Interesting Thoughts From Other Places

Read some good stuff today on two blogs that really can’t be improved upon by any commentary I can offer so read on—

The Nonprofiteer had some sage advice in a recent entry regarding recruiting people to fill volunteer roles be it a board member or ticket taker — recruit in pairs.

The two-by-two recommendation is most often made about Board members, and specifically about minority Board members: don’t ask someone to be the only African-American or the only woman in the room. But it’s equally true of any Board recruit, or in fact of any volunteer: bring in 1 person, and you’ve got a 50% shot at keeping him/her. Bring in 2, and you’ve got an 80% shot at keeping them both.

Why? Because misery loves company, and being a newcomer/outsider is always misery. And because unless your Board or volunteer program is truly astonishing, anyone observing it from the outside will think it could use a lot of improvement. The prospect of trying to improve something unaided is usually daunting to the point of not bothering.

Seems easier to do with board members who tend to be actively recruited as opposed to volunteers for other areas which are often self-selected. You don’t want to turn someone away simply because no one else offered their services this week. It is possible though to orient people in pairs or small groups to facilitate bonding among them. If the 80% retention stat is correct, it seems prudent to arrange the situation so people’s initial volunteer encounters are in multiples.

Over at Producer’s Perspective, Ken Davenport relates an answer Sandy Block of Sernio Coyne gave to the question about why producers attempt to mount Broadway productions given the enormous challenges. Block stops the class in which the question was asked and queries those attending how many remember the first movie they saw and then how many can name the first Broadway show they saw. Few people raised their hands at the first question but everyone raised their hands at the second.

Says Davenport:

There’s a highly emotional experience connected with Broadway; a passion that can be turned into profit . . . Now the real question is, how can we capitalize on that?

Davenport then asks his readers to take Sandy Block’s survey and record the first movie and first Broadway show they saw in the comments section of the entry. If you remember, go on over and write it in.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


Leave a Comment