are a dime-a-dozen, but wait until the grapevine takes effect and they’ve told everyone how terrible you treated them and you won’t have even one volunteer interested in working with you.

-if you can give them a gift beyond any signed paperwork, surprise them.  Consider if there is some, however small, way that you can show your appreciation for their work.

-remember that they’re people too and would really like to be treated as such.  Try to remember their names and give them an occasional break. 

The second important point that Volunteer Month brings up for me is that we business owners need to be giving back.  It’s not just about giving our employees and volunteers recognition, respect and reward, but about helping out in our communities.   Maybe you can’t give financially or volunteer often, but there are lots of little ways you can help out:

-put a box in the office for donations of either clothing or food to be donated to a homeless shelter.

-volunteer to help at a walk for Cancer, AIDS, Autism or even a 5k or Triathlon in your area.  It’s an easy one day commitment.

-donate a percentage of your proceeds to an organization like Wounded Warrior Project or FINCA.

Not only will being a considerate employer, business and community leader feel good to you, you’ll have great feedback from your clients and employees.  What can you do for your volunteers and your community?

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