As part of JFFixler Group’s ongoing series of case studies, we featured a powerful story of skilled volunteer engagement that really embodies the concept of volunteer engagement as a key business strategy. Since the National Council on Aging has named today (the first day of fall) as National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, we couldn’t help but remember this impactful program and repost it so others can learn from these best practices.
Whether you represent a food pantry, youth program, senior center, theater, or other organization or agency, families are likely a key constituent of yours. They may be welcomed as members, program attendees, visitors, or clients. They may be cultivated as donors or participants. Rarely, however, do families easily and readily find ways to volunteer at these organizations – to volunteer together.
Summer may be waning, but at JFFixler Group, we are keeping the summer feel alive as long as possible by continuing to enjoy inspiration from our summer reading list. As is our tradition, we wanted to share some of the books we have been enjoying in recent months. Each of these three titles has added to our perspectives on volunteer and member engagement. We think they will enhance yours as well, providing fodder for productive conversations with your staff and volunteer colleagues.
Large conferences are the ultimate hyperbole: Simultaneously energizing and exhausting. Similarly, while it's inspiring to be one among a movement of thousands, it’s often the individual conversations and connections that are most profound. Recently, the National Conference on Volunteering and Service was held in Atlanta, GA, where thousands of engagement and service leaders (both professionals and volunteers) gathered to learn, share, celebrate, and advocate for our work.
Last month, while facilitating a reunion of organizations who participated in a year-long High Impact Volunteer Engagement project (HIVE), I was once again struck by the powerful potential that one strategic change can have on an organization overall.
This is a story of an “unexpected” volunteer who is making a very significant contribution to an organization – all because of a crazy idea and the fact that the organization made it incredibly easy for him to make his idea a reality. While we at JFFixler Group love to share case studies gathered from our research and work in the field, this is the story of my friend and “running buddy” Adam.
Maybe I was a little woozy from hunger when I first read today’s article, “It’s a Wrap: How Chipotle transformed itself by upending its approach to management” by Max Nison, as I couldn’t help but think about all the ways that volunteer engagement leaders can benefit from applying the burrito giant’s management tactics.
While it is not uncommon for volunteer engagement professionals to occasionally feel alone in their work, there is no better antidote to that frustrating feeling than by connecting with thousands of peers at the National Conference on Volunteerism and Service (NCVS). Hosted by Points of Light and scheduled for June 16 through 18 in Atlanta, GA, this year's NCVS will be putting strategic volunteer engagement at the core of the conference.
‘Tis the season of holidays, gratitude, celebration, and, yes, a bit of stress, too. The last six weeks of the year are always busy times. Whether planning work events, juggling family and social engagements, or trying to get ready for a much-needed vacation, many of us find our days and nights to be full and demanding. At the same time, the season often inspires us to reflect and express gratitude. Volunteers certainly make my list of “things I am grateful for” each year and I always try to express that gratitude to the volunteers who contribute their time to the organizations in which I am involved. As we have often discussed, volunteers today do not have the same motivations or expectations around volunteering as do older, more traditional volunteers. In that vein, traditional methods of recognizing and thanking volunteers (pins or plaques for years of service) often don’t resonate with new generations. The good news is that thanking volunteers and acknowledging their work do not have to be difficult, time consuming, or costly. The most important factor in meaningfully acknowledging volunteers is that we be sincere in our thanks.
When I first started working with volunteers more than two decades ago, few people talked of volunteer “cultivation.” Cultivation is a term first borrowed from the fundraising world. Fundraisers had long recognized that successful fundraising is all about relationships. With the shift from volunteer “management” to volunteer “engagement” over the past decade, nonprofits began to embrace the relationship-focused approach with volunteers as well, and “cultivation” has slowly but steadily been replacing “recruitment” as evidence of our commitment to cultivating ongoing relationships with volunteers over the long haul, rather than simply filling quotas through traditional recruitment methods. The evolution of our field – and the terminology we use to define the field – was top of mind for me when I was asked to present on Stewarding High Level Volunteers to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society yesterday at the Light The Night Campaign leadership meeting. “Stewardship” – like the concept of cultivation – is a term originating in the fundraising world. The Association of Donor Relations Professionals describes “stewardship” as activities “that take an externally-oriented view of bringing donors closer to the outcomes they are making possible, thereby demonstrating that the organization is indeed fulfilling its fiduciary responsibility to deploy the funding as the donor intended.” So what does this mean for volunteer stewardship?
"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