A nonprofit operates or doesn’t based on their executive director. In many cases, the ED is the nonprofit.
There is rarely a deputy making the ED the only one managing the operations. Their morals and ethical values reflect directly onto the non-profit.
Everything runs based on their personality, style of management, and ability to solve problems. Also, the attitude of the staff will mostly reflect the attitude of the ED. Just like leadership in any organizations, small or large.
To write grants, it is important to know the ED because they are the “face” of the nonprofit. It is the ED carrying the nonprofit’s message to the public. They are the person that donors, foundations, media, and others recognize when talking about the nonprofit.
There are other people involved in the nonprofit who can influence operations. Such as the board president (ED’s boss) and other board members. However, they are not usually involved in daily, routine operations.
A grant writer should first have the same values as the ED, but also understand the influence that can be exerted from others.
A volunteer’s time and services are the same as money. Nonprofits should look for volunteers as much as they look for grants and donations.
It’s hard managing volunteers who can walk away at any time for no reason. A lot of nonprofit people do not talk to the volunteers and never know why they are there. Like the grant writer, I think one of the critical positions in a nonprofit is the volunteer coordinator.
The coordinator should know the nonprofit’s needs, know where to find volunteers, and be able to ask people to volunteer. When the volunteers show up, the coordinator should remember what they provided and what they liked by talking to them.
The executive director and staff should meet and greet the volunteers when they are volunteering. And, more than once. It’s important to know what will keep the volunteers from running away. Such as not to demand more services than they want to give. Nonprofit managers and staff don’t know what too much is unless they talk to the volunteers.
Make volunteering a benefit to the volunteer. Give them something in return for their services. Sometimes this is easy when a person needs to do community service, their company gives benefits for volunteering, or a person needs to update their resume. Other than these reasons, really, why do people volunteer?
I ask myself that all the time. Like many people, I don’t know the answer. Yes, people say they want to give back to the community or help the nonprofit that helped them. But, it’s not that easy. Nonprofit managers and staff should not bother looking for reasons. Just be thankful for the volunteer and say hello.