About Jerome Tennille

Jerome Tennille is Certified in Volunteer Administration, currently serving as the Manager of Volunteer Services at Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. With over four years in the nonprofit industry, he’s also on the Board of Directors for Peace Through Action USA, a national nonprofit social purpose organization missioned to achieve peace between people and their communities in the United Sates.

Increased Board Performance Through Diversity

Nonprofit Board Resources - Increased Board Performance Through DiversityWhen non-profit boards underperform against the expectations given, it’s a natural reaction for those in charge to want to terminate board members who sandbag.  But there’s no quick fix for turning around inactive or ineffective boards, so the planning of board member selection needs to be done strategically with deliberate action of injecting cultural and professional diversity.  It’s through diversity that you can increase board performance from the beginning.

Here in the United States, nonprofit organizations are required by law to have a board of directors for the governance of their operations.  Individual states set the requirements that dictate a minimum number of members needed, their duties and responsibilities to the public, and policies they’re mandated to draft.  But depending on the state in question, this may differ.  While forming an organization and acquiring tax exempt status is an arduous task, establishing an effective board of directors remains even more challenging for many.  I’ve seen this first hand.  Someone with a great idea wants to satisfy a need in society, so he or she hastily forms a nonprofit organization to fill that void, oftentimes overlooking program longevity.  The founders of these startup nonprofits recruit board members from their immediate circle of influence including their friends, family, or acquaintances to satisfy those pesky legal requirements.  These are people they trust, which adds a certain amount of comfort in bringing them on board, but over time, what seemed like a great idea turns into a nightmare with challenges around fundraising, recruiting volunteers, managing finances, appointing a CEO, developing programs, and the list goes on.  The board has passion and wants to support.  After all, this is their friend.  But what went wrong?  The answer is simple, what the board of directors lacks in professional know-how, business sense, and social capital, cannot be made up through any amount of passion alone.

What I’m about to say here isn’t new, nor will it shock you, but most people surround themselves with others like them.  While this isn’t a bad thing, and even though these friends (the newly appointed board) are well intentioned, there’s an increased likelihood these “friends turned board members” have similar values, points of views, and perspectives.  The board likely has cohesion, and while not always the case, there’s a possibility that this can result in social behaviors like groupthink.  This is when decision making becomes impaired by cognitive inhibitors due in part to lack of openness and perspective.  The appointing of the board of directors has greater implications on the tone, culture, and overall performance of the non-profit they govern.  Forming the board is one of the first steps in founding a non-profit organization, and it’s also the most important.  Forming the board needs to be done through diversity, because in the end it affects performance.

Strength through diversity

Josefa Iloilo, the former President of the Republic of Fiji once said, “We need to reach that happy stage of our development when differences and diversity are not seen as sources of division and distrust, but of strength and inspiration.”  While this was said in the context of diversity as a sovereign nation, the same can be applied to any workplace, volunteer corps, and board of directors.  There’s a certain agility that comes from having ethnic, gender, and professional diversity.  Having diversity creates a permissive environment for shared openness, different perspectives, a wide array of professional expertise, and social capital.  Pew Research Center projects the disappearance of a single racial or ethnic majority in the United States by 2055, so with a more diverse America, a board that can think and act through the lens of the communities they serve provides advantages.  This is the bottom line; having a diverse board creates an environment where creativity and innovation flourishes.

Why diversity matters in the long run

It’s always the easy choice for organizations to recruit board members from their pool of members and associates (and even friends and family).  However, it’s not always the best idea.  The board has a primary function of ensuring the organization fulfills its commitment and responsibility to the public as stated through their mission, code of ethics, and charter.  They achieve this through a check and balance system where accountability plays a vital role.  Diverse thought and experience will benefit the board when creating policies around whistleblowers, conflicts of interest, and financial auditing and management because diverse groups are likelier to have stronger accountability measures.

Another function of the board is resource acquisition.  When acquiring resources for longevity of organizational success, you also increase the avenues in which you look for support, thus increasing one’s networks.  Some of the resources in question may include human capital or be related to finances, but through diversity, acquiring said resources can be accomplished with social capital.  This can include the board’s access to personal and professional contacts that have the necessary resources for the organization.  A diverse board will be able to satisfy the acquisition of resources through their reputation or credibility (this is mostly true with members who have high visibility).  High visibility board members can create a sense of “legitimacy” to the organization’s stakeholders and the public.

