Auxiliaries and Friends Groups

Sub-set of all-volunteer groups specifically established to support a nonprofit organization or government agency by raising funds, doing public advocacy, and sometimes doing direct volunteer service for clients.

Be Ambassadors to the Community, Jan Masaoka, All Hands on Board: The Board of Directors in an All-Volunteer Organization, pp. 15-16, National Center for Nonprofit Boards and the Support Center for Nonprofit Management, 1999
A Bill of Rights for Members, Bryan Leipper, The Dear Association Leader
Decision Making in Small Groups, Nathan W. Turner, Leading Small Groups, pp. 49 - 50, Judson Press, 1996
For Arts Nonprofits, What’s the Value of a Volunteer?, Duncan Webb, The Clyde Fitch Report, 2016
Is There Hope for Auxiliaries?, Susan J. Ellis, The NonProfit Times
Leading Volunteers, Nancy Beach
Limiting Volunteers through Insurance Requirements, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2010
Jan Masaoka, originally published by the National Center for Nonprofit Boards , pp. 19
developed for conservation volunteer leaders who are responsible for leading groups of other volunteers, by the Federation of Ontario Naturalists., pp. 66
A series of nine books by Volunteer Northwest Territories and Volunteer Nunavut in Canada for volunteers and volunteer groups in small and large communities. The link here is to book 1, which links to the other 8 booklets of 40 pages each., 2004, pp. 40
From HandsOn Network and the Corporation for National Community Service, this PDF provides a simple overview of the tasks of managing a project with volunteers. Especially pertinent for volunteers leading other volunteers. , 2010, pp. 56
The Center for Association Leadership

Site for staff and officers of trade and professional associations, with many articles, sample forms, "cool tips," etc. Search under "volunteer" or "member development."

Mark Levin Leadership Articles

Professional speaker and association manager Mark Levin shares his archive of articles about membership development for associations.

PTO Today

Wonderful publication and online resource for parent-teacher organizations -- but with all sorts of useful nuggets for ANY all-volunteer organization.

PTO Today Archives

Wide range of articles on recruitment, fundraising, and making things work, written for leaders of parent/teacher groups but applicable to any all-volunteer organization.

Self-Help Sourcebook Online

All sorts of information for running a self-help group, including links to existing groups and tips for effective online support.

United for Libraries Resources for Friends Groups

Free toolkits, promotional materials, and other resources -- including a :Pwer Guide to Successful Library Advocacy" for Friends groups of all types, sizes, and level of activity. 

Volunteer Job Descriptions

Focused on officers of all-volunteer groups, from the Risk & Insurance Management Society

Volunteer Spot

Free site designed to enable anyone to quickly mobilize, coordinate , and schedule volunteers in their community, congregation and social network to accomplish projects more easily.

Print and e-Books in Our Store

Book cover

A how-to guide to fulfilling the role of board treasurer, written in simple, clear language for the non-accountant.

AHVRP, a professional membership group of the American Hospital Association, is the premier professional membership society for healthcare volunteer services, retail operations and related support services disciplines. List of chapters having Web links.

Site also  has materials about the Committee on Volunteers, a specialty committee of the Board, concerned with the roles, responsibilities, and services of organized volunteers and auxilians, as well as the community perspective they provide for the health care field. 

A membership organisation that exists to support and develop best practice in volunteer management in the National Health Service in the UK, to enhance the experience of patients, carers, the public and staff. 

Co-existence of Auxilians/Friends and Direct Service Volunteers
From Susan J. Ellis, President, Energize, Inc.

Many organizations benefit from the support of self-governing, all-volunteer groups. Often called auxiliaries or "friends of" groups, they are common in hospitals, cultural and performing arts institutions, libraries, parks and zoos, and government agencies needing an independent fundraising body. The officers of these associations, themselves volunteers, must coordinate the efforts of their members to accomplish goals. But many organizations also have paid managers of volunteer involvement recruiting a separate corps of volunteers for in-house activities.

