The heart and soul of any community volunteer or for-profit organization are its volunteers and stakeholders. The best of them are already out there, speaking highly of your community and furthering its efforts, but as a leader, how can you ensure this continues by empowering your members to go the extra mile?
Here are four key areas to look at when empowering stakeholders to bolster community spirit:
One of the most powerful empowerment methods is perhaps the most simple. To listen. Not with the intent to reply, but with the intent to hear. If your volunteers or advocates have feedback or criticism for your organization or its practices, it is best to hear them out; it may be some of the most valuable feedback you’ll receive. If they see you are truly listening, and later doing something about what they have shared, they are more likely to continue as spirited advocates, or make their own strides to change what may or may not be ‘broken.’
A big mistake organizations can make is spending too much time on the recruitment of new members, and not enough time on recognition of long-time veterans. If your all-stars see you pouring your heart and soul into new recruits, they may not have much to say, or they might be right there beside you. However, if you take time out of your scheduled activities to recognize the long-time commitment of your longest-standing supporters or members, it just might give them that extra boost to confirm that this is all worth it.
Recruit Early Adopters
Not to say that recruitment is not important, as every organization knows that it is, but about those veterans. They make your life easy! You can picture them at every event, at every meeting, and if you’re short-handed or have a last minute cancellation, you know they’ll always be there to lend an extra hand. Don’t take that for granted, and don’t let them burn out! The best way to combat this? Have them help by identifying up and coming community champions – as your strongest allies, they probably also have the best eye for the next them.
The formal definition of capacity building more often relates to the implementation of community or government policy, but there is much that smaller organizations can learn from this practice. To educate and enable your members to enhance their contribution and act out the mission of your organization is a highly effective way to enhance your efforts. By building their skills and opening up their ability to support, you are enabling your members to build on what you have already started. Not only does it bolster your efforts, but it’s also efficient and empowering!
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