More importantly for organizations that are focused on social reform and advocacy work, there’s also the consideration of board members who have political clout.  Political capital that exists amongst the board (think connections with local, state or federal governance) can work wonders when advocating or trying to change legislation that impacts those you serve.  Diversity can also assist in setting the organization apart from others.  There’s an added benefit of being held in higher esteem by the public versus organizations that aren’t diverse.  Boards that are diverse are adhering to social norms and acceptance, sometimes resulting in garnering more support.

Tips to increase diversity

Whether your board is already formed, or you’re starting from scratch, it’s not too late.  Try some of these practices to develop a board that’s inclusive and starting off on the right foot.

  • Implement and enforce board terms and term limits.  Have a set number of years per term, and also limit members to a set number of terms.  This forces selection of “new blood.”  With the introduction of new members comes new ideas, different perspective, skills, and access to resources that can be acquired through a member’s social capital.
  • Avoid generalized screening methods.  Implement a process that screens for particular skills and expertise in areas where you have requirements.  With a more stringent vetting process, you weed out those who may be well intentioned, but lack management skills or those who may be incompetent.  This results in onboarding of members who exercise critical thinking and sound decision making and who work effectively.
  • Provide diversity training.  Invest time and money into training your board of directors like you would for other volunteers or paid staff.  Like skills training, other forms of training will benefit the governing board.  Even though the effectiveness of diversity training is largely debated, there’s evidence that training helps create empathy, reducing discriminatory behavior.  Training alone isn’t the cure, but it’s a great step towards minimizing discriminatory behavior that negatively impacts the board’s satisfaction.
  • Include others in a diversity strategy.  Diversity means inclusion, so take an inclusive approach, allowing others to be part of a holistic strategy beyond a single person or decision maker.  This can take the form of working closer with cultural centers, community partners, and other reputable nonprofits who specialize in diversity and inclusion.  By working with partners who may be subject matter experts, you can increase immersion into the cultures you’re trying to better understand and serve.

Diversity isn’t the “end all,” it’s just the start

While diversity in and of itself won’t lead to success, this is a great start.  By implementing a selection process, adopting governance policy, and investing in workforce training, you take necessary measures to set up the board for success.  These steps will encourage and foster an environment of inclusion for the organization’s other aspects.  The impact will transcend staff, even increasing diversity in the volunteer corps.  Boards with cultural, ethnic, gender, and professional diversity tend to have a more diverse leadership cadre, resulting in diversified resources.  Just be sure to err on the side of caution, don’t get overzealous and select polar opposites; this may create the perfect environment for conflict.  Doing so could act as a pitfall if not navigated in a thoughtful manner, but when done correctly will increase the likelihood of success from the onset.  Diversity in nonprofit governance will continue to be a sought after “must have,” and not just for the obvious reasons of cultural and societal norms.  Diversity also impacts long term performance of an organization, so get ahead of the curve and plan for the future today.

Employing a Social Media Strategy to Supplement Volunteer Recruitment

Nonprofit Social Media StrategyWith the expectation of immediacy in the digital age, it’s no surprise over 75% of American adults use social media.  As millions connect daily, social media has become cross-generational and a part of everyday life; those same millions using it to gather daily news and connect with social causes.  If harnessed correctly, social media can be the perfect medium for any non-profit organizations volunteer recruitment arsenal.  Like most things though, having a well laid plan is necessary, otherwise much of what social media has to offer will be squandered.  Considering the amount of technoliteracy required, simply charging the Millennial to post content on social media isn’t a strategy.  Adversely, being of an elder generation isn’t an excuse for not having a strategy either.

Volunteer administrators are tasked with recruiting, training, staffing, and acknowledging volunteers.  At many non-profit organizations, the function of recruitment is reactionary, with volunteer administrators responding to emails, answering phone calls and arranging meetings.  Employing social media allows those recruiting, to be proactive by opening new doors, enlarging the organization’s social network, and increasing the likelihood of onboarding new volunteers.  Keep in mind though, every detail from the content, channels you post on, when and how often you post needs to be intentional with a designed purpose.

