Every organization and its service opportunities are unique. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the amount of time that should be invested in the Discovery of a volunteer’s intrinsic motivators. A tool that may be helpful to leaders in discerning the appropriate investment is The Time and Talent Matrix. This framework uses two perpendicular axes, the Time axis and the Talent axis. The vertical Time axis assesses the intended time commitment of the volunteer. The bottom point of this y-axis represents a one-time volunteer event. The top of the axis represents the potential for sustained service. The horizontal Talent axis measures the skill level or specific criteria required to fulfill a volunteer role. The left point of this x-axis represents no special skill required to volunteer. The right end of the axis signifies a highly specialized role, or one that requires a clearly defined set of criteria. As these two axes intersect, four quadrants are formed, numbered in accordance with the diagram below.
Each of the four quadrants corresponds to general guidance for leaders to consider as they ponder their Discovery time investment. Bear in mind, as this tool is applied, that one size does not fit all. The quadrant’s rules are not ironclad. The four recommendations are presented for leaders to consider as they grow in their volunteer engagement acumen.
guiding leaders of volunteers to feed the passion of those who choose to serve
The Time and Talent Matrix, Quadrant One
Service opportunities that fall in the first quadrant represent lower intentions for sustained service, and fewer special talents or requirements
to serve. This is a common scenario for large-scale volunteer events. It is difficult to apply a personal touch to these types of events.
It is impractical and would yield little return on the time investment.
For Quadrant One opportunities, leaders should, whenever possible, offer volunteers choices in lieu of the Discovery effort. Choice in some aspect of their volunteer experience places a measure of control back in the hands of those who are serving. When able to make choices, the adult volunteer meets a basic need—self-determination. They may draw closer to performing in a role that meets one of their passion points.
The Quadrant One volunteer may also choose to steer away from serving in a capacity that does not feed their needs, wants and desires.
The Time and Talent Matrix, Quadrant Two
Volunteer opportunities in the second quadrant still reflect lower intent for continued service but require a higher measure of specific skills, attributes or criteria. These one-time, or short-term volunteer projects that call for special talents can be quite appealing. Quadrant Two volunteers are fed by sharing their gifts but may not have the ability to offer a longer commitment.
In Quadrant Two, some Discovery of intrinsic drivers may be beneficial. Leaders should spend more time on the screening process for these activities. Since potential for a long-term relationship is less likely, aligning the required talent with the role takes precedence. That said,
do not underestimate the value of asking the volunteer a few why questions. Leaders will never know the potential for touching the heart of a volunteer until they reach out to discover. This touchpoint may elevate the volunteer’s passion, which may lead them to adjust their availability to serve in a greater capacity.
The Time and Talent Matrix, Quadrant Three
Service in Quadrant Three may not require many, or any specific skills or criteria, yet openness for sustained engagement is great.
Volunteers who present for these opportunities deserve the full Discovery treatment. A rich conversation, or series of conversations,
will reveal what is in the heart of the volunteer that drives them to step forward. Leaders will discover the volunteer’s unique drivers
and leverage this insight when supporting the volunteer in finding the right fit role. Leaders of volunteers may consider fully applying
The Guide for Engaging Volunteers, detailed on this webiste, for Quadrant Three opportunities. Deep Discovery is critical to engaging
third-quadrant volunteers in meaningful ways.
The Time and Talent Matrix, Quadrant Four
Volunteer roles that land in Quadrant Four have high potential for sustained service and also require specific talents and/or criteria.
Leaders should consider deeply engaging in the Discovery of the volunteer’s intrinsic motivators. Leaders should also mine for the desired
skills and attributes through a screening process. Quadrant Four volunteers require the most Discovery time investment from the leader.
The payoff for this time investment is a higher likelihood of sustained volunteer service from a knowledgeable head, an impassioned heart
and skilled hands.