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What’s Wrong with a Perfect Volunteer?


At MCI USA we often lead retreat-style meetings for our clients’ board of directors. We’ve presented on everything from strategic planning and branding to member engagement and good governance. And whenever we present, whether for an hour or six hours, it is always critical to involve activities designed to get people thinking creatively and working collaboratively. For a while, I’ve had this idea of a creative activity for a retreat and just needed the right opportunity to try it out.

And during a recent two-hour retreat on engaging and motivating volunteers, it was time. Here’s how it went… Board members were put into teams and given a large outline of a person, think a gingerbread man. Each team was tasked with creating the “perfect volunteer.” This was an extroverted and creative group, so I knew they were the right group to try it. And boy did they love it! With different colored markers in hand and a truly collaborative spirit, they got to work – and the ideas they came up with went beyond my hopes. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Boots – need a volunteer who can get to work
  • Hats – need a volunteer who can wear many hats
  • Whistle – need a volunteer to be able to keep meetings under control

How creative! And I bet you could think of so many more.

Now a few days later, I’ve been thinking about the question I posed: “Create the perfect volunteer?” That word perfect sure is loaded. Who is the perfect employee? Who is the perfect client? Who is perfect? The answer is no one. None of us are perfect, and our imperfection is what makes us open to new ideas, growth, and innovation.

I want to work with staff and volunteers who aren’t perfect. They can learn from past mistakes. They can challenge themselves to be different and creative. They can continue to learn and develop new skills.


Comments 1

By Jim Kelley

Wed, 13th Dec 2017

Amy, what a great post and so true. The PCMA Capital Chapter leadership is still talking about “the Amy’s” Thanks again for sharing your times and insights with us. You walked the talked of being a volunteer by giving and offering of yourself to the Chapter.

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