by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President
“Let’s get the volunteers to do it. That will save a bundle!”
Volunteers are often seen as a supply of labor for almost any task or for the implementation of an action item. Leaders - board members and directors alike - often assume that volunteers are the least expensive option available. Think again.
Many moons ago, our pregnancy help center utilized a team of volunteers to accomplish the bulk mailing of our newsletters and appeals. Trays of printed material and envelopes along with stickers and labels were distributed. Presto, some two weeks later the mailing had been delivered.
Upon closer inspection, we realized that, in addition to the volunteer time, two staff members had spent ten work hours (a total of twenty staff hours) each mailing cycle to coordinate the assembly, distribution, and postal paperwork for this process. A local mailing service (also known as a fulfillment house) that had more sophisticated equipment could lower the postal rate and turn the same task around in three working days as opposed to two weeks. Cost comparisons revealed that, for just a few dollars more, we could improve our process, tighten our turn around, and release several volunteers to more personally rewarding tasks.
All leaders recognize the scarcity of resources to accomplish the mission and achieve the vision. The good leader continually evaluates how to allocate the limited resources available for maximum return on the investment for the ministry and those involved.
Adapted from DIRECT Well™, Heartbeat International’s manual for directors.