Saturday, September 29, 2012

United we broke our Volunteer!

Volunteer managers have great responsibilities. More so than other managers in many cases. When we engage volunteers we engage the community. This is not the same as engaging paid staff. Yes engaging paid staff incurs great responsibility. Your organisation prospers by keeping motivated staff. Having motivated and engaged staff is key to your organisations success.
Having motivated and engaged volunteers is even more important in my opinion as you are engaging a voice that has more freedom to speak. Volunteers provide a greater community buy in. Volunteers as I was once told many years ago by people who were scrutinizing my organization for accreditation purposes were the “eyes and ears of the organisation”
This is why I have for many years considered volunteers to be consumers and customers. Actually, what I mean to say is that I have tended to treat volunteers that way. I know some of you will jump up and down with that description but that is how I have treated volunteers and that is why I believe I have had great success in the recruitment and retention of volunteers.
Here is why:
·         People can volunteer for a myriad of organisations. Volunteer managers need to sell their organisation
·         People now volunteer for a myriad of reasons. The days of altruistic motivation as the only motivation for volunteering are long gone. Volunteer Managers need to capture this new breed of volunteering and sell why their organisations can accommodate same.
·         Episodic volunteering has been the biggest trend that has impacted my volunteering programs. I know I must sell my organisational flexibility to entice these episodic volunteers. And it works!
Volunteer interviews should now be a two way street. While we still traditionally do the interview that seeks to determine what type of person or character we are engaging and whether or not their skills and attributes suit our organisation we are also needing to be interviewed by them on whether we are worthy of their donated time!
I once met a volunteer manager who “binned” applicants that did not meet his/her interest. And they never even heard from him/her.
Today in the social media age every move you make has the potential to be scrutinized. Think now about the consequences if you don’t reply to the following:
·         An email request about your volunteer program
·         A tweet about your volunteer program
·         A Facebook message about your volunteer program
And have a think about how existing volunteers are communicating about your volunteer program and about your organisation!
Because if you work for a large or small organisation and one of your volunteers has a bad experience and if you don’t manage this effectively then you have the possibility of a social media savvy volunteer sharing their experience on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or other social media outlet!
 Imagine having a volunteer sing a song about their bad experience at your organization and it becoming a hit on YouTube!!!
Perish the thought!
A guy called Dave Carroll had a bad experience with United Airlines. He was a customer. They treated him badly. In fact they broke his guitar!  He wrote a song, put in on YouTube and has had over 12 million views.
I am a great fan of Dave (he has some great songs apart from this hit). He is also one of the most genuine “stars’ I have come across! I have contacted him in the past and he has always personally taken the time to respond.
If we start treating our volunteers as customers we stand a better chance of retaining great people once we understand good customer service! And if we don’t get customer service we are behind the eight ball when it comes to volunteering!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Change of a Dollar

It’s not too often that a movie really touches me. Especially an 11 minute one. Well here is one that did. It’s one that I just discovered and one that I will be sharing with volunteers.  I have always believed that It doesn’t take much to be the change in someone’s life. A smile. A kind word. A lending hand. A shoulder to cry on. A listening ear. A laugh shared. Little things can mean a lot.

It is good to remind volunteers sometimes that everything they do, from the little things to the bigger and more public things mean a lot. And sometimes we don’t even realise that a small action on our part can have amazing consequences for another.
This 11 minutes or so gave me encouragement and hope too. And faith in the goodness of a world where so much bad news reigns.
I am passing this little gem forward. I hope that some of you do too!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

10 reasons to support International Volunteer Managers Day and 10 ways to do it.

What is International Volunteer Managers Day (IVMD)? From the IVMD website:

“Universally, people recognise the contribution of volunteers - in sport, health, emergency services, faith communities and the environmental lobby fact volunteers are involved in just about every aspect of service delivery in all walks of life.

However, volunteering does not succeed in a vacuum. Behind this army of volunteers lies an equally dedicated group of individuals and agencies who are responsible for the coordination, support, training, administration and recruitment of the world's volunteers - skilled professionals who are adept at taking singular passion and turning it into effective action.

That is why we celebrate International Volunteer Managers Day every year on November 5.”

For years I have been an avid fan of this day. Here are my 10 reasons why people should support it

1. Volunteerism greatly benefits communities throughout the world. Behind many great projects lie the dedication and hard work of Volunteer Managers

2. Effective Volunteer Management advocates and promotes volunteerism

3. Volunteer Managers play a pivotal role in highlighting the great work of volunteers in their organisations and in their communities

4. Volunteer Management rightly aspires to be a recognised profession

5. Volunteer Managers are often unrecognized, unsupported and undervalued in some sectors

6. IVMD can be a powerful educational tool to educate and change perceptions on not only the role of managers but on volunteerism itself

7. Volunteer Management is a complex role and deserves the same respect given to other management roles

8. Volunteer Management enables vision to become reality

9. Effective Volunteer Management plays a part in changing lives

10. Volunteer Managers need the support of their volunteers, communities, friends and organisations to truly lead and inspire.

Here are 10 ways to support IVMD this year. And for once let’s reach out to other stakeholders. Let’s escape the echo chambers in Volunteer Management and call on community support. Because it matters!

1. Educate volunteers about the day

2. Send a letter to the nearest organisation to you that engages volunteers. Thank them for their efforts and ask them to celebrate IVMD

3. If your organisation has a Volunteer Manager send them an email on November 5 and wish them a happy IVMD

4. If you know a Volunteer Manager send them a message of support

5. Like the IVMD Facebook page and share it with all your friends

6. Watch this YouTube and Like and comment

7. Follow the day on Twitter!/IVMDay

8. Respond to this blog and tell us why you support IVMD

9. Share this blog!

10. Share the fact that IVMD also stands for Inspirational Valuable Magnificent and Dynamic!

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