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Dividing up the Tasks: the Task Menu Exercise

For Example -- Since you need a menu of tasks to bring to volunteers if you want to get them to help, you need to know how to divide up a large task into bite sized pieces.

The following example shows how one can start to divide up the tasks for one project:

Putting on the Annual Organization's Dinner and Awards Ceremony.

You can see from this example (which outlines only a part of what it takes to put on such an event--enough, hopefully, to give you the idea) how many different jobs there are for an event like this. Other events will not have so many tasks. Others will have more. But almost any event, no matter how small, can be divided up into smaller tasks.

Sample Division of Tasks:

Project: Annual Dinner

  • Large Task Preparing the dinner and all food.
    • Sub-Task: Buying paper plates
    • Sub-Task: Buying drinks
    • Sub-Task: Setting up tables and chairs on night of the dinner
    • Sub-Task: Cooking lasagna
  • Large Task: Selling dinner tickets
    • Sub-Task: Getting tickets printed
    • Sub-Task: Selling tickets by phone
    • Sub-Task: Sending out dinner flyer announcement
      • Sub-Sub-Task: Stuffing envelopes on January 17, 7-8 p.m. at the office
  • Large Task: Awards Ceremony
    • Sub-Task: Getting awards speaker
    • Sub-Task: Getting all award certificates or award gifts
    • Sub-Task: Doing calligraphy on award certificates
    • Sub-Task: Notifying all people who will get awards to make sure they attend
  • Large Task: Dinner Program
    • Sub-Task: Printing program
    • Sub-Task: Handing out program on night of dinner
    • Sub-Task: Staffing sign in table at dinner ETC., ETC., ETC.

How to Plan a Visit

All this good advice is worthless unless you go out and do it. Start with someone easy. Someone you already know slightly. Before the visit, make a plan. Fill in the following information about the person you are going to see. What do you already know about this person?

  • Organizational affiliations
  • Past activities
  • Family
  • Networks
  • Current activities
  • What can you ask them to do?

(Have in mind BEFORE you go for the visit a MENU of possible things you can ask her/him to do. These may include:

  • Attend a meeting of your group
  • Pass out a flyer for the meeting
  • Make a phone call
  • Bring to the meeting
  • See If so and so would like to help with the annual dinner
  • Call their minister to see if you can talk to her
  • Arrange to meet at their church
  • Stuff envelopes
  • Volunteer at the office
  • Host a "coffee" in their house for you to talk to some of her friends
  • Go with you to visit Mary across the street whom she knows and whom you don't

You get the idea. In your visit, as you listen to someone, hear his or her personal limitations, and think what might be a good task for him or her to do. Don't forget to ask them to help!

This is an Opportunity for Them as Well as the Organization

When you are asking them to do something, remember: It is an opportunity for them, not a favor to you or the organization. You and the organization are not only out for yourselves. Certainly, there are tasks the group has to accomplish. You also want to provide an opportunity for them to do something that will be a benefit to them. It is a balancing act.

In the one on one dialogue above, the woman I was recruiting was involved in the church. You can see how the discussion group can provide an opportunity for her to meet other people and perhaps to help meet her needs for a better school for her 10 year old.