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MARKETING 101: What Motivates Your Volunteers?

April 2008
By: Jerry Thacker
Recently in my reading for the PhD program in which I am enrolled, I encountered a book entitled, The Essential Drucker, by the late management consultant and guru, Dr. Peter F. Drucker. He discussed the management of non-profit organizations and expressed his opinion that many non-profit organizations are run better than many profit-making companies. His rationale for saying this was that non-profit managers had to be better at what they do because the prospect of financial reward is not usually a part of volunteer motivation. I tend to agree with Drucker.

Volunteers bring to your ministry a form of "social capital" in their willingness to participate, faithfulness in fulfilling commitments, and enthusiasm. When was the last time you thanked each volunteer—from board members to office staff to counselors—for giving of themselves and their time to the ministry? Do you have a regular program of encouraging them and giving them the kudos that will keep them loyally coming back to do their duties?

Think about it now. Sit down with your calendar and pencil in the emails, written thank you notes, public recognition events, and other ways in which you will honor your volunteers during the next 12 months. By recognizing a job well done, you will cement the bond between leadership and followership. The return on the investment of time and effort you put into recognizing, thanking, and supporting your volunteers will return to you multiplied in good works and ministry support!

Jerry Thacker is President of Right Ideas, Inc., and publisher of At the Center. He can be reached at contact@rightideas.us.

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