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Ensuring Accountability in Your Association

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Accountability in associations, especially those that rely heavily on volunteers, is critical to the success of your organization. If your programs, events, and members are relying on the work that is done by your committee members and board members, it is important that these volunteers deliver on their promises or your organization may suffer.

How can an Executive Director, President or an AMC staff member create this culture and take steps to ensure accountability? We would like to share a few simple tips:

Set Clear Expectations
Before inviting an individual to a Board or Committee within your organization, it is important to clearly outline the expectations that you and the association have for that role. Try to define the time commitment, the days in which the individual must be available, specific responsibilities, and other key expectations before you give the volunteer candidate the opportunity to accept the position. Even if the person has the right skills for the role, if they cannot commit to the opportunity, they won’t be able to assist the organization in the way you are hoping.

It is important to empower your volunteers in order to create accountability. Micro-managing individuals is a sure way to avoid accountability, rather, holding people responsible for outcomes will get your association to a place you want it to be.

Create a Volunteer Promise
Before your volunteers get started, have them sign a ‘Volunteer Promise’. The Volunteer Promise should be fair, inspirational and should hold people accountable to their roles and responsibilities within the organization. It also serves the purpose of setting clear expectations that people will be getting onboard with right from the start.

Create a Supportive Environment
It is important to remember that we cannot force people to be accountable because accountability means that one must take responsibility for failures. Accountability has to be accepted. If an ED, President or other association leader is supportive of their volunteer teams and accepts that mistakes happen and is willing to work with individuals to correct the issues, it is likely that mistakes will happen less, and individuals will accept greater accountability.

These tips alone won’t create a culture of accountability, but they are an important first step in the process. Strong leadership by passionate individuals within your association is also important as is seeking assistance from experts in the association management world when you need it. Redstone is always a phone call away.

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