November 2022: What Makes a Great Volunteer?


Hello CMAA!

One thing we all have in common is volunteers who shape our clubs and our Association. We all have volunteer committee members, and/or board members. A legal definition would share that a volunteer “is an individual who performs hours of service for a public agency for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, without promise, expectation, or receipt of compensation for services rendered.” Many state statutes indicate “any volunteer shall be immune from civil liability in any action on the basis of any act or omission of a volunteer resulting in damage or injury if: 1) The volunteer was acting in good faith and within the scope of such volunteer's official functions and duties for a non-profit organization, a non-profit corporation, hospital, or a governmental entity; and 2) The damage or injury was not caused by willful or wanton misconduct by such volunteer.”

Despite the legalese, are all volunteers created equal? I think you would agree with me that the answer is an emphatic no. There are terrific volunteers and there are volunteers who create challenges. There are committed volunteers and those who don’t show up.

What makes a great volunteer? Here are some thoughts about effective board or committee member service:

  • They have a passion for the organization.
  • They understand their volunteer obligations and where the line is between staff and volunteer. They also recognize that if they are on a committee, the Board is the final authority, not the committee.
  • They prepare for and participate in meetings, adding value to the topics discussed.
  • They enter into their role with a desire to listen, learn, and understand that they do not know everything. However, working as a part of diverse group with varied views, a committee/board will usually make the best decisions.
  • They should be willing to express their opinion, but ultimately respect and be supportive of the group’s decision.
  • They ask the right questions, constructively challenge, and make the right statements that create clarity, add insight, or inspire new thoughts.
  • They create rapport with their peers and never try to intimidate or demean others.
  • They recuse themselves if they have a conflict of interest on the subject or topic being discussed.
  • They understand confidentiality and don’t share discussions with others outside of the meeting.
  • They remain motivated and committed to their role for the organization and the importance of this job to the whole.
  • They attend meetings with respect and with their full focus. They do not multi-task, for instance, on their phone or side chat with another committee member during the meeting.

Wouldn’t it be great if every board or committee, as well as staff, acted as these good habits suggest? I must admit I have strayed a few times as a staff member or in a volunteer role  in the organizations I have been involved with. We are human after all and sometimes passion takes over. But practice makes perfect and the more I have been involved as a volunteer and with volunteers throughout my career, the better board, committee, or staff member I become.

At CMAA Headquarters we have an annual process to submit your interest to serve on a National Committee. As members and volunteers, you are a part of the engine that helps move CMAA forward and your involvement is critical. We recently opened the call for volunteers for 2023, with terms starting at the World Conference in February. Incoming Chairman Michael Seabrook, CCM, CCE, will be appointing Committee members in early 2023. Please consider submitting your interest to serve. We seek involvement from all member segments – new members, seasoned members, members across the country, members at different types of clubs, and members of different club sizes. That diversity will help ensure CMAA has a representative cross-section on each committee.

Thank you for your consideration and while I am at it, have you reviewed all the information about the World Conference and Club Business Expo in Orlando, FL, in February? It isn’t that far away. Register now!