In a sense, passion is what makes the nonprofit and association world go around. Each nonprofit organization exists because of a passionate desire to change the world in some way.
For associations, passion is what business and military planners call a “force multiplier.” It takes the resources you have and makes them more powerful. Many nonprofit leaders would rather have one volunteer who is passionate about the organization’s mission than two or three who see their time there as a chore.
Ironically, this means the most dedicated volunteers are the most susceptible to burnout, because they are the most likely to make significant personal sacrifices and work the most hours.
So how can we reduce the occurrence of burnout and retain these dedicated volunteers? Let’s review how burnout happens and how an association management company, or AMC, can help reduce the pressure on your volunteers.
The How and Why of Burnout
Volunteer burnout is simply stress that causes a volunteer to regard their time serving as too difficult to continue. Though it’s really one phenomenon, it can arise in many forms. They may find it a physical burden, decide the time taken away from their family is not worth it, or even no longer believe the organization is having an effect worth their time.
The amount of time a volunteer gives correlates closely to their risk of burnout, but other factors can increase this risk. If leaders fail to communicate the value of their work (failing to express gratitude or communicate the connection between their work and the organization’s goals, etc.) their stress level will rise, and their perception of their value will fall. Conversely, volunteers can also experience stress from the perception that they personally are responsible for the success of the organization.
While it’s important for leaders to watch out for these factors, one thing is clear: The lower the time requirements and stress from responsibility, the lower the chance of burnout is to begin with. That’s where an AMC comes in.
An AMC Can Reduce Time Demands
When you work with an AMC, necessary tasks for day-to-day and even year-to-year operations (such as preparing financial statements) can be handed off to specialists outside your organization. Each of these tasks is one less that a volunteer will have to learn and accomplish, making it easier to balance their time.
An AMC Can Reduce Tangential Tasks
The actor Jerry O’Connell once said, “I love acting, so I do it for free; it’s the standing around between shots that I expect to be paid for.” Many of our volunteers signed on to make things happen with passion but are doing a lot of “standing around between shots.” They cope with the realities of phones and emails that need answering and donor and member relations that need handling.
With an AMC partner, you can hand off some or all tasks that are not directly mission-related. This allows volunteers to focus their time and their energy on what matters. What they may have perceived as drudgery (or at least tangential) is no longer on their plate.
An AMC Can Transform a Volunteer’s Job to 100% Passion Projects
Imagine the change in your organization’s morale and effectiveness if volunteers and staff are solely focused on the things that matter to them and are the “tip of the spear” for your particular mission. In other words, it’s all passion projects! Plus, you can set the parameters for how much an AMC does for you. For example, if your volunteers love planning the annual conference they can have at it; if not, an AMC can provide you a turnkey experience and all your best volunteers have to do is show up and enjoy it.
Could Your Association Preserve Passion by Working with an AMC?
At V2, we’ve provided full service and outsourced services for national associations for many years and can deliver the resources and expertise that help you thrive. Get in touch with us today, and let’s see how we can improve your association together.