Sunday, April 19, 2015

Effective Leaders Empower Volunteers

National Volunteer Week is drawing to a close. The average value of a volunteer in America is at it's highest level ever in America. The estimated average value of a volunteer's time is $23.07 per hour with Wisconsin running just slightly under the average at $22.24 per hour.

I am blessed to have  many wonderful volunteers in my life.  Lost Dogs of Wisconsin and Lost Dogs of America are entirely volunteer run.  At Lost Dogs of Wisconsin our volunteers have helped reunite over 600 dogs so far in 2015.  Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals is also made up entirely of volunteers.  Since 2010 we have had helped repeal or reject Breed Discrimination in 15 communities. We also have several other areas of focus and although legislative progress can feel as slow as molasses sometimes, we are still making forward strides.

Look around you. Is your local shelter empowering their volunteers to save lives? How many volunteers are in positions of leadership at your local shelter? How many volunteers go on to become board directors? How many volunteers lead teams of other volunteers?  If your answer is "few" or "none" then your shelter is missing out on a tremendous opportunity.  I can guarantee that there are talented people just waiting to be empowered. If they aren't challenged to use their talents and knowledge to save lives, their focus and energy will soon become frustration and negativity when they see things they would like to fix but aren't empowered to fix them.

It's time to stop worrying about "losing control". It's time to stop micro-managing. It's time to start embracing and empowering your volunteers. A very wise friend once said "Don't worry about losing control.  You never really had it anyways."

Hats off to volunteers everywhere.  You are making a difference. You are making the dream of a No Kill Nation a reality. You are driving the change in America's shelters. You are saving lives.

"One of the first lessons of leadership is that one person cannot do everything.  But everything that needs to be accomplished CAN be accomplished through recruitment, training, and empowering of others. - Stan Toler"

1 comment:

  1. As a volunteer at a kill shelter I experienced firsthand the oppressive, counter-productive leadership culture you describe. I was incredibly fortunate to also experience the dramatic difference a change in leadership could produce. When a new director arrived who freely embraced the volunteers, it was as though the straightjackets we had been forced to wear had been magically removed. We were suddenly viewed as valued colleagues rather than disruptive crazies and the shelter was immediately transformed.