Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan generated loyalty in politics that was unheard of at the time. A former actor, he was best known as the great communicator! When he died, the outpouring of loyal leaders as well as citizens was amazing. Keep in mind that the torch bearer for the original conservative movement in the 1980′s had changed parties from Democrat to Republican. So even this man had to work his way through political minefields to get settled, all while keeping a loyal fan base later called Reagan Democrats.
Loyalty in sports is legendary. Sports fans around the world will stay with their teams through thick and thin. From basket ball to base ball to football, loyal fans are generated by the skilled use of marketing as much as winning records.
For some who root for the underdogs, the Green Bay Packers are a choice that has resulted in sports bars catering to Packer fans in most major metropolitan cities in the United States! That is a fan base folks, with tons of loyalty to go around. Several other sports franchises would love to have such a loyal set of fans spread all over the world, in football or other sports.
How did the Packers generate such a fan base and more importantly how can those lessons apply to our empowered volunteers? Let’s examine this a bit more to find out.
Football appeals to a wide audience, including women and even high status people. It isn’t a one social class attraction. This is true of volunteering as well. Interestingly enough, the very successful are often giving of their time on weekends for volunteering, just as football fans devote their time on weekends for their team in stadiums across the United States.
From a recent Forbes article I read recently, “Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (Portfolio, 2012) and What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend (Portfolio, 2012), says successful people know that weekends are actually the secret weapon in professional success. “You need to hit Monday ready to go,” she says. “To do that, you need weekends that rejuvenate you, rather than exhaust or disappoint you. Cross-training makes you a better athlete, and likewise, exercise, volunteer work, spiritual activities, and hands-on parenting make you a better worker than if you just worked all the time.” The bold on volunteer work is mine in this quote.
If the rich and successful see volunteer work as worthy, so should everyone who is aspiring to be successful, no matter how far they have managed to get towards that goal.
With the health benefits of volunteering already established long ago, another study furthers that truth.
A national survey of 3,351 adults conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of UnitedHealth Group demonstrates that volunteering is good for your health.
Here are some of the takeaways from this research: “Companies that encourage and sponsor volunteer activities are also likely to engender goodwill and loyalty among employees. And of the employed volunteers in the survey who volunteered through their workplace, 81% agreed that volunteering together strengthens relationships among colleagues.
The survey suggests that nationally, more than half of all employees have volunteered. At UnitedHealth Group, 81 percent of employees and 96 percent of executives volunteered last year, so they clearly believe in the benefits—both tangible and intangible—of having employees engaged in their communities.” Again, the bold word loyalty is mine in the above quote.
How does all of this help the empowered volunteer? If the wealthy and successful find volunteering worthy, then it can apply to anyone else who aspires to be either wealthy or successful.
It most certainly can apply to the poor also, but the health benefits for the poor will outweigh the other aspects gained from volunteering. The wealthy have access to better health management so this nails down what volunteering can also do for them, it is the social and intangible features they are looking for, as well as networking.
Loyalty, what is it worth? Well, ask the sports franchises who have had winning seasons but then when they are down their fans abandon them.
Fan loyalty is a study all in itself and I am not going to dwell on it very long, I only offer to point out that for the only major sports franchise in the U.S. who are still owned by the public and not owned by one wealthy owner the Green Bay Packers have a loyal fan base second to none! Other sports have the NY Yankees with a great loyal fan base that travels well. There are other teams that would qualify for high fan loyalty, such as the Dallas Cowboys.
So how did these teams do this and how can it apply to volunteering? First off, the Packers use volunteers throughout the year to help with their program. They even pay low wages for volunteers to shovel by hand the entire stadium every time a snow fall threatens to interfere with the next game! They always have to turn away the volunteers they have so many show up when they put out the word for help! Talk about loyal.
The second thing is that winning helps, a bunch. Consistent winning helps enormously.
The Packers have several TV and radio programs every week where players make guest appearances and fans can meet and get signed stuff from that player. So if you are willing to wait an average of 3 hours before taping the show, you can meet a player or the coach. Pretty nice, and this is NOT the norm in every NFL football program by the way. Some teams I have found out don’t even support a short program each week for the coach to meet the fans live! Wow, what a missed opportunity to build loyalty.
How do you apply this kind of thinking to volunteering?
Well, an example of one group’s success is the Shriner’s promotion of their Shrine East/West Football game by inviting the public to enjoy dinner and a presentation with the college players who are hoping to be drafted a few months from the game to visit with fans the night before the game. It costs money for the event, but most of us never get close to real players in this type of setting. Meeting the players and getting photo’s and autographs is exciting and intimate, just like being in the audience of a Packer TV show, no matter which of the shows you visit each week. It promotes goodwill and loyalty! Fans love it and so do volunteers.
Several volunteer groups have sponsored race cars over the last few years. NASCAR fans are so loyal and they are very energetic. For the volunteers who manage to get passes to the drivers area or pit row, the effect and resulting loyalty is dramatic. It lasts for a very long time.
Loyalty is valuable, it is coveted and it is required for long term success in most organizations. In the next post we will continue exploring how to generate loyalty.