I made the mistake in a discussion with a volunteer committee of saying that we did not have a coordinated strategy, and I will not make that mistake again. The result of my misstep was that everyone wanted to define a different approach. The intention of the meeting was to brainstorm ideas and mobilize the committee behind some specific tasks that it should do. But, when we started talking about a strategy, no one wanted to talk about actions and assignments anymore. Instead, they all wanted to set direction.
In the future, I’ve decided that I am going to be very careful with my use of the word “strategy.” Volunteers love to set forth a strategy– especially when they are unsure of themselves in the assignments they are being given. If a volunteer does not understand the actions they have been asked to, such as making a solicitation, using social media, or inviting their friends to a fundraising party, they would much rather talk about a strategy.
Because of my mistake, I have now added an additional step. Instead of getting into the work the committee was set up to do, I first have to prove to the workers that a strategy is already in place. Initially, I had assumed that everyone felt and was on-board with that strategy. Once I’ve brought everyone back to a comfortable place, then I can settle into committee work and accomplishing this strategy in specific tangible ways.
Have you had a volunteer meeting get off-track because of a discussion on strategy? What did you do to fix it? Do you involved volunteers heavily in the process of developing strategy?