Co-existence of two bodies of volunteers can create underlying tension. It is common to hear volunteer officers question the need for a paid coordinator, matched by paid managers bemoaning the challenge of dealing with volunteer leaders. And the volunteers (or "members") they lead are caught in the middle.

The Roots of Tension
With some exceptions, the traditional all-volunteer association is in trouble. Even if some groups are presently viable, their long-range future outlook is not rosy. Many are "aging in place" without attracting new or younger members, let alone any type of diversity. They are recycling officers because few members want to take leadership roles. Their projects and the amount of money raised are in a downward spiral. Understandably, volunteer leaders are defensive about this situation, especially if they cannot see alternatives to future survival.

Almost always the all-volunteer support group pre-dates the creation of the paid coordinator of volunteers position. The world has changed around the veteran volunteers, who do not necessarily feel inclined to change along with it. So, the paid volunteer resources manager and the group's volunteer officers are out of sync with each other from day one.

The seeds of discontent are further sown by unwitting executives who add the new staff position without any clear explanation of what will be expected in terms of coordination and cooperation between the new employee and the pre-existing volunteer leaders. All the options raise red flags. If the new in-house volunteer office is given no authority (or direction) to deal with the all-volunteer group, the two programs are left to their own devices to work out a relationship and bump against each other trying to co-exist. If the employee is suddenly put in charge of the formerly independent volunteers, it's easy to see the potential for resentment and resistance. If the all-volunteer group is asked to fund the paid position (which does still happen), questions arise about the chain of reporting and ultimate responsibility.

Someone has to define policy to eliminate assumptions. If volunteer association officers assume a hierarchy in which they are on top, they may view and treat the paid volunteer resources manager as administrative (largely clerical) staff at their beck and call. On the other hand, the volunteer resources manager, assuming a hierarchy in which s/he is on the top, may view and treat the volunteer association as an irrelevant (or irritating) appendage. If the person hired to fill the new employee role was previously an officer of the all-volunteer association, all sorts of additional friction emerges!

Finally, if a merger between two or more organizations forces the consolidation of previously operating volunteer groups - and possibly more than one paid volunteer management position - expect similar problems unless strategic planning prepares the way.

Potential Consequences
Apart from unpleasantness, tension between two sets of volunteers creates practical problems, both in handling daily work and in public perception. The division can confuse the community if each does separate publicity and recruitment, rarely mentioning the other or offering a prospective new volunteer the choice to become involved with the other or both groups.

Frequently the two volunteer corps compete, particularly for younger, more diverse new members. Association officers may request that all new volunteers be required to join the all-volunteer association or automatically be considered members. This is a non-starter, as someone interested in contributing time to a specific volunteer assignment or project rarely is also interested in the social and political infrastructure of a membership association focused on meetings and events. Despite this reality, some organizations acquiesce to making all volunteers titular members of the auxiliary simply to appease the veteran leadership. This only tends to draw out the slow death of the all-volunteer group by swelling their membership roster with people having no intent to participate in the planned activities. Worse, volunteers attracted to the new range of work under paid leadership might resent the unwanted added layer of group involvement.

The Way Forward
Neither the paid volunteer resources manager nor the officers of the all-volunteer group can solve their divisions on their own. If it is genuinely time to disband the long-standing volunteer group altogether or officially make it a project within the larger volunteer program, muster the courage to do so. This should be done with the members, not to them, and any volunteer who wishes to continue supporting the organization should be offered that chance. Some pomp and circumstance might be in order, to honor the long history of contributions by the friends group - maybe even a plaque on a wall visible to the public.

If the decision is made to continue having two distinct corps of volunteers, articulate the rationale and create policies for how the leadership will interact. This probably means an intentional separation of the roles each set of volunteers will fill and guaranteeing that all volunteer applicants will be able to choose whether to affiliate with one or both.

Co-existence is possible, but only if both groups of volunteers are valued by the institution and by each other. The paid volunteer resources manager and the officers of the all-volunteer group need to have open lines of communication and collaborate whenever possible. Each is a resource to the other; combining their perspectives can only lead to more opportunities.

Last Updated: December 7, 2016