Luise SchneiderBy Luise Schneider, ISPI International Director

In the past three years, not only did ISPI have to accept the reality that many members could not attend educational conferences because of budgetary constraints, but it also became apparent they had to reduce their ISPI volunteer hours because of urgent priorities in their work and family life.

For ISPI, this meant financial struggles, reduced staff, and maintaining member services without the full-strength of our member volunteers. One of the unfortunate outcomes of the changing times was ISPI was not unable to react to all volunteer requests appropriately.

When it comes to volunteering, ISPI is well known for welcoming each and every member to take part in committees and to become actively involved. Many members call us their professional home. Even those who have just entered the organization are invited to share their perspectives and obtain hands-on responsibilities.

In the past, ISPI has not always managed to leverage volunteer contributions well. The Board of Directors lost track of initiatives once a Board member left his or her position, headquarters did not manage expectations of staff involvement, and committee chairs failed to take action when volunteer members had performance issues. These performance gaps can be observed in almost all associations, but:

Shouldn’t we know how to resolve this? Aren’t we about performance?

Since ISPI is a volunteer organization, it should be:

  • Ensuring all committees work in concert with the Board of Directors and Headquarters (alignment of goals on all levels)
  • Ensuring volunteers grow their knowledge of ISPI, stay engaged after their assignment, and share their knowledge in the next volunteer position (knowledge transfer)
  • Supporting that working as a volunteer for ISPI becomes such a pleasurable experience you bring your friends in as well (growth in membership)

To streamline the volunteer forces, the Board of Directors is creating, in cooperation with the Volunteer Committee, a volunteer performance system on all levels of the organization.

Volunteer Performance Management System Overview

Vertical Alignment
Society Goals. The Board of Directors has a clear plan through 2013, developed by former Boards, which will ensure we stay on track.

Strategies. The Board has defined five strategies that are directly connected to the Society’s goals. These strategies show us the way to achieve the goals.

Committee Objectives. The Board has aligned all objectives for all committees with these strategies so each team knows:

  1. What to work on
  2. How other teams work in the same direction
  3. How success is going to be measured

Horizontal Alignment
Alignment of Former and New Committees. ISPI creates a system that ensures new teams build on the achievements of former teams as opposed to reinventing the wheel. This will happen on all levels: Board, Headquarters, and committees.

Building Committee Synergies. Committees need to understand where their goals and objectives interface with other teams and how they can build synergies.

Performance Standards
Supporting Volunteers Who Struggle. The Board and the Volunteer Committee are reviewing the Committee and Taskforce Handbook to encourage chairs to take action in case volunteers are not able to follow up on their commitments.

Building a Career Path for High-Performers. We are creating a succession plan for those volunteers who demonstrate high commitment and deliver outstanding results within their volunteer teams. We need to ensure these members are acknowledged and have a development plan that will move them to Society leadership positions.

This is the volunteer performance system as we envision it at the moment. To make sure we do not miss any critical elements, ISPI will reach out to current and past volunteers to learn what members think and how we can get past volunteers back on board.

If you are a volunteer at ISPI, please let us know what you think about our new volunteer performance system structure. If you are not a volunteer yet—why don’t you contact the Volunteer Committee and hop on board? You may send an email to

See you at the conference in Orlando, April 10-13. Register now; make sure you do not miss it!