Understanding the purpose is first determined by knowing the ‘why’ of the social media strategy.  Whether the goal of the strategy is to generate support for an event or to create a virtual community among volunteers, knowing this goal will shape ‘how’ it’s accomplished.  The ‘why’ in this particular case is converting virtual followers into volunteers.  For those just starting out, focus on one goal at a time to maximize results before implementing more advanced practices.  Focusing on more than one campaign can diminish your social return on investment (ROI), conversion rate of followers to volunteers and your message consistency.  Because this process needs to be Inclusive to other programs within the organization you’ll want to avoid creating a strategy on your own.

Start by conducting an audit to set a benchmark:

Using publicly available data, measure your current social media metrics and set a standard.  But don’t stop there, compare your metrics against likeminded organizations.  Include your information technology (IT), webmaster, and communications staff in the conversation.  Social media engagement needs to be cross-functional to successfully engage the many social circles that exist. As a collaborative group, create guidelines to measure ROI.  Be sure to consider the following;

  • Measure website traffic.  Work with your webmaster and determine current traffic rate before implementing the strategy.  Continually measure the change in traffic as time progresses.  Websites with a social media presence experience nearly 55% more traffic than those without.  
  • Followership and social reach.  Determine current rate of new followers per month.  This only works by having authentic followers (not bought and paid for) on social media.  Over time, monitor this to see if there’s an uptick in followers.  Building a network of authentic followers will create a community around your organization’s brand.  Followers connected to your organization will advocate, share, repost and comment on your content.
  • Frequency of posts.  Each social media channel has an optimum posting frequency rate.  Measure your efforts against current industry standards, using that as a starting point.  Identify what works best, readjusting frequency as needed based on audience feedback.  Finding the optimum post rate will allow for increased visibility of content, while mitigating risk of ‘content shock,’ or audience fatigue from over posting.  
  • Social media is about interaction.  Go beyond ‘numbers’ and dissect the feedback you receive.  Be cognizant of language used by the audience when engaging and compare this over time to quantify effectiveness.  What you say about your organization may (or may not) be what others are sharing through their social networks.  Keeping interaction conversational with followers will humanize your organization’s virtual presence, creating authenticity and trust.  It will also allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s being shared about the organization.

After the audit, plan the deliberate outreach to the targeted audience:

When focusing on volunteers (current and potential) you’ll want to research and understand the population you’re trying to convert.  Pay attention to their demographics and where they reside on the social web.  Different populations have a tendency to use certain social media channels.  Conduct research and seek out the populations you desire.

  • Collect demographics.  Send surveys and conduct deep dive of publicly available information about current and potential volunteers.  Gather age, gender, location, education, profession, and their sources for news.  Collecting data will allow you to segment your outreach and better understand your audience, resulting in stronger virtual connections.
  • Use analytic tools.   Monitor click rates and capitalize on how people engage.  Consider using Google analytics (similar applications) or paid ads that allow you to track and analyze data.  Adopting analytic applications will let you quantify and assess the degree in which your audience engages.  This allows you to see what resonates with your audience and hone in on what works.  

Creating content with consistent branding:

While consistent messaging is important, also consider the way it’s reinterpreted by the audience.  Social media is largely ‘social,’ so focus on making the virtual connection.  Be sure the recruitment strategy is on message with the overall strategic plan of the organization.  Content and logo use should be within the branding and style guidelines that exist, but may need to be modified, allowing engagement to be conversational.  Consider color schemes, images, videos and nomenclature.  Add keywords for search engine optimization (SEO).  Tone and voice should be such that it reaches the broadest audience while being relevant and engaging.  Using images and videos will keep your message brief, concise, and visually stimulating, keeping your audience captivated.

Employ an editorial calendar and a dashboard:

Use an editorial calendar to plan content that’ll be used on social media and traditional marketing channels.  Plan the types of posts, who’s assigned to content creation, due dates and when to publish.  Coordinating content, will ensure material is regularly posted for your audience.  Be sure content creation and editing are congruent with current organizational branding and style guidelines.  Here’s a great editorial calendar template by CoSchedule.com that can be used as a starting point.

After you set up an editorial calendar, save yourself a tremendous amount of time and schedule your posts in advance using a dashboard.  The employment of a dashboard will allow you to schedule posts on multiple channels simultaneously, collaborate with other team members, analyze results (usually a paid feature), and simultaneously track several campaigns.  Research the use of dashboards carefully, as some allow integration between Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook, but some do not.

Social media should be used to augment (not replace) traditional means of marketing and outreach.  Don’t forget incorporating social media into existing marketing tools.  Integrating social media into your website, publications, email newsletters, events and promotional booths will bring your social media presence outside the social web.

