How to handle difficult volunteers?
Most people say that you can’t do anything.
But that’s wrong!
The best way to handle conflict is by being direct.
Every community struggles because members are unwilling to have difficult conversations upfront or take meaningful action. Effective community builders ensure a healthy and productive environment. One where everyone is bought into the mission.
In today’s blog, we will talk about:
- How Do You Handle Churn At AJVC?
- Struggles Of TPF In The Initial Days
- How To Let Go Of Non-responsive Volunteers?
… So let’s get reading!
But before we dive deeper, if you are into community building and looking to build a volunteer program, then check out LikeMinds right now! Our platform offers great inbuilt features that will make it super easy for you to scale your community.
How Do You Handle Churn At AJVC?
Raj shares a small anecdote, “Once when we wanted to formally kick off the AJVC fellows program, that’s when we had created a general tweet and a LinkedIn post. And we got so many applications and we got them from Sudan, Tanzania, etc. So, we got bombarded with applications in our inbox. The problem of branding was never there.”
However, three main buckets lead to volunteers getting disengaged over time:
- The amount of time commitment which they thought they would be able to give and the actual demand when they join doesn’t match.
- Talking about the social capital, everybody who comes in, they have some expectations, but that’s not what happens in reality.
- A lot of people come in just to add it as a resume pointer. They need to carry the brand name when going to talk to an interviewer.
Now, there are solutions for the first bucket. So, the first bucket of problems where time commitment could be an issue is solvable. And if somebody is doing a fantastic job, AJVC decides to lend that volunteer with a few more helping hands. It is a win-win situation for both parties. On one hand, AJVC gets to have more volunteers, and on the other hand, the volunteer can also continue what they genuinely love to do.
The other two problems, to be famous in the next six months, or add volunteering as a resume pointer, cannot be solved. So, AJVC always tries and dip out all such categories the moment they get applications. However, priorities change over time. It works out sometimes and then it doesn’t.
Struggles Of TheProductFolks In The Initial Days
Suhas tells us, “I feel many communities should start that way, and probably we didn’t do it right. Now in the hindsight, I think it’s a great playbook if I were to share this with someone. Build some amount of audience before jumping into communities. It’s very difficult to kickstart communities otherwise and it takes much longer.”
Initial days, it was pretty hard for TPF to build a brand. Suhas feels that it gets easier with time. For example, Headstart was pretty old even by the time TPF started. So, when you are well known, things change for the best. Some amount of luck played a role for sure, in getting some very interesting folks to join in the early days.
They were having city chapters and they were leading. Suhas further adds, “Will I be able to do that again? Do I have a playbook? Maybe, maybe not. But I can replicate, that I can tell you for sure. If you can find a similar set of people, I think that is a lot more important in the journey.”
- The volunteers don’t have to know everything for sure, but if they have some amount of enthusiasm, that is important too.
- Second plus would be to have some amount of audience initially. Things become easier if you have some amount of awareness.
- Building an audience and building a community are two different things – both important. But one can be layered over the other.
- Creating Incentives For Volunteer Based Communities
- How To Market Your Community Even Before Launching It?
Letting Go Of Non-responsive Volunteers
At TPF, things are simple. It’s completely fine if you’re volunteering for three weeks, one month, three months, six months, or even one year. They understand that priorities change. Two years later, one might get married. You won’t even know, you can’t predict this kind of thing.
So, for them, it’s just about letting go. However, volunteers also keep coming back to them. There are people, who got busy, and then three months down the line, TPF gets a message saying, “Is there anything I can pick up?”. So, that is something they are very open to.
But it is important to let some people go too. You will figure out the process as it goes. Initially, it’s hard and challenging. It is not easy but at the same time, Suhas adds, “I feel like, once I get through those first six-eight-ten months’ period, the new audience must get funneled down to a great community.”
TPF did not build its highly engaging community in six months. It took Headstart 14 years, the relationship, the brand, the community, the effort, the number of hours they have put in, there is no shortcut to that kind of success. So, one can accelerate this process, it’s not impossible, but no one can do what they have done over 14 years in 14 days, or even 14 weeks.
Even after 14 months, you will only achieve some part of it. So, have patience and there’s no other alternative. It is not a brand or d2c performance marketing campaign where you throw money and buy followers, or get 100-1000 members in your community. That’s not going to work.
If you are a d2c brand, sell it that way. Figure out which game you’re playing. In the communities, it is going to take some time but you will have long-term rewards on this. Suhas suggested exploring web3 because there are million-dollar treasuries included.
Till today, there wasn’t an easy way to align these two. In his words, “I would love for my volunteers to become wealthy for all the efforts they are putting. They are creating value. If startups can create value and have 14 billion-dollar valuations, then why not! There is a potential here and it will come down to the execution. So, input is in our hands and we will do our best that way. Maybe we don’t become that big but there’s an opportunity and we’d love to try it out.”
On that note, we run a community called ‘CommunityHood’, which is an independent community with 450+ community members already a part of it! If you want to learn from the experience of leading community builders themselves or feel you can help other community builders in upskilling themselves, then join ‘CommunityHood’ now.