In the past two days, both the NYTimes and Wall St. Journal have reported that with the recent massive layoffs, a deluge of highly skilled volunteers are now available to help non-profits and voluntary associations. How can organizations best integrate these new volunteers and tap their talents, while meeting volunteers’ interests?
My studies of the Burning Man organization revealed that this organization excelled at tapping volunteers’ interests and (lack of) skills. Rather than being pigeonholed into certain tasks, volunteers could develop their own roles, and they also develop skills. Some volunteers spearheaded projects, such a recycling center, a question and answer service, and a message service, that became part of the organizational infrastructure.