Magazine article The CPA Journal

Understanding and Motivating Volunteers

Magazine article The CPA Journal

Understanding and Motivating Volunteers

Article excerpt

When involved in a nonprofit organization, board members, committee chairs, and volunteers have individual behavioral styles that differ from their other work environments. To form more effective relationships, nonprofit leaders should adapt their behavioral style to complement their volunteers.

In the 1930s, William Marston developed a concept, later elaborated upon by John Grier, that divides people into four basic personality types: Dominance (D); Influencing (I); Steadiness (S); and Conscientiousness (C). The key to relating with a volunteer more successfully is to discover your own style, identify the volunteer's style, and adapt an approach that fits the volunteer's style.

Identifying Your Style

Determining one's personality style requires answering several questions. Think about each response in the context of relating to others.

Question: Is your relationship style more active and outgoing or more reserved? If you answered active and outgoing, your style is either Dominance or Influencing. To find out more specifically what your style is, select one of the following: Are you more concerned with directing others, or with relating to others? If you answered relating, then your style is Influencing. If you answered directing, your style is Dominance.

If your answer to the first question was reserved, your style is either Steadiness or Conscientiousness. To learn more specifically what your style is, select one of the following: Are you more concerned with being accepting of others, or assessing or judging of others? If you answered accepting, your style is Steadiness. If you answered assessing or judging, your style is Conscientiousness.

Characteristics of the Styles

Dominant (D) individuals like getting immediate results, causing action, accepting challenges, and making quick decisions to solve problems. Influencing (I) individuals are verbal and enthusiastic, and enjoy contacting and entertaining people while making a favorable impression. Steady (S) individuals are loyal, patient, and good listeners, and like staying in one place while concentrating on the task at hand. Conscientious (C) individuals prefer following standards and procedures, concentrating on details, and working under controlled circumstances.

Volunteers' Styles

A Dominant volunteer is highly interested in being involved in new, innovative projects. To convince her, get right to the bottom line and don't waste time with lots of facts and figures. An Influencing volunteer is the friendly, gregarious type who enjoys talking and socializing. She's great at convincing others, loves new, innovative projects, and isn't interested in details. …

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