9 February 2011

Pioneering Volunteers – Part 1

Elizabeth Zambonini
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This may not be the typical blog style, but I thought it would be useful to do a short “blog series” on dealing with staff and volunteers when running a social enterprise.

Often an organisation will start with a visionary, who brings in a few pioneers who share the same vision, and together they build the foundations of the organisation. The Hope Factory started off with no finances and therefore the first “staff” consisted of a “visionary volunteer” (working full time), and 3 “pioneering volunteers” (1 full time and 2 part time).

These “pioneering volunteers” are the first critical step in the success of a new venture. They have to share the vision, they need to be people who are happy to work in chaos, and a state of change, but yet they need to help build solid foundations. On top of all that they are also not being paid, have no status or comfortable work environment, and probably spend as much time doing quite menial tasks, as they do using their talents! These are not easy people to find, sometimes they may be family of friends, or they could be complete strangers that have heard of the cause, and share the same concern.

In the case of The Hope Factory, 10 years ago 3 “pioneering volunteers”, along with the strategic assistance of 2/3 advisors, who gave of their specialist knowledge, built the platform that allowed The Hope Factory to become what it is today. The 3 ladies, Marion, Joan and Judy, brought in much needed skills, along with networks and connections of their own, and at the bottom line, “extra hands” that could be relied upon.

A visionary is important, but to create a sustainable social enterprise these pioneering volunteers are essential!

 

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