Strategies to Engage Your Chapter's Volunteers

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 Learn how to use CCL’s digital tools to motivate, develop, and engage chapter volunteers. Not sure how to ask for help? Find out about proven strategies to delegate tasks and request assistance with chapter activities.
TOC and Guide Section
Helpful Resources on CCL Community

The digital tools described below provide new and efficient ways for Group Leaders to communicate with chapter volunteers, get commitments for monthly actions, build a leadership team, and match volunteer skills with chapter positions. Detailed step-by-step instructions on how to set up and use the tools are presented in the video training.

Virtual Signup Sheet

This is an electronic version of a signup clipboard using a Google Form.

This is a convenient way to help your volunteers select their personal CCL Monthly Actions.  CCL creates a template each month that aligns with our Monthly Action Sheet. You can also modify this template, if desired

You will find a link to the Virtual Signup Sheet at the bottom of the Monthly Action Sheets page (scroll to the bottom). Simply click on the link and follow-on screen instructions to set it up. Options include renaming the file, making a custom link, and adding collaborators.

Share the virtual signup sheet with volunteers in your monthly meetings, whether in person or on zoom. You can share it with a QR code you create and/or with the link that Google creates for you. You can email it to volunteers who miss the meetings. After volunteers have selected their actions, the responses are saved in a spreadsheet for you. You can add notes and reminders. Use it  during the month to build your chapter teams, provide resources to your volunteers for their actions, and check up with folks later in the month.

Chapter Organizational Chart

This tool uses a Google application called Jam Board. It mimics putting sticky notes on a flip chart, like you might do when brainstorming in a meeting. The objective of this tool is to help you take an inventory of who is doing what within your chapter, and then answer the question: how do we want to grow our chapter? 

You can find a link to it in CCL Community under Resources > Group Development & Organizing > Chapter Organizational Chart.

This link opens a new page on CCL Community. Select either single chapter or multiple chapter options to make a copy for you to work with. You will see a typical chapter structure with frames representing activities like lobbying Congress, grassroots outreach, or volunteer development. 

Once you've clicked and made your own copy, you can modify the frame titles and chapter team names. Click the frames to drill down to a detailed structure for each activity type. Use the sticky notes tool to create moveable notes that represent teams or people assigned to those roles. 

CCL does not expect your chapter to have volunteers filling every position and role listed in the Jamboard to be successful. Use the tool to conduct an inventory of your current chapter structure and volunteer roles. Then use the inventory to have a conversation with your chapter leadership team about how you want your chapter to grow.

Volunteer Opportunities Email Templates

Use these templates to recruit volunteers for specific roles in your chapter that do not currently have anyone assigned.

You will find a link to them on CCL Community under Resources > Group Development & Organizing > Volunteer Opportunities Email Templates 

The template document has an index of email templates available. There is a template for every possible role in your chapter. Find the one you want and update it with local references - chapter name, city, member of Congress, as needed. We recommend sending the recruiting email to all volunteers in your roster as you can’t predict who might be interested in the opportunity. 

Very few chapters will need to fill all the listed positions. Decide what you need that aligns with  your chapter objectives.  If you need a role that is not listed, contact to request adding it to the templates.

Checking the Action Tracker

Checking your chapter action tracker is another way to identify and recruit volunteers for roles and activities. By seeing what actions volunteers have completed on their own, you can find out about volunteers that you may not have had the chance to meet yet and get in touch to appreciate their actions, as well as propose additional activities for them.

To do this, go to CCL’s Action Tracker and filter for your chapter. 

You can then select one or more action types if you want to see who has taken a certain kind of action. You can also enter a participant name if you want to see all the actions a specific person has done. Be sure to also enter the desired time period as it will default to one year. 

In the results, to see who they are hover over their initials or face photo to show the full name. You can then use your chapter roster to look up their information and contact them about taking on a new role. 

Getting Help With The Work
  • As a Group Leader, when you have too much to do, chance are, you aren't asking others in your chapter to help you take on roles and tasks that can help your chapter thrive.
  • Consider that a reason that some people don’t succeed is that they aren’t engaged in the work enough.
  • Generic requests for help rarely work, but well thought out personal requests for help often do.
  • If you assume you are burdening people with your request they will agree and feel burdened.
  • If you include an acknowledgment or appreciation of their strengths as part of asking, they say yes more often.
  • When you match the person to the task well, they light up and thank you for asking them. (You have to know your people’s skills and interests.)
  • Delegating requires trusting people AND providing support for them to succeed.
  • When people agree to do something and you don’t see anything happening, you need to initiate contact, find out the problem and solve it.
  First Step: Assess

Assess how much the person already knows about a given task, project or role by asking a few direct questions:

  • “What is your level of comfort with this task or assignment?”
  • “What approach would you take to handle this role?”
  • “Are there particular steps you’re uncertain about?”

