Volunteerism has reportedly been on the decline for the past few decades. And for industries like the credit union movement that rely on volunteers this can be a real challenge. In a breakout session yesterday at TCUL’s Texas Governmental Affairs Conference and Member Meeting & Expo, presenter Jason Boles of Fans Created, Inc. says credit unions could do a better job of “selling” the credit union.
“Let’s be honest. The credit union volunteer role is not traditionally sexy,” he told the mixed audience of credit union volunteers and professionals. “It’s a tough sell.” A sentiment echoed by many in the audience.
“Young folks seem to have too much going on to serve on the credit union board,” one veteran volunteer said. Another commented, “They [young people] don’t even want to come in the credit union to do business.”
Boles acknowledged that recruiting new volunteers – particularly the younger generation - to serve on the board is a challenge faced by many credit unions. But it’s not impossible. He told the audience that it’s essential to know who you are looking for:
Identify required skills
Identify required knowledge, experience, etc.
What is the “perfect profile” of a director?
Include all in a detailed job description
He also encouraged attendees to open up the search. “Go beyond friends and colleagues,” he said. “Look beyond the original sponsor group.”
Boles cautioned against overselling the volunteer opportunity.
“Be honest about the commitment needed,” he encouraged. “People are motivated differently, so you have to find out what a potential volunteer might be motivated by.”
There are a number of selling points of volunteering that Boles encouraged credit unions to promote to potential volunteers, including:
The ability to network with other professionals
The opportunity to grow their resume and expand their knowledge
The opportunity to lead and/or enhance their leadership experience
The ability to truly make a difference
When it comes to recruiting new volunteers, Boles says credit unions “should always be on the look-out.”
“Don’t limit your search for people just like you,” he added.
Credit unions, he said, could benefit from more diversity in the board room. Without diversity on the team, Boles warned of the danger of thinking alike, and doing “more of the same;” therefore, getting “more of the same results.”
Boles pointed out that diversity must go beyond race and age. When seeking diversity on the board, he says credit unions need to consider diversity in skill sets, life stages, education, etc.
Increasing diversity on the board isn’t without its challenges. New people can inadvertently “rock the boat” or step on toes. Fresh ideas can sometimes challenge the comfort level of the team. New volunteers can see the credit union as more of a “business” and less of a “movement.”
“Yes, diversity comes with challenges, but it’s worth it,” he assured the credit union audience.
During his presentation, “The Strategic Volunteer,” Boles covered a great deal of ground, including the strategic planning process and board performance evaluation. He also touched on the reasons for ineffective boards and identified what he considers to be the five dysfunctions of a team:
Absence of trust
Fear of conflict
Lack of commitment
Avoidance of accountability
Inattention to results
TCUL’s Texas GAC and Member Meeting & Expo runs through Friday.