What’s worse than having a job to do and no volunteers available to do it? Having volunteers show up and not having meaningful work for them do – that’s what! Recently, at the Points of Light Conference on Volunteering and Service, I met one volunteer coordinator who shared an elegantly simple solution to ensuring both that volunteers always have meaningful work and that staff can easily and efficiently get needed assistance.
I volunteered yesterday morning. Here’s how my day went:8:05 I arrived at my volunteer site 25 minutes early and checked in, then found a seat.8:35 The person in charge welcomed me along with the other 140 or so volunteers. She then showed us an orientation video, which was informative, helpful, inspiring, and answered every question I had.8:50 Following the video, we were asked to wait until we were given our assignment.9:30 A few dozen volunteers were called up to the front and received an assignment while the rest of us were encouraged to take a short break before reconvening.10:45 The person in charge thanked us again for coming and told us that we wouldn’t really be needed after all and we were free to go.10:50 I left feeling like I had done my job and wasn’t at all upset that I had sat there for nearly three hours without receiving a volunteer assignment.
Engagement professionals invest a lot of time and resources in training volunteers, developing volunteer leaders, and coaching colleagues in how to work effectively with volunteers. If only we invested as much time, energy, and resources into developing ourselves as professionals! Due to economic challenges and heavy workloads, professional development is more often viewed as a luxury rather than as a necessity. Would we ever consider training volunteers or other staff as a luxury? I think not. Nevertheless, investing in ourselves as professionals all too often falls by the wayside. Yet, investing time and resources in developing as professionals is vital to success on all levels – personal and professional. Here are four ways to learn new things, connect professionally, and energize yourself as a volunteer engagement professional.
Summer is waning but I am committed to making the most of these final weeks. Soaking in the sunshine and savoring the tastes of sweet summer fruits – which brings me to peaches… and an unexpected demonstration of how one volunteer can transform the most mundane role into a powerful opportunity.
My college classmate, Andrea, posted a lovely note on Facebook today in appreciation of her mother-in-law. While it was noteworthy in and of itself (how many of us take the time to appreciate our in-laws, let alone articulate that appreciation so eloquently and in a public fashion?), I couldn’t help but read it and consider the lessons that volunteer engagement professionals can learn from her post. Andrea opened with the question, “What is it about my mother-in-law that brings out the best in everyone around her?” As nonprofit professionals, we have the opportunity to bring out the best in the volunteers who share their time and skills with our organizations. Here’s how Andrea’s mother-in-law achieves that in her life.
Do you work with Board Members, Committee Chairs, or other Volunteer Leaders? Looking for some tips on how to enjoy the partnership and make the most of your collaboration?JFFixler Group is pleased to present a new webinar through MyJewishCoach.com designed for professionals in Jewish organizations who seek to enhance and strengthen their partnerships with lay leaders... and make the work enjoyable and easy!
I am honored to be one of the 35 authors contributing to VolunteerMatch’s new book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World (#35Experts). When VolunteerMatch first approached me about contributing a chapter, I felt as if I had come full circle. Eight years ago, when I first joined JFFixler Group, I started as a researcher/evaluator and volunteer engagement trainer, but what really bonded me to the work as well as to the others in the firm was serving as project editor for the book, Boomer Volunteer Engagement: Collaborate Today, Thrive Tomorrow.
I recently returned from New Orleans where I facilitated a retreat of nonprofit leaders from animal welfare organizations across the country. Among the main topics of conversation was the vital importance of engaging community members as ambassadors and advocates on behalf their shared mission. Engaging volunteers, members, clients, and community members as effective ambassadors is a topic that comes up in our work over and over again with all types of organizations.
So much has been written and discussed in nonprofit circles about what motivates today’s volunteers. The chance to use or gain skills, to make a tangible difference in a community, to support a passionate cause, networking or social benefits, and so much more. Rarely, however, do we step back and reflect on how and why we volunteer (or even if we, as nonprofit professionals and leaders, volunteer ourselves). I often reflect on my own motivations to volunteer – and that reflection has value to our own career and our own practice.
"Loved this webinar! My organizartion is currently defining volunteer management and volunteer engagement so this was extremely helpful. I gained some insight that I can take back to my staff as I continue to develop their volunteer engagement skills. Thank you!!! —Webinar Participant