I’ve been training a lot this autumn, and it’s been a pleasure to work with people who genuinely want to improve their volunteer management skills and thus their agencies’ effectiveness. With the incoming Obama administration promoting more people volunteering, we’ve really got to increase and to improve our capacity to attract, screen, manage, and recognize (and thus retain) more volunteers, regardless of whether the government invests any resources in our generally underfunded, volunteer programs.
In October, I traveled to VolunteerMaine‘s 22nd annual, state-wide conference on volunteerism (Sadly, Massachusetts does not regularly organize anything like this, which makes me wonder about its commitment to increasing the volunteer capacity of all nonprofits in the Commonwealth, not just ones with AmeriCorps and Commonwealth Corps members.) to give a workshop on developing partnerships to a “sold out” audience. In a nutshell, I compared the process to dating and using an approach like eHarmony’s to promote your strengths and help you clarify what you seek in a way that is attractive to potential partners. This is contrary to the typical way charities seek support, by leading with needs. Later, on 11/6 I also shared my philosophy and handout with 30 people who attended the DOVA meeting on corporate partnerships. Note: I also heard Jean Twenge discuss her meta-data-analysis for Generation Me, so look forward to DOVA’s May ’09 topic on subsets of Millennials/younger volunteers.
I also organized a workshop at the first conference of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network for four Directors of Volunteer Administration (DOVA) members to share their approaches* for tabling at community events. From the large, fairly unique New England Aquarium and Greater Boston Food Bank to educational charities Boston Partners in Education and Generations Incorporated, we shared why we table and our rationales for using specific items and staffing. *I don’t write that we shared our “best practices” since I’ve grown to think that one organization’s best practices only work in the complex environment of that organization.
Then I gave my semi-regular clinic on volunteer management at TDC, where I addressed concerns from from five, local charities. There was a bit of a scheduling snafu, so I didn’t receive people’s questions in advance, but the clinic pretty much covered everything from developing position descriptions to probationary periods, followed by recognition, based on the primary things that motivate people to volunteer as usual.
All in all, I’ve worked with volunteer managers representing 80+ charities this autumn, so am hopeful that I’ve been able to help them think differently about the way their agencies do things so that they can find more well-matched volunteers and partners who help them make a difference in New England.