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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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9 things charities want companies to know about asking to volunteer

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, May 12, 2017
Updated: May 12, 2017
 
Estimated reading time: 1 minute

 

You’ve probably experienced it: a corporate team says they want to volunteer—all 50+ of them, this month and at the same time and place. Sounds like a great idea, but is it manageable for your organization? The truth is, probably not. So how can you marry their goodwill with a meaningful and realistic volunteer experience? 

 

This spring, Volunteer Toronto hosted a Subscriber Circle, bringing together volunteer managers from across the city to talk about best practices in volunteering in the corporate sector. Dozens and dozens of requests come in to non-profits every month asking for large groups to volunteer, often with very specific ideas on their perfect team-building opportunity.

 

For the discussion, the group was joined by special guest Elizabeth Dove from Volunteer Canada. And as they set out to tackle the corporate challenge together, what came to light were nine pieces of advice—or things companies should consider—before embarking on employee volunteer initiatives, coming right from volunteer managers, like you, who respond directly to the requests.  

 

Read Volunteer Canada’s blog on 9 things charities want companies to know about asking to volunteer to see the group’s insights from the session.

Tags:  advice  best practises in volunteer engagement  corporate volunteering  supervising volunteers  volunteer coordination  volunteer management  volunteer managers  volunteer program  volunteer programs 

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How To Help Your Volunteers Succeed Through Peer Mentorship - Template Thursday

Posted By Sammy Feilchefeld, Training Coordinator, February 9, 2017
Updated: February 8, 2017
 Template Thursday


 

For this Template Thursday, we’re taking a look at volunteer mentorship. Volunteer mentors can provide support to new and developing volunteers by using their experience, knowledge and expertise. In this template, consider the ways you’d want mentors to help volunteers succeed, and possibilities for mentors to keep volunteers from failing. Learn more about mentorship in our newest resource guide & workbook “Volunteer Communities Mentorship,” available free to all Volunteer Toronto Subscribers.

 

 

 Volunteer mentors - support for new volunteers in your organization

 

In-house Training 

As Volunteer Toronto's Training Coordinator, Sammy Feilchenfeld develops and delivers in-person, online and on-demand training in order to support managers and coordinators of volunteers in Toronto’s non-profit and charitable organizations.

Tags:  supervising volunteers  volunteer management  volunteer mentorship  volunteer program  volunteer recruitment  volunteer retention  volunteer training 

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Design Thinking: An Innovative Way To Approach Your Volunteer Program

Posted By Christine Martin, Senior Manager, Volunteer Engagement, Evergreen, November 18, 2016
 Ways to innovate your volunteer program

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Design is everywhere in our lives – from websites to buildings to smartphones. The mindsets and processes that have been behind them are now being applied to everything from the retail experience to health care to education. But what about volunteer engagement and the non-profit sector more broadly? It’s time to add to our toolboxes in this area so we can adapt and improve to meet the challenges of an ever-changing sector, in an ever-changing world.

But what is design thinking?  At its heart, it’s a practice that uses a host of creative tools and approaches to identify and solve problems for the benefit of users. It’s about improving products, processes and services.  It’s collaborative. It is human-centred. It’s creative. It focuses on action.  And it has huge potential to transform volunteer engagement. 

We all want volunteer engagement to be amazing and add value – for our volunteers, for our staff and of course, for our organization’s clients and mission.    In a way, each of these groups are “users” of volunteer services. Through applying design thinking, we can open up new possibilities for these users, resulting in a better experience for staff and volunteers. At Evergreen, it’s about putting myself in the volunteer’s shoes – what is it like when they look for an opportunity? What are they experiencing on their first day of volunteering? How might we make it better?

By exploring what’s possible, looking at the whole system and digging into our challenges, we can take volunteering to a whole new level. So, pull together a diverse, collaborative team and follow these key stages for a design-thinking approach:


EMPATHIZE: Really understand your users and their experiences and challenges


DEFINE: Use this understanding to be clear about the real problem you want to address


IDEATE: Come up with as many solutions as possible – encourage divergent thinking, no judgement, then narrow it down.


