Hands in to Volunteer

Executing in a Volunteer Environment

When it comes to executing, work isn’t the only place this can be of value. Recently I attended a board meeting for my son’s lacrosse team. The league itself is made of up 8 teams of boys and girls ranging from Kindergarten through high school. It takes a pretty substantial effort to manage a Fall program for new players, our regular Spring season, hosting our home event, and all the other details it takes for a successful program. To be honest, I had no idea how much work went into the league until I joined the board.

After a brief summer break, we were back at it getting our plans in order to kick off the Fall season with opportunities to learn how to play lacrosse through as series of clinics, in addition to offering some opportunities for our more experienced players to get together and knock the cobwebs out. So many details go into this that need to be handled by a team of people. Confirming dates, field space, coach availability. Designing flyers and signs, getting superintendent/principal approval to distribute flyers at local schools, setting up the registration site, producing the social media marketing and updating the website with the details, and on and on.

Photo by Helloquence on unsplash.com

In the past, this flurry of activity would be managed by a collection of emails, text messages, scraps of paper, and plain old memory. Among about 8 people. The lack of a collective understanding of the status of the tasks would lead to a flurry of group text messages or reply-all style emails. And a few days later you’d find yourself searching through those emails for that one important piece of information.

Last year when I was new to the board, I suggested that we add Trello to our toolkit. Folks weren’t sure; they hadn’t used that type of collaboration tool in the past. And although my official role was for social media and communications, I saw this as a great opportunity to have the rest of the team raise their game too.

By taking ownership of our to-do management system, I wanted to drive everyone to execute on their tasks. To take responsibility, the way I have, for managing their contribution to any given project and raise awareness of everything that is going on.

Adoption was slow. Adoption was almost non-existent. But I held firm and put in tasks as I became aware of them, sent reminders, updated status.

Fall Planning – Trello Board

But this season, something shifted. Being able to go back and look at last year’s board meant we had a better understanding of what needed to be completed, and when. We didn’t have to re-invent the wheel. Tasks could be distributed. And the leadership started to really see the value in using a centralized tool for managing the league. The President even created her own board!

Sometimes in an organization, the best thing you can do is lead by example. In this case, keeping a detailed list of what needs to be done, marking items as completed, and having a real understanding of what else is on the horizon can spur others into action. And with a group of volunteers, having structure surrounding what needs to get done is almost more important because it is something that needs to fit in around the rest of the activities in our life.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming year. Having a blueprint for running the league as a whole, I expect it will take less time as we don’t have to hash out all over again what needs to happen. I’ll report back mid-year (or for us, in Jan between seasons) to update on how year two will Trello has been going.