Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why is it hard to get male volunteers? What can we do?

Office Away From the Office from Guys For Life International on Vimeo.

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Linda Trask, Executive Director for the Care-Net Pregnancy Center - Lakes Region in Laconia, New Hampshire. While we were on the phone she shared how hard it is for her to attract and then keep male volunteers at her pregnancy care center. Many male clients shirk their appointments and leave male volunteers high and dry with wasted time. This is an all too common part of the conversation I hear from many pregnancy care centers around the country.

There are a host of reasons this phenomenon occurs such as not having a male friendly environment, the fact that over forty-five percent of pregnancy care centers predominantly use the words "Woman", "Women" in their agency titles and others. Men as clients, and ultimately volunteers, don't feel welcome in this environment. However, I have seen these issues being addressed for the last seven years and it brings me great joy to see so many pregnancy care centers understand the unplanned pregnancy issue is a "them" dilemma and not a "her" issue alone. The tide is changing.

It's going to take more than a name change, paint scheme and having male brochures on hand to turn this problem around. If I may, I would enjoy challenging you to go one step deeper in your understanding of why you may find it difficult in attracting and keeping male volunteers. It comes, from all sources, God's word:

“Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Deuteronomy 25:4

A key reason many men do not come forward to volunteer is the simple fact that many men weigh the investment you're asking them to make as a volunteer as 'too high' or 'too rich' against the backdrop of the jobs/career and income they need to generate as the leaders of their home. In their spirit, they feel they would be muzzled in their capacity to logically provide support to you faithfully - then meet their key responsibilities as provider for their families. Therefore many a good man goes walking by - yet your legitimate need for male volunteers still exists.

A challenging predicament for sure, but one that is quite easily overcome. Things are not as bad as they seem. Follow me:

Some of the best mentors you could ever attract to work with male clients are those men in the workforce whose jobs or careers lead them to being ‘mobile’ or 'on the go' (salesmen, small business entrepreneurs, etc.). Most of the time these men need an “Office Away From the Office”. If you were to provide them a secure place where while they wait for males client to present themselves your male volunteers could complete the work their employers have hired them for.

Returning calls - writing quotes - developing presentations - forming contracts - follow up...

The concept is simple - provide men an office away from the office - many pregnancy care centers we have trained are doing it.

  1. Designated area for work (Office, Desk, networked computer)
  2. WI-FI internet availability, wireless internet access points (for his laptop, IPad, etc.)
  3. Wi-FI Color Laser Printer
  4. Ample Office Supplies
  5. Small Refrigerator with water and refreshments
  6. Peace and Quiet
This is a win-win-win. The idea being that while he is waiting the male volunteer is productive and hitting his primary goals to his employer and family with your goals secondary.

By allowing men to use your office environment as a quiet secure place where they can meet their primary goals your organization will logically become more attractive to the potential male mentor wanting to help you, but realistically knowing he has other priorities that must come first.

Download the Office Away From the Office one-pager to discuss with your team, male volunteers and donors/partners that can make it happen.

Till next time,

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