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Keeping Volunteers Engaged During Organizational Change: A Tool for Successful Transition

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Introduction

Nonprofit organizations everywhere are engaging in strategic discussions to discover how they can be more efficient and effective in delivering services to enhance their missions. Too often they are not thinking about the impact of proposed changes on their volunteer manpower. Or they are having the discussion after the changes are made. At that point in time, it may be too late to consider the effect on volunteer involvement. I have observed national and regional organizations that, through benign neglect, did not engage volunteers in their initial strategic planning discussions. The impact was tragic. They lost many dedicated volunteers and donors who felt overlooked in the process.

“A Tool for Engaging Volunteers in the Change Process” provides a series of questions which should be addressed by staff and leadership volunteers as they are starting the process of major change within their organizations. The changes can be as great as mergers or can be less drastic internal changes dealing with how services will be delivered in the future.

It is often very difficult for paid staff to think about the effect on volunteers when they are concerned about how planned changes will impact their own positions within the organization. So, although these volunteer-focused questions may sound natural to ask, they must compete with the uncertainty felt by others about the organizational changes.

This article includes a print-ready handout of the change process Tool and a ready-to-use Microsoft PowerPoint presentation of the Tool to use in a meeting or training session.