05 October 2012

Volunteers needed?

Most family history societies rely on volunteers, usually a small group out of the society membership - serial volunteers. These are folks who get satisfaction out of contributing. How can societies find and keep more of them?

Often people are happy to volunteer for small, time-limited, roles - especially if asked personally, one-on-one, face-to-face, by someone they respect. General appeals to members, which are easier, are less effective in getting people to commit.

How can you promote someone who accepted a small role to take on something larger?

An article "Regulators of prosocial and empathetic behavior" in Deric Bownds' MindBlog provides insight.

"In field and laboratory experiments, we found that participants who reflected about giving benefits voluntarily contributed more time to their university, and were more likely to donate money to natural-disaster victims, than were participants who reflected about receiving benefits. When it comes to reflection, giving may be more powerful than receiving as a driver of prosocial behavior."
This suggests that next time someone completes, or even before they complete a volunteer task, you ask them how they enjoyed the experience? What did they get out of it? Getting them to reflect on the experience may facilitate them realizing the satisfaction they received as well as the benefits it provided.

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