"Good Horsemanship is Built on Solid
Basics...So is Good Business!"
Business & Association Development, Marketing, Professional Workshops
forthe Horse Industry
by Lisa Derby Oden
Just think about all the activities in this country that rely on volunteer
help! Town officials, fire departments, youth leaders and many more, this
dedicated group provides the backbone for our organizations. The horse
industry has many opportunities for volunteers. Volunteers run our horse
shows, muck stalls, provide horse care, clear trails, provide therapeutic
support for handicapped riding stables, give riding instruction, and perform
a multitude of other organizational activities.
Volunteer development isn't a hit or miss thing. It's components are:
understanding motivation, recruitment, training, and recognition/reward
What motivates someone to give freely of their time this way? Many reasons
can be given: because they were asked/invited, to have fun, to be creative,
to work with friends, to serve the industry, to bring about change, to
work with/around horses, to be outside, to add to or update skills and
experience, to explore career fields, to be with people, to network, to
use free time, to have recognition, to earn school credit, to work with
youth, to be a resource, to travel, to be part of a team. List other reasons
that you can think of.
Why do volunteers stop? Again, there are a variety of reasons: inadequate
orientation/training, position requires more skill or time than volunteer
can give, position is perceived as "busy work", no job description, no
means for input and ideas, poor supervision, lack of recognition, lack
of cooperation with other volunteers, burnout, leaders react negatively
to new volunteer participation, position/activity misrepresented, no chance
Where are volunteers found? Using your experience and imagination, list
the sources of volunteers that have already participated in the past on
committees and projects. Think about the best ways to involve the different
groupings that emerge from your list. Have a volunteer information sheet
for new volunteers to fill out. It should include name, address, phone,
volunteer activities that your group offers, skills and experiences, how
much time volunteer has to commit. Once this information is in hand,
a good volunteer opportunity can be matched to the individual. Your organization
should create job descriptions for volunteer opportunities, as well as
estimated time required for these. This makes volunteering easier for
everyone. Think about if you're asked to participate in something. If
you can get answers to your questions, you're more likely to say yes.
If the > people involved aren't sure of answers, you may get cold feet.
Volunteer training may vary depending on the size of your organization.
Training starts with orientation, and can be accomplished one on one or
in a larger group of new volunteers. The history of your organization
and structure, services provided, calendar of events, projects, and list
of officers and staff (if applicable) should be included. Provide a list
of tools and resources available to the volunteer, and brainstorm with
them about others. Make guidance and support available. Pair new volunteers
with experienced volunteers. Furnish a list and phone numbers of other
committee members. Provide details about the project to be worked on.
If training is available outside your organization, make these opportunities
known as well.
Plan for volunteer recognition/reward. Thank your volunteers every opportunity
you get. Thank them again. And then thank them again. Mention them in
your press releases. Thank them in your newsletter. Have a volunteer recognition
celebration. Give out awards. Build an incentive system from number of
A diverse group of volunteers offers a strong network of talents, skills,
ideas and connections. They have the resources and provide the services
that contribute greatly to your group's success. A happy volunteer is
a tremendous asset, and will spread your group's good word to many others.
(Lisa Derby Oden has been providing business development, marketing, and
association consulting services to the horse industry since 1995. Oden
is author of "Growing Your Horse Business" and "Bang For Your Buck: Making
$ense of Marketing For Your Horse Business." She is the 1999 AHC
Van Ness Award recipient for outstanding service to the horse industry.
She can be reached at: (603)878-1694; email at Lisa@horseconsulting.com;
or visit her
website at www.horseconsulting.com)