Tuesday, December 30, 2008

ED - the Engagement Director

I've been reading a lot about volunteer engagement, and Boomers, and the untapped (no pun intended) pool of talent of the Boomers reaching retirement age but not ready to hit the links or just fade out. A key component of tackling the needs of the uninsured is to reach these retired health care professionals.

Unfortunately, free clinics don't do themselves a favor with their volunteer recruitment efforts. They may have some systems or processes in place, but more than likely it's a grab-em-and-put-them-to-work mentality. Most clinics call their efforts volunteer recruitment, but I think that' all wrong, that it's pointing in the wrong direction...

"Volunteer recruitment" is a focus on the clinic - what volunteers do we need, how do we get them, how do we keep them. This is backwards; the focus needs to be on the volunteer.

I would argue that the correct perspective is not on volunteer recruitment but on volunteer ENGAGEMENT. What does that mean? Where I'm getting at is looking at it from the volunteer's angle - why does a retired doc or nurse what to volunteer? What's in it for them - a sense of purpose, a giving back to the community, a desire to practice medicine "the way it used to be" - what is it? What drives them?

Then, design everything you do around meeting the needs of the volunteer, not around the clinic. Let the Executive Director become the Engagement Director, the Volunteer Coordinator become the Volunteer Engager, the CEO become the Chief Engagement Officer. I contend that in the long run you will be much more successful.


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