(Abstract from a Lecture in the 1998 World Conference for Organizational Development, Nairobi, Kenya).
Volunteer organizations throughout the world face the need to become more professionalized in order to survive and to better fulfill their goals which usually are:
In many cases becoming more professionalized mean more employed staff including in managerial positions - a change that might raise philosophical issues in an all volunteer's organization. A tension is introduced whereby some employees are contractually tied to the organization being required to carry out certain duties whilst other ‘voluntary’ members are there by free will and cannot be ‘ordered around’ in the same manner and can leave without obligation.
In this presentation a window is opened to the inside of an OD process carried out in Hadassah Israel. This presentation will then be a basis for discussion about OD in all volunteer organizations.
Hadassah-Israel (H-I) is a women’s, Zionist, volunteer organization connected to Hadassah International and the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America. Areas of special interest, awareness, involvement and activity are: health promotion, Immigrants Absorption, education, the status of women, environmental issues and the quality of life. H-I support Hadassah’s projects and institutions in Israel (Hospitals, Medical and Nursing schools, Colleges, Youth Villages, Research Institutions).
The stages of the wave of professionalization prior to the introduction of the OD consultant were:
1. Courses and workshop designed mostly to develop the volunteers and the leadership (existing and prospected).
2. Courses and workshop designed to improve aspects such as PR, Fund raising etc.
The OD process
The OD process included diagnosis followed by the development of a strategic plan called “Hadassah 2002” that included improvement on 3 levels. All three levels were supported by extensive training and development activities:
• Development of a mission statement and a strategic program.
• Installation of a steering committee and sub committees.
• Improving basic organizational processes such as decision making and time management.
• Improving the organizational structure mostly through empowering the vice presidents and creating a management forum and through better job descriptions.
• Introducing a PR consultant.
• Employing an organizational manager.
• Introducing a mentoring program for new and existing chapters - coached mostly by the chapter presidents.
• Improving information flow between chapters and head office.
Members Level (volunteers)
• Training and workshops (perceived as an internal motivator).
• Improved coverage for personal expenses connected with volunteerwork.
The plan was developed with the intention of making the volunteers more professional (to develop in-house skills, reducing the need to ‘buy-in’ external expertise).
Example of Intervention: Inter - cultural Relationship
One of the “big issues” in Hadassah Israel is that there are two different internal cultures (English speakers - mostly ex-American Jewish women that came to live in Israel; and Hebrew speakers). Each group has it’s own chapter and their activities are different. This ‘division’ was treated as a “Pandora Box” - better not to be touched.
In the first stage, a letter was send to all the membership. The aim of the letter was to ‘open the Pandora's Box’ in a challenging, but safe way in order to encourage members from the two different cultures within Hadassah to value the contribution of each other. The message in the letter was that the contributions were different but all equally valuable.
A workshop was built using the 7 Forms of Interaction Model. The aim of this workshop was to learn to appreciate the differences between the two cultures and the strength that combining forces could bring to the organization. In each workshop, a more or less even number of Hebrew and English speakers participated. The workshops were carried out in both Hebrew and English, and included the following parts:
1. A play describing a joint project carried out by an English and a Hebrew speaking chapters. The play was acted by two volunteers, one from each culture.
2. Working separately (English - Hebrew) with two facilitator On issues such as: strengths and weaknesses of my group/ the other group, projects I want to volunteer for etc.
3. Working together on the same issues.
The workshops were a big success on the emotional level. On the practical level (working together) some more work had to be carried out to put systems in place, e.g. mentoring chapter presidents and facilitating actual common projects.