Article contributed by Virginia Molina, District Director of the Cascade Pacific Council
Thanks to technology, people remain more connected through phone calls, texts, and emails than ever before. For those of us who serve rural areas, we can use these tools to engage our volunteers and provide great service. In doing so, we keep our outlying areas feeling recognized, validated, and in-touch with district and council activities. Though we may not see some of our more geographically removed volunteers on a day-to-day basis, we can use technology to remain relevant.
Outlying areas may not be in the heart of the council, but we can easily make them feel like they are through information sharing and dedicating our time and attention to them. Information sharing is all about keeping people connected – connected to ideas, solutions, and resources; the more we can do that for our volunteers, the more they see us as someone who creates value. A professional in Scouting relies on relationship building – we create cachet with our volunteers – and leveraging those good relationships to help us achieve our goals; be it within membership, fund development, or volunteer recruitment. Our positive relationships with our volunteers are tantamount to our success as professionals.
Become a Friend
Some of the best relationships we have in our lives are with people we share common ground with, people we care about and that care about us, and people that we are in contact with weekly, if not daily. Our volunteers are no different. Share information, show genuine interest in what the district volunteers care about, listen to what their struggles are and what their needs are, then share tools that will help them manage the issues they face within their units, recruitment efforts, and fundraising efforts. Provide aide to what ails them; be a person of your word and follow through with what you promise!
Communication isn’t rocket science, it’s a social science! Distance can easily make someone feel left out, so find ways to continuously tie them in. Communicate often. Sending out a weekly e-newsletter with valuable information for upcoming events and up-to-date tracking on current campaigns can help people feel connected to the bigger picture. It keeps them regularly informed, and they appreciate the inclusion.
Be active on social media – post daily and give shout outs to successes in the district. This helps to create a team environment and keeps everyone together on the happenings within the district and council. Extend your messages to all registered adults; don’t simply rely on the main leaders to disseminate the information. Spread your messaging to as many people as possible in a continuous and uniform practice. Engage people at every avenue – whether it be through social media, e-mail, or on the phone and in person. Just as we have varying preferences and aversions, so do our volunteers. It’s important to provide a varied menu of communication so that people can give and receive information how they like best.
Finally, stay consistent and make good on your deliverables. Relationships are built on trust, and building trust takes time, so you have to be consistent with your efforts. Set the precedent, live up to the expectations you set for yourself, and hold your volunteers to the same standards. Be reliable, and stay connected!
Scouting Wire would like to thank Virginia for submitting this article.