Covenantal relationship with volunteers

“Volunteers do not need contracts, they need covenants. Covenantal relationships enable corporations and institutions to be hospitable to the unusual person and to unusual ideas. Covenantal relationships enable participation to be practiced and inclusive groups to be formed.” – Max De Pree, Leadership Is An Art

I love this quote. I did volunteer management / coordination for over 10 years, and so much time was spent on the logistical elements of matching volunteers to specific tasks that needed to be completed. But if volunteering really is working (without pay) then we need to make sure that volunteers experience a covenant with the organization where they work. What would this convenant look like? How would volunteers feel if they were in a covenantal relationship with the organization? Deep work is meaningful and engaging. I think about the statistics of volunteerism declining – see the Forbes article on baby boomers deciding not to volunteer – http://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2013/04/01/can-we-get-some-volunteers-please/. I believe that everyone is looking for this kind of covenantal relationship with their work – whether this work is paid or unpaid. If we started to think about our organizations as sites for covenants, how would this change our organizational structure, dynamics, communication strategies, interpersonal relationships etc? Who would lead this charge for deep organizational change and who would take this risk?

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