The last weekend of January I attended a leadership training course put on by the American Chemical Society, of which I am a long-time member. All the trainees were volunteers who serve the society in various capacities. One of the sessions I attended was “Engaging and Motivating Volunteers.” In that course, I gained several new insights into the process of involving volunteers to accomplish an organizations’ goals. One of the key takeaways for me was learning of the different ways that volunteers are motivated. Five motivating factors: social engagement, values affirmation, career advancement, gaining experience, and personal fulfillment, each have different weighting for different individuals. That weighting may change over time; a younger volunteer may be more driven by career advancement and gaining experience than a retiree. However, this is not always the case.

Volunteer opportunities can be divided into two types: “Positional,” and “Project.” Examples of positional volunteer opportunities at RHA are officer, board, and committee chair positions. These positions are defined in our by-laws. Since December we have published a notice of proposed change to the by-laws that will allow us more flexibility in filling all the seats on our board.  Please attend the February Dinner meeting and vote on this change! We had 15 active board members for most of 2019 and 17 board members going into 2020, of which four (the maximum allowed by the current bylaws) are affiliate members. Assuming the amendment passes, we expect to make three more appointments including one additional affiliate member. This will bring our board to the maximum size of 20, which will strengthen all aspects of our organization.

Project opportunities differ from positional opportunities in that volunteers are assigned a specific task, usually short-term. Rental Housing Alliance has many project opportunities such as “help set up for our Annual Picnic” or “send an e-mail to the City Council” or “help serve meals at Portland Family Homeless Solutions.” Keep an eye out for that last one – we will be scheduling a regular meal each month at PFHS in the Lents neighborhood. This is an opportunity for all Portland Landlords to contribute a small amount of time to an organization that assists some of our most vulnerable community members.

RHA has a long history of volunteerism. We would not be as strong as we are without the thousands of hours of volunteer time contributed by our members. I have met many of you who have volunteered for positional opportunities like serving on the board, as well as project opportunities like teaching a class or setting up for our Starry Night fundraiser. Each year, the board of directors nominates one of our members for the Al Moulton & Sharon Fleming-Barrett Award, named after two past members who were devoted volunteers not only for RHA, but for the broader community as well. Although I never had the opportunity to meet Al or Sharon, I am thrilled that our organization recognized them for their volunteer efforts and continues to recognize an outstanding volunteer from within our membership. This award will be given at our February dinner meeting, so there is another great reason to attend!

Our board members and committee chairs will be reaching out in the months ahead to ask for volunteers for several projects. I look forward to working alongside you in these endeavors!

Ken Schriver
RHA Oregon President