General Best Practices

Create clear roles and duties – volunteer job descriptions

Simple job descriptions can make the volunteer leader’s role understandable and manageable. This allows the leader to succeed.

Determine how often your leadership team needs to meet

This could be monthly, quarterly or bi-annually, depending on how frequently you host engagement opportunities. As a leadership team, you all should decide the frequency of your meetings and when/where they take place. WMAA staff can provide Zoom Meeting links for virtual meetings.

Take notes at your leadership meetings

Notes are a great way to keep up with action items and make sure your leadership team is staying organized. This can be a formal role on the team, or just jotting down some bullets for what the group discussed.

Address inactive volunteer leaders

Life happens and sometimes volunteer leaders cannot fulfill their duties. This is OK and should not reflect negatively on them. However, honor the need for active and committed leaders and have this conversation as soon as possible. Find a graceful way out — consider a leave of absence or acknowledge that the timing was not right. Encourage participation in activities as occasionally former leaders are embarrassed to attend future engagement opportunities.

Search for your successor right away

Begin planning and identifying new potential leaders as soon as you become a leader. The best volunteer leadership teams are diverse in all aspects, so begin observing who is active and attending many engagement opportunities. Could they be a leader of a committee or special engagement opportunity?

Don’t try to do every job yourself

Sometimes it’s easier to do things yourself than to recruit helpers to whom you can delegate. This can be a self-fulfilling prophecy; “no one else can do it like me,” and so no one will. This also sends the message that a leader has to do all the work alone, which will discourage volunteers.

Recognize outgoing leaders and be a mentor to newcomers

Remember to thank and recognize outgoing leaders for their service. Former leaders can now enjoy the fruits of their leadership as a participant. Remember to be a mentor to your successor and provide information, advice and encouragement.

Connect with your W&M staff liaison

Staff are here to support you and the leadership team. Be sure to reach out to your staff liaison to ask for assistance in building a successful leadership team!