Adopt staffing roles and shared responsibilities:

Because social media takes place 24/7, managing interaction will present challenges.  Unless there’s full-time staff whose job is to manage social media, you’ll need the support from others who can commit time to monitoring engagement.  Achieve this by assembling a team that can dedicate time to posting and interacting with followers.  Ensure team members have visibility of what the others are doing.  Create an environment that encourages information sharing to prevent duplication of effort, while facilitating true collaboration.  Until your organization can determine significant ROI of your social media strategy, responsibilities of social media management will be a team effort.  In the meantime, the team can work on attaining buy-in through shared management.  Sum the hours of shared responsibilities, painting a picture of how much dedicated time is necessary to do this successfully.  Only after there’s buy-in from leadership will a dedicated staff member be considered to manage social media.

Initiating engagement and listening to feedback:

Be social.  Interact with followers who post and share your content.  Like the act of volunteering, the virtual connection should focus on the experience through virtual engagement.  Be deliberate with your message while being conversational.  Assign a real person (not an auto responder) who can reply promptly while using discretion.  Below are some tips to do to this effectively.

  • Transcend formal discussion.  Conversational engagement will humanize the organization’s web presence.  Go the extra mile and nurture back and forth dialogue that’s honest, authentic and transparent.  This will create an intimate and positive conversation, keeping your followers engaged and enthusiastic.
  • Capitalize on the engagement.  Create chat sessions, Facebook groups and hashtags that allow followers to provide feedback, advice and commentary.  Both successes and failures exhibited by the organization will be noticeable based on what people share through their social media.  By creating and owning these outlets, you can post content to drive conversation in a direction advantageous to your goals.
  • Post in real-time.  Take advantage of social media and post updates in real time while at events where volunteers are serving.  Like a conversation between two people, volunteers will document and record their good (and bad) experiences, sharing them through virtual conversations.  If those you’re engaging have a good experience, the conversation that follows will take care of itself.
  • Properly tagging others.  ‘Tagged’ followers often times receive an alert notifying them of engagement and will in turn respond, creating conversation.  By tagging others, you allow the conversation to be tracked.  If it’s not tracked, you lose an ability to analyze the data using third party applications.
  • Listen and continue cycle:  Follow the conversation and analyze engagement through the entire lifecycle of the strategy.  Use the data to periodically audit the process, making adjustments as needed.  Feedback from engagement will contribute back into the process of auditing, setting new benchmarks, targeting and segmenting the audience, generating future content, staying in tune with supporters and strengthening the virtual relationships.

For many including myself, it’s hard to remember a life without instant access to the digital world.  But in the grand scheme of things, social media is relatively young in age when compared to other marketing tools.  There’s a reason traditional marketing tools have stood the test of time.  While social media isn’t a ‘fix’ or something to be solely relied on, it’s one of the fastest growing social circles for collaboration with an estimated 20 million new users projected over the next five years.  For non-profit organizations that have a limited advertising budget, little visibility and few staff, social media can offer an outlet that levels the playing field against the 1.5 million other organizations competing for the same attention from volunteers.  Like starting anything from the bottom, it takes dedicated time (give it an hour a day), deliberate action, fine tuning and most importantly, patience.  As your audience grows, so will your conversion rate of authentic followers to volunteers.


Volunteers as Customers: New Take on Age Old Ideas for Volunteer Management

Volunteer Management TipsCustomer service isn’t a new concept in the for-profit industry.  It’s commonplace for businesses with paying customers to have a robust customer service management process in place, and they should, considering their customers keep their doors open.  Through the use of customer service management software, consumer research and marketing data, for-profit companies can better attract customers, understand their needs, appeal to their desires and provide wonderful service when needed.  It’s pretty black and white determining who the customer is at a for-profit company, but what about identifying the customer of a nonprofit organization?  Is the customer the population the organization serves, or is the customer those who give their time (volunteers) and money (donors)?  The argument can be made that they’re both a customer, both being a different type of customer.  Regardless, whether you’re being served by the nonprofits mission, or providing your time and money as a supporter, you’re receiving something in return which is a resulting experience.

