News from the Chicago Chapter

Report From IREM 2017 Midwest Regional Meeting: The Value of a Strong Volunteer Program



By:  Shruti Kumar, CPM®, Secretary
Institute of Real Estate Management
Chicago Chapter 23

As the Secretary of 2017 executive council for IREM Chapter 23, I had a terrific opportunity to attend the Super Regional Conference June 6-8 in the beautiful city of Minneapolis. The entire conference was packed with speeches from industry and IREM leaders, information, networking opportunities and FUN!

What resonated with me the most was the session on launching a strong volunteer development program. Often, we tend to recruit without thought to the process. To recruit and retain good volunteers, it is imperative to have a sound program in place.

For continued success, the program should include these factors:

Recruiting: This component involves understanding the need to regularly recruit volunteers, interviewing candidates, vetting them for their interest and energy, asking them what they can bring to the table, and other relevant topics.

Training: Once candidates are recruited, it becomes imperative to train the volunteers. Chapters should host an orientation to introduce new volunteers to the leadership team, and share bylaws, job descriptions, the mission and purpose of the chapter. To help guide the volunteers toward success, it is recommended to have a volunteer development committee in place.

Retaining: Once volunteers are recruited and trained, the key to continued success lies in retention. The best way to do this is by positive reinforcement, as all behaviors are a function of their consequences. Often, we tend to reward underperformers with a positive consequence. Two examples: Restarting a meeting to accommodate late comers or rewarding all volunteers on the committee regardless of contributions. These kinds of practices involuntarily discount good performers with a negative consequence.

Rewarding: And, we should make a concerted effort to reward good performers with a positive consequence. For example, recognize the top performing volunteers and give negative consequences to underperformers by holding them accountable.

In summary, having a volunteer development program in place is vital to the successful recruiting, training and retention of good performers and vital to the success of IREM chapters.