Step Two: Delegate and Coach

Then delegate based on your volunteer’s competence level.

  1. Do. If your volunteer lacks experience with a task and hasn’t developed the necessary skills for the job, show them how it is done. Do the work the first time while your volunteer shadows you to learn for the next time.
  2. Tell. If a volunteer recognizes that they do not know how to execute a task to get a desired result, encourage self-reflection. This can help them create a more meaningful learning pattern.
  3. Teach. If some steps of a task are known but your volunteer still struggles with other tasks, show them how to perform a task by clearly explaining why things are done a certain way. Call out individual steps to reveal the underlying structure of how to approach a task.
  4. Ask. If a volunteer knows how to complete a task but has to follow a “cheat sheet” rather than doing it automatically, further improve their grasp of the task by asking questions. “What is a key insight from this process that you can carry forward?” This will help build confidence by confirming they may know more than they thought.
  5. Support. Even if a volunteer is fully capable of handling a task, they shouldn’t be left without guidance. Schedules change and new priorities develop so let your volunteers know that you are available for support if needed.
Empowering Your Requesting

When considering making a request for others in your chapter to help out:

  • Get into the other person’s world with respect and compassion.
  • Be clear and specific
  • Provide a timeframe.  
  • Ask for everything you want.  
  • Stop trying to predict someone’s response.
  • Let go of your interpretations or attachments to their response. In other words, allow or even encourage their full freedom to accept, decline, or counteroffer.
  • Allow or even encourage their full freedom to accept, decline, or counteroffer. Yes. No. Or No, but… or Yes, and.

Be Clear & Specific

  • First, get clear about what you seek and ask for 100% of it.  Sit down with yourself and really think about it.  What exactly do I need?  Make some notes.  
  • Be clear about the end you are seeking, the outcome ... and don’t get attached to the means.  For example, if you want a chapter co-leader, what you are really seeking is a way to share the activities of a chapter leader.  That can be done with a partial leader, a leader-in-training, a person who handles one lever, a steering committee or having someone do the part of those activities that they are drawn to.
Give Your Volunteers Freedom
  • Avoid the pitfall of thinking you know what they will say ... or that they are too busy / too short of resources / don’t have enough skill to say yes.  It disempowers you to limit yourself this way.  Ease up on those predictions.  You empower and honor people when you give them an effective request and then give them the space to freely choose how to respond.  Just ask!
  • Think of requests like a drive-in window at a fast food place.  There’s one world on one side of that window (the busy restaurant), and another world on the other side (in the car), and each party wants to have a satisfying and effective exchange at the window.  Think of requests as a boundary between two empowered people:  they can make their own choices inside their world ... and also you can make your request ... all without judgment.  In this model, you and the other person don’t need to give each other your reasons for accepting, declining or counter-offering their requests.  You can just make a good request and listen to their response.  It can be low drama.
  • A “good” request is not necessarily a request that someone says yes to.   A good request is one where you got into the other person’s world, asked for something clearly and specifically and gave them a timeframe ... and it’s a good request when the other person is fully satisfied with their choice to accept, decline or counteroffer.  
  • Take your request to the person who can do something about it.  It’s so easy to complain to your friends about how weary you are.
  • Provide the space for a genuine reply ... “no” is okay with you.  Declines are powerful:  they tell you where not to go - don’t waste your time on that path, at least for now.  Try elsewhere.

Easing into a full request

Here are some phrases that can be used to ease into the full request:  

  •    this is an opportunity to ...
  •    would you consider .... 
  •    would you be willing to ... 
  •    can you have it for me by [time]   

When you have some asks to make, it’s normal to experience discomfort or fear or resistance or procrastination.  These are normal.  Although it gets easier as you develop your capacity and mastery for asking, it is not unusual to have to push through something to make your ask.  That’s the time to bring courage to your asking.  Courage is feeling the negative feelings and taking the action anyway.  Just do it!  Just ask.
If you are asking in person or via phone calls, it can help to lower the negative feelings if you write up a script for yourself ahead of time. Pay special attention to the opening line. Not that you follow your script word for word, but writing a script helps you to formulate specifically what you want to ask for and some key phrases to use.  You can have the script in front of you and refer to it as needed.  

Press play to start the video (33m 14s)
Video Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro & Agenda

Virtual Signup Sheet (Action Sheet)

Chapter Organizational Chart

Volunteer Opportunities Emails

Empowering Your Requesting

Action Tracker - Recent Actions
  • Elli Sparks
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Press play to start the audio (33:14)
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Audio Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro & Agenda

Virtual Signup Sheet (Action Sheet)

Chapter Organizational Chart

Volunteer Opportunities Emails

Empowering Your Requesting

Action Tracker - Recent Actions
  • Elli Sparks
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