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“Nadia is nothing short of amazing! She continues to work with us on Our Restorative Justice a 501(c)(3) that seeks to disrupt the school to prison pipeline at as many points as possible using time honored restorative justice practices. Nadia has helped us in innumerable ways. She has coached our ED and me as board chair. She has helped us with fundraising work, grant writing work, board governance and development strategy issues. She is highly creative and finds all kinds of informational resources that extend her help cost effectively through things you and I can read. She takes her strong corporate world background and disciplined skills, and uses them to support the efforts of the nonprofit world. Enormously importantly she has excellent judgment and a keen sense of when to support and when to allow those in the entity who should lead to do exactly that. She works with perseverance, good humor and humility. Nadia’s heart is enormous and it shines through in everything she does. And, so far (which is the better part of a year), I have not detected anything that a 501(c)(3) might need that she can’t do or help to do. Nadia is a rare and precious gem nestled into the stones on the beach of life. If you have picked her up from among the others, do not put her down!”
by Professor Susan Maze-Rothstein Northeastern University School of Law/Founder, Our Restorative Justice

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The Frustrated Volunteer!

Nadia Prescott

I recently read this question in the Boston Globe about volunteering. “I want to find a volunteering opportunity and start doing something good for the world, but it seems like every organization makes it a hassle to volunteer”.

Nonprofit organization depend on volunteers. Your board is volunteer, and if you are a smaller organization, you likely rely heavily on volunteers to get many things done. Some organizations might even be all volunteer groups.

In desperation to find volunteers, requests are posted online or through word-of-mouth on an as needs basis with a lack of strategic thinking around volunteers. Hence the problems noted by the Boston Globe reader.

An eager new volunteer turns up ready willing and able to work for the organization. And there’s nobody there to support him or her. They show up a few times, do “stuff” where they do not see the bigger picture of what has to be done and why. The disorganization and lack of appreciation inevitably turns them away for the long term.

I see this all too often. The overriding need for help overrides the logical thought process and action steps you would take if this were for a permanent job. Take time to think about your volunteer strategy and volunteer management. What is the role or roles that are required?

How much time each week? Is this something that can be done remotely? What skills are needed? Who is going to manage the person and the project they are involved with and to ensure that course corrective action can be taken if needed? How will you make the volunteer feel appreciated and feel part of something important?

If you have a good volunteer you want to make sure you keep them engaged with the organization if this is only a short-term need. That points to another important consideration. Is this a short-term or a long-term need? Answer this questions, put a process in a place and you will recruit and most importantly retain excellent volunteers. And make it easy for those who volunteer with you!

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