The Volunteer Heart

Robert J. Pye, CAE

Volunteer time is the greatest gift received by associations because volunteer time is difficult to spare.

Volunteers are undisputedly the most committed team members association leaders know. They are the unpaid, unsung heroes who take on the heavy lifting that membership dues, sponsorship fees and grants could never afford. Associations exist on volunteer passion and as the saying goes, “those who can do, do – those who can do more, volunteer.”

Volunteer motivation comes from many paths – a passion for the cause; a desire to give something back; a sense of belonging; emotional self worth and the validation of a simple pat on the back.

Throughout my association career I have worked with hundreds of volunteers – special people with big hearts. Their down-to-earth approach to giving back inspires everyone in the organization to go the extra mile. Volunteer attention is persuaded merely by the enthusiastic expression of an idea or a vision and a plan that is executed on the humble call for help. Volunteer elbow grease and grunt work is commissioned at most on the reward of Timbits and coffee or a post event beer. As one of my conservation volunteers once joked, “it’s amazing how much I will work for a slice of pizza and a t-shirt.”

Student volunteers step up for experience and retirees get the volunteer work done while keeping themselves active.  Full-time working volunteers juggle demanding careers, homelife, as well as all the special causes and committees that call their name. Young or old, the volunteer satisfaction strikes the same chord.

CSAE members come by volunteer admiration honestly. We volunteer, too. The CSAE network is a mosaic of community leaders who take pride in their volunteer life beyond the volunteer-driven associations that provide their employment. 

The Canadian Society of Association Executives understands the volunteer power that drives the grassroots association engine. Association leaders know that every day is volunteer appreciation day and National Volunteer Week in April helps shine the spotlight even brighter. This spring, the CSAE spotlight is shared by an impressive list of committee volunteer heroes nominated for CSAE leadership awards. Congratulations to the nominees, award winners and everyone who plays a volunteer role with CSAE.

In timing with National Volunteer Week, the 2021 CSAE Trillium Awards is April 21. It is time to lift each other up with more of your time to celebrate the leadership of CSAE friends nominated this year. Unmute the zoom to share your applause for the pride in volunteer hearts. Keep up the great work.

Robert Pye is a senior manager with one of Canada’s largest conservation organizations – the 79,000-member Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH). He has volunteered on the CSAE Trillium FORUM editorial committee since 2017.