Perhaps you've heard of him. His name is Reed Sandridge, and in December of 2009, after getting laid off during the great recession, he decided to give a different person in need $10 every day - for an entire year. For more about him check out his blog which is interesting and insightful. I have an amazing story about how Reed also tried to give his time, but more on that in a second. How did I, Reed Dewey meet another Reed you might be thinking. We both attended the 2011 National Conference on Volunteering last summer in New Orleans. There were 4,000 people in the darkened opening session that had already begun, so I grabbed a seat sort of near the back then in a few seats. In a whisper I said to the fellow next to me, "Hi, I'm Reed" and so we connected.
Now fast forward to February and Reed and I finally got together for coffee. He's a very genuine guy who's a great communicator and is focusing his time to writing a book about his year of giving and helping nonprofits and companies better tell their stories.
After the year of giving was up, Reed decided to do a year of volunteering (once a week) with 52 different nonprofits in Washington, DC. Here's the interesting thing... only a handful of these organizations ever asked him more about himself and why he was volunteering. For all these nonprofits knew, this man might have been willing to volunteer many hours or give them a large contributions down the road.
What an opportunity lost for many of these groups. I've done my fair share of nonprofit work over the years and I know how staff get really busy, but it strikes me as short-sighted to ignore someone who's willing to volunteer 3+ hours of their time while someone who gives $30 can't get off a mailing list.
What do you think about this? Should nonprofit staffers take more time to invest in getting to know those who volunteer - even if for one time? What advice would you give to charities about how to better engage those people who volunteer occasionally?