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Virtual Assistants: A Secret Weapon for Volunteer Program Success?

Posted Apr 26, 2015 by Stacy Ashton

Natasha Golinsky, Next Level NonprofitsExecutive Directors of small organizations and Managers of Volunteer Programs have at least one thing in common:  a tendency to do their own administrative work.  Natasha Golinsky of Next Level Nonprofits and presenter of our most recent workshop “Less Stress, More Success: Working with Virtual Assistants” does not think this is the most effective use of time for non-profit leaders.

And by the way, if you run a Volunteer Program, you are a non-profit leader. Your volunteers certainly think so! They look to you for guidance, support, affirmation – the kinds of things leaders provide.

So now that we’ve settled it - you are a non-profit leader – what does it mean to be a leader in a non-profit organization? Well, as Natasha pointed out, those who go into non-profit work tend to be passionate about their cause, and willing to do whatever it takes to get the work done. This makes for capable, flexible, multi-skilled leaders, but it’s easy to forget that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should be the one to do it.

The main challenge I’ve found in working with administrative assistants is I really don’t know how to work with administrative assistants. And I really, really don’t know what to do with a Virtual Assistant, who would be doing my administrative work from outside my office!

How would I know what tasks to give a Virtual Assistant? How would I monitor their work? How would I know if they were doing it right?  Who on earth would be able to organize me, when I find it so challenging to organize myself? 

Natasha has heard those questions so many times, she wrote a blog post on it!

And she also built a workshop to take us step-by-step through all these questions.  I think my favourite part of the workshop was the list of “Common Tasks Non-profit Leaders Often Do Themselves But Shouldn’t”.  I put checkmarks next to the tasks I procrastinate at, those I dread, and those I don’t mind doing, but know someone else could do a better job.

Those three checkmarks added up to quite a long list of tasks I would happily outsource to an administrative assistant.

I won’t go through the rest of the workshop, because you really should have been there (and shouldn’t miss any more), but by the end I had a list of tasks divided into three main personality types, with estimates of how long each task would take.  That gave me three discrete Virtual Assistant roles:  a conscientious, detail-oriented person to handle the organization of my time and my documents; a friendly, personable assistant to handle outreach and follow up phone calls to clients, volunteers, etc; and a curious, research-oriented writer to find and organize content for our Blog.

With an idea of what I want my assistants to do, and an estimate of the time I think each task will take, I can start to build Volunteer Position descriptions, or I can take a look at the professionals who make a good living as Virtual Assistants and see what I can afford.

The habit I want to get into is identifying concrete, time-limited administrative tasks that will make my life easier if they are done promptly and well, instead of when I get around to them and as best I can do with the other priorities pressing for attention.

With that list in hand, I’ll be all ready for May 21 workshop on “Effective Delegation” – for which you should register right now!

Natasha has kindly allowed me to link to her Powerpoint presentation.  If you’d like to connect with Natasha you can find her at her website or connect to her through LinkedIn.



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