Exploring volunteer management through the lens of the volunteer as the customer isn’t a new concept, but it’s one that gets a lot of push back.  It’s a concept that is often unrecognized, polarizing, even ignored in some circles.  As it relates to volunteer management, try taking a “volunteers as customer” approach.  Making this distinction by giving the title of “client” to the population the organization serves through its mission, and “customer” to the volunteer who serves.    This being said, nonprofit organizations or volunteer administrators who take a “volunteers as customer” approach to volunteer management, spend more time differentiating between their “clients” and “customers” as they’re different people.  But It’s when you come to the realization that they’re different, you begin to understand that the customers aren’t always the people you serve, and you begin to view volunteer management through a new lens that allows you to have greater appreciation for their service.

Applying the concept:  From a revenue generating model, to the nonprofit model.

At a company or business whose goal is increased revenue, the customer purchases a product or service, and the money they spend is received by that company or business as a monetary profit.  Because of the way a revenue generating business is structured, they’re designed to generate a profit that benefits the stakeholder or shareholders, often times in the form of dividends.

Now, let’s apply the same concept to a nonprofit, but in this case when we refer to the customer, we’ll substitute that word for the title volunteer.  At a nonprofit organization, the volunteer gives their time in exchange for advancing the mission or cause of the organization they support.  The organization as a nonprofit is in the business of providing a good or service, and as a result, the community or population the nonprofit serves receives that good or service.

Volunteers give something to the organization just like a paying customer, and what they give, is also just as precious as the donation of money.  Whether pro bono publico or an episodic one time service project, that volunteer will essentially give something they’ll never get back, and it needs to be handled with the same delicacy as a financial contribution.  Because of this, there are severe consequences if the volunteer as a customer has a bad experience, and, if the experience is great, it’ll pay huge dividends later.

Implications of bad customer service.

Thinking about customers being those that exchange money for services, it is important to keep in mind:

  • An estimated 9 out of 10 customers will talk about that bad experience, with over 50% of them talking about that same bad experience all the time.  So, on average, each will tell 21 people.
  • 6 out of 10 customers who have the intention to complete a purchase won’t follow through on a purchase solely because of poor customer service.

The positive impact of great customer service.

I believe volunteer recruitment goes beyond conducting outreach, and largely relying on word-of-mouth, by volunteers who continue to advocate for getting involved with the organization.  When volunteers receive great customer service that results in a good experience, the below statistics can have a tremendous impact on recruitment.

  • Nearly 50% of all people are likely to try a new product or company because of a recommendation by a friend or family member based on a positive review.
  • The influence of a positive customer review by friend or family member has a higher degree of impact than any sale or promotion.

Let’s imagine those customers were volunteers who came to the non-profit organization to give of their time.  Viewing volunteers as customers, using these statistics, it’s eye opening.  It makes you think about the volunteer’s experience and the implications if that experience is less than desirable.  In addition, when it comes to future donations, volunteers are 10 times more likely to give a donation to a non-profit than someone who doesn’t volunteer.

If you’re thinking that these statistics only ring true to paying customers at a for-profit business, think again.  A recent 2013 study by Journal of Extension, concludes that decision making when it comes to volunteering has, similar behaviors and motivations to those who are making the decision to make a purchases.  Most of these behaviors centering around the two primary categories of brand loyalty and satisfaction.  Similarly, a Fidelity survey indicates that nearly 50% of people agree that the volunteers of today have a different motivation than other generations.  Most of these motivations stem from their experience volunteering, versus what they actually accomplish as a volunteer.  Having a great experience as a volunteer plays a vital role.  It leads to a volunteer either being retained, or moving onto the next organization.  Worst case scenario, tell more than twenty people about their bad experience.  It’s important to recognize that volunteers are essentially “customers” of volunteer opportunities.  The volunteer opportunities are what the volunteer is seeking and ultimately shopping for.  When you take the stance of the volunteer being the customer, the above statistics are revealing.

Applying essential elements of customer service to apply.

Here are some of the essential elements of customer service and some measures that can be put in place to address each.

This is a list of 9 customer service musts that have a unique impact on what a customer thinks or feels about a brand.  I will hit on each of these from the perspective of volunteer management.

