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A blog for the people who manage, coordinate, and supervise volunteers. Chocked full of useful information to help you create amazing volunteer programs.

 

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From The Bottom Up: Grassroots Leadership Models

Posted By Louroz Mercader, Community Outreach Coordinator, Grassroots Growth, February 16, 2016
Updated: February 16, 2016
 

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Across our city and province today, reliance on grassroots leadership is growing. We expect ordinary citizens to take on our biggest challenges and help forge workable solutions. The Grassroots Growth project has taken the time to learn about who they are, what motivates them and what challenges they face, and now we want to help  support their efforts, .

Grassroots groups without a hierarchy usually devolve into anarchy.  While this may seem counterintuitive for a grassroots organization, the group will need a leadership and governance structure with defined responsibilities if it is going to succeed at a high level.

While there are the traditional forms of governance structures for volunteer-driven groups, such as having a formal Board of Directors, there are other less formal models that can be just as good, depending on the needs of the group.

Many groups use a “Leadership Team” or collective model, where power and decision-making is distributed evenly among a core group of volunteers. They often share responsibilities, they may rotate positions, and some operate by consensus, which can be challenging. While some groups function with a “Strong Leader Model”, where one person—usually the founder, who has a dynamic personality—drives the organization forward.

The leadership team and strong leader models are recommended as temporary measures that groups should employ.  We recommend that groups should use the model that works best for their group right now, and when ready, transition towards selecting a more traditional form of governance in order to increase their legitimacy and access resources that are only available to groups with particular governance structures.

If you are looking to start or grow your small grassroots organization, establishing the right governance and leadership structure will help you and your volunteers to successfully achieve your mission.

 

The Grassroots Growth Project is hosting two FREE pilot workshops on Grassroots Governance: Building A Structure That Fits:

 

Tuesday, February 23 from 6-9pm at Volunteer Toronto

Saturday, February 27 from 1:30 – 4:30pm at Fairview Public Library, North York.

 

To register and learn more visit the Grassroots Growth webpage.

 
As Community Outreach Coordinator for the Grassroots Growth project, Louroz reaches out to volunteer-run groups in Toronto and across Ontario to help spread the word about the project and get our services out to those who need them most.

Tags:  Governance  grassroots groups  Grassroots organizations  leadership  Non-profit strategy  non-profits  volunteer  volunteer engagement  volunteer-run organizations 

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The Building Blocks For Volunteer Planning

Posted By Ainsley Kendrick, February 11, 2016
 Road sign - success/solution

 

Lori Gotlieb presents “Building Block for Strategic Planning for Volunteers” at the 2016 VECTor Conference on March 9, 2016. Register now to choose her workshop, and check out some great tips below!

 


 

I find it interesting that when you look at the volunteer management cycle and all the components, that there is not much on strategic planning.

Are volunteer programs seen more as a support program that is focussed on responding to need or are volunteer programs moving to leadership programs where we engage volunteers in ways that may drive organizational business?

For example, what if a volunteer who had many years of project management experience offers to share their skills with the organization? Where could that fit in?

We need to start looking at strategic planning for volunteerism in a new and meaningful way.


To start, we need to understand:

 

  • Who our stakeholders are and what they need through stakeholder analysis;
  • The risks in volunteer management and the tools to minimize those risks to staff, clients and volunteers through a risk assessment;
  • Our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats with regards to volunteer engagement through SWOT and PEST analysis;
  • The trends in the field through research and networking;

 

Once you’ve considered the above, you can then move to the next step by:

 

  • Engaging volunteers in the process;
  • Developing priorities; goals and objectives to keep on track through project management.
  • Determining an ideal end result and outcome of the process
  • Get started!

 

On March 9th join me at VECTor 2016 as we will be discussing all these points and more at my workshop on Building Blocks for Strategic Planning for Volunteerism.

 

 
 Lori Gotlieb photoLori Gotlieb is the President of Lori Gotlieb Consulting as well as co-developer and faculty member for Humber College Volunteer Management Leadership Certificate. She is a volunteer management expert who provides a unique concierge service to her clients as well as an internationally published author and workshop facilitator who has taught workshops to many diverse audiences across North America. Lori was the 2012 recipient of the Linda Buchanan Award for Excellence in Volunteer Management. 

Tags:  Executive Directors  Leadership  Non-profit strategy  Strategic Plan  Strategy  volunteer management  Volunteer Program 

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5 Questions Grassroots Leaders Should Ask Themselves

Posted By Camara Chambers, Director of Community Engagement, December 2, 2015
Updated: December 1, 2015
 Senior woman smiling
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes              

 

The Trailblazer Series is a set of leadership talks for people who run grassroots non-profits. On November 24th 2015, Volunteer Toronto held a session called “Great Leaders Ask The Right Questions”, facilitated by Edward Johnson, a consultant with broad international experience in leading teams and change in the finance and technology corporate sectors.

Here is a snapshot of what was covered.

  

The task of leading a team or a non-profit group can be a difficult one. Regardless of what type of leader you are or the qualities you possess, these five questions can ensure you’re the kind of leader people want to follow.

 

What do our stakeholders want?

Leaders need to be able to clearly define and understand their key stakeholders. Knowing their needs, interests and expectations is as important as being able to convey to stakeholders the benefits of being involved in your organization.

 

Am I hearing what’s being said?

When speaking with team members, leaders should aim to pay full attention to what is being communicated as well as make a conscious effort to understand the complete message being sent. The best way to do this when problem solving with your team, Johnson explains, is Listen, Ask, Decide. Asking provides the opportunity for you to summarize what you have heard and get clarification before a decision is made.

 

What motivates you?

“Motivation is on a personal level,” Johnson explains. “Leaders need to first understand what motivates that person. It is about avoiding assumptions and asking questions. It is about connecting.”

What motivates one person won’t motivate another, and so it’s necessary to get to the crux of what drives each member of your team.

 

What don’t I know?

At times, a leader will come across someone who is more skilled or knowledgeable than them in a particular area. It’s important to know your limitations and strengths. Nobody knows everything, and understanding your own blind spots and weak areas in itself is a strength.

 

What doesn’t matter?

There will be times when being a leader is going to be difficult. “When dealing with stress, a leader has to keep a clear head,” Johnson says.  “People are going to get things done, but it is about prioritization.” Knowing what’s important for your organization and what isn’t, and being able to clearly and consistently communicate that to your team to ensure they are on the same page is a crucial part of leading a group. Be highly focused, and focus determinedly on the right things. 

Looking for more great information? Attend our next Trailblazer Series on December 9th! The topic is "5 Tips For Securing Grants" with guest facilitator Anne Morais, who has over 15 years of experience writing successful grant applications. 


Camara Chambers manages Volunteer Toronto's public engagement strategy and team. This includes working with community partners, leading large-scale events and overseeing various programs that aim to encourage Torontonians to volunteer. In 2014, the community engagement team helped connect 550,000 people to volunteer positions in Toronto!

 

Tags:  charities  good leaders  grassroots groups  Grassroots organizations  how to be a leader  leadership  non-profit  questions leaders ask  Trailblazer Series 

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