Mickey speaks with Kate West, CEO of Your Fundraising Lab, and David Somerfleck, Founder and CEO of DMS Blue about the wisdom of using volunteers to staff critical organizational roles. Kate maintains volunteer-led organizations cannot grow or scale. Among the points we cover:
1. Nonprofits need to distinguish between volunteers and unpaid staff and/or pro bono services for many reasons. Volunteers don’t work in their area of expertise, but do tasks that anyone could do or that the nonprofit has to train them to do. This can be very valuable to a nonprofit, but volunteers are not considered to be as reliable, loyal or expert as staff (paid or unpaid).
2. As an exercise, nonprofits could/should develop a budget that lists realistic salaries and fringe benefits for staff (whether paid or unpaid) and then offset these expenses with in-kind contributions as income. This will help the board and donors (and staff) see the value of unpaid staff contributions.
3. It’s difficult to institutionalize volunteer-led organizations.
4. When volunteers inhabit formal roles in organizations, corners are often cut including the development of job descriptions, personnel policies and other structures that guide professional conduct and development. Unless it’s somebody’s role to develop these critical instruments, they are often remain unrealized.