  • Well-Designed Website:  A well-designed website aids in getting information about volunteer opportunities, calendar of events, how they can register or apply, or contact a lead staff member to get more detailed information.  As a result, potential volunteers can easily navigate the website, find needed information and apply to be a volunteer.  The fewer steps it takes to apply or register, the better.
  • Ease of Access:  The easier opportunities are to volunteer for (accessibility of location, and scheduled date), the likelier it is that a volunteer will commit.  Try scheduling opportunities on dates and times that volunteers have off from work, and host the opportunity at a location that’s easy to transit to.  You’re likely to have a higher turnout because it’ll be convenient and less of a burden for the volunteer.
  • Responsiveness:  Timely replies to email inquiries and returning missed calls in a timely fashion are key.  It’s important to strike while the iron is hot and their enthusiasm is high.  This will help with the urgency in which volunteers react to your call to action.
  • Equipped and Trained Staff:  The worst thing to fall victim to is wasting the volunteers’ time by not being properly equipped.  Hurrying up only to wait is unacceptable and is one of the biggest points of negative feedback given by volunteers to nonprofits.  Simply not being organized.  Get ahead of this curve by training your staff and preparing in advance.  Properly equipped and trained staff will be empowered to direct volunteers, and provide the necessary guidance to accomplish the tasks assigned.  This will help cast a positive light on the organization and how it’s regarded by volunteers, communicating to them that your events are well planned and efficiently run.
  • Patience Managing Your Volunteers:  While this is a must, this just means that over time, and likely through trial and error, the volunteer administrator or nonprofit organization staff will have to get good at knowing when to cut losses and decide when volunteers are a bad fit.  While I do believe that more can always be done to divert the energy of volunteers into productive outlets, as managers of volunteers, you can fire volunteers.  Being patient will allow enough time for you to determine the return on investment from a volunteer.  It will also help you better assess if certain volunteers are qualified for the job, if more training needs to be conducted, or if it’s time to part ways.  But the bottom line is only time will tell, you cannot rush to judgement here.
  • Openness to Criticism:  nonprofit managers ought to look at each piece of criticism as a chance to change or fix something that is broken.  Do not take these as personal attacks.  Creating a survey that volunteers can respond to, and allowing for feedback in after action reports is crucial to making improvements.  Through these mechanisms you’ll be able to correct deficiencies, but it starts with being open to feedback.
  • Positive Spontaneity and Appreciation:  A verbal “thank you” goes a long way, so I urge folks to not stop there, and be creative about it.  “Thank you” can include letters, cards or annual awards, but can also come through social media such as tweets, Facebook posts, blog posts on the website or even an article in an organization’s publication.  While volunteers won’t often ask to be thanked, kind gestures make all the difference.  It can leave them feeling over joyous about their experience only reinforcing their commitment to your organization.
  • Trustworthiness:  Trust goes both ways.  You’ll need to trust that the customer’s feedback is true, whether it’s about the way they perceived something, an argument with a paid staff member, or receiving poor service.  In the end, the trust you put forth in volunteers will be reflected in the way these situations are handled.  If there’s no trust, it will show, and reflect back in how volunteers treat their commitments to the organization.  
  • Managing Expectations:  I always tell people that the hardest part of managing a network of volunteers is managing personalities and expectations.  The expectation is formed from everything communicated to that volunteer, from the hours you tell that volunteer they’re committing to, to making sure the volunteers time is utilized effectively.  It is important to make sure the service project doesn’t deviate from what was originally communicated.  By properly managing expectation, you double down on trustworthiness, showing consistency which fosters an environment that’s comfortable and “known” to volunteers.

It’s no secret that many successful for-profit companies have entire teams, processes, policies and software packages.  Understanding the stigma that resides around the dreaded “overhead” or administrative costs at nonprofits, you may also claim you can’t possibly afford the same robust customer service packages and personnel needed.  While that’s true in many circles, I’ve learned there are many free and low cost alternatives that can be utilized.

Another thing I’ve learned over the years is that common sense isn’t always common knowledge.  In an industry where volunteers are utilized so often, with approximately 62.8 million Americans volunteering in 2015 alone according to Corporation for National & Community Service data, volunteer management as a profession, and the value placed on volunteerism is still awesomely underrated.  As a result, simple customer service practices are overlooked.  When viewing the volunteer as the customer, I’ve began to understand that human capital is so valuable to the sustainability of a nonprofit.  It offers countless benefits in the long term.  If similar customer service practices found in the for-profit industry are adopted in volunteer management, the return on investment can be seen in increased public engagement and awareness, new opportunities to cultivate support, and ultimately more donations for years to come.  It starts with valuing people first and seeing volunteers as customers who deserve to be a high priority.

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