Busy People Can Help You

“If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.” That’s right, ask a busy person. “Aren’t they too busy?” you might ask. Actually, we have learned that successful busy people manage their time well. They have to. If you ask a busy person for help they will ask what you need accomplished, and by when. If they can, they will commit and deliver. If they can’t, they won’t.

Here are some suggestions for engaging busy people to help your organization:

  1. Clearly define what you want the person to accomplish.
  2. Clearly define project time frame and deadlines.
  3. Consider what the person will need from you in order to accomplish the task. Be prepared to provide that assistance or information.
  4. Communicate the impact that their help will have on your organization or the community.
  5. Communicate a sense of calm urgency.
  6. Thank the person for her involvement.

Call your prospective volunteer and provide her with an overview of what you are seeking to accomplish and how she can help. Keep the conversation short. Send her the details via email. All of the points above should not be longer than 1-2 pages.

For example, if you were asking a museum curator to invite local artists to serve as judges for your youth art program here is a simple version of what you could write up.

Project: Local Artists Serve as Judges for 2011 Youth Exhibition

Goal: Engage four local artists to serve as judges for the Sprint Youth Art Exhibition. Artists should have local name recognition and represent different disciplines.

About the Youth: Most of the children we serve are Hispanic or African American ages 3 –11 from the surrounding neighborhood. They participate in our Youth Studio program on Saturday afternoons and visit a local museum each quarter. Art programs were eliminated from their elementary school two years ago. Our work engages young people with their creativity and provides them with access to basic arts education.

Key Dates: January 15 – artists confirmed; February 1 – artist information submitted (see below); April 1 –opening reception for artists and judges; April 17 – Exhibit and Judging; May 1 – Send out thank you letters with framed collage of winning works of art.

Information required: Photo of artist, 150 word bio, photo of artist’s work

Anticipated time required: 15 hours over a four month period

Be sure to check in at agreed upon times. Let your volunteer know you are there to support her. “Let’s touch base in a few days. If you find there is anything you need, let me know and I will get it for you.”

Finally, be sure to personally thank your volunteer and anyone she engages (in this case, the artists). At the end of the project you want volunteers to feel good about the experience, that they contributed something of value, so that they will want to continue involvement with your organization.

© Mel and Pearl Shaw 2010.


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