PROTOTYPE: Explore how the possible solution might look; work using physical objects or models.  This will help stimulate better conversation to surface new insights, questions and needs.


TEST: Try it out with your user – how is it working?  How can we improve?

 

The design thinking world is full of tools. Tools like brainstorming and interviewing will feel familiar while point-of-view madlibs or how to draw toast might seem downright strange. However, two key tools really stand out with potential for innovating volunteer engagement:  empathy mapping and journey mapping. 

 

EMPATHY MAPPING

Using deep knowledge of your volunteers, ideally from direct observation and interaction, you can synthesize this knowledge into four key quadrants: what a volunteer is saying and doing and what it seems they are thinking or feeling – use this to help identify needs and insights better.

Here's an example of what an Empathy map can look like:

 Empathy Map Example
 From David Leetch Ed Tech

 

Here’s a few more examples of Empathy Maps:

DSchool

Desiging A New Way of Thinking: A New Approach to Solving Social Problems - Charity Village



JOURNEY MAPPING

Imagining a persona of a volunteer, map out their actions/experiences with you as a volunteer over time. Along a parallel timeline, map the moments when the volunteer is interacting with you organization – virtually or in person and what the volunteer attitudes and needs might be at various steps. Where are the pain points?  What stands out? What are possible solutions?

Here's one example of a journey map:

 Journey Map Example
 From 7 Things To Consider When Designing A CX Journey Mapping Workshop

 

Here’s a few more examples: 

Designing CX

IDEO

 

The field of design thinking is rich and deep and proving to be incredibly powerful for innovation and for organizations to thrive. Imagine if this were applied to how we engage volunteers and work with stakeholders and clients. Imagine if we could quickly identify and adapt to emerging trends and opportunities.  Imagine if you had a ready toolkit to identify the hard questions and transform your organization.  Imagine.

 

Christine Martin is the leader and designer behind Evergreen’s dynamic and varied volunteer engagement which engages over 7000 volunteer a year in about 70 different roles across the country, and especially at Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto. She’s committed to equipping and empowering volunteers and staff to reach their potential in partnering together to achieve great things. She loves to apply innovation, facilitation and collaboration approaches to all aspects of her work and to share this with others to help them thrive.

Tags:  Design thinking  empathy mapping  innovative thinking for volunteer management  journey mapping  volunteer management  volunteer program 

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INFOGRAPHIC: How Setting Expectations Can Make Giving Volunteer Feedback A Breeze

Posted By Kasandra James, Subscriptions Coordinator, August 4, 2016
Updated: August 3, 2016
 

Infographic: How Setting Expectations Can Make Giving Volunteer Feedback A Breeze 

 


As Volunteer Toronto’s Subscriptions Coordinator, Kasandra James is the first point of contact for non-profits looking for support. She facilitates monthly Subscriber Circles - discussion groups for managers and coordinators of volunteers, contributes to our Sector Space newsletter and social media communications, and makes sure our subscriptions package continues to help non-profit organizations build capacity through volunteer involvement. 

 

Tags:  Volunteer Feedback  Volunteer Management  Volunteer Program 

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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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Preparing Your Short-Term Volunteer Roles

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, Training Coordinator, October 21, 2015
Updated: October 19, 2015
 
Estimated reading time - 3 minutes              

 

Currently, short-term volunteering is one of the biggest trends in volunteer management. More and more volunteers want to make a bigger impact in a shorter time-frame – maybe they can’t commit to long-term or recurring programs, or maybe they’re drawn to the shorter event or activity you’re running. Either way, volunteer managers, and coordinators want to know how to engage this new crop of short-term volunteers.

As Volunteer Toronto’s Training Coordinator, I meet a lot of volunteer managers and coordinators from different kinds of organizations. Some manage a few volunteers who’ve stayed on for years and years. Others bring in a thousand volunteers for two weeks and then may not see a lot of them again! In providing training and materials to help all kinds of volunteer managers do their jobs well, I’ve found the best approach is to cater to as many kinds of volunteer needs as possible.

Today, we’re releasing our newest Resource Guide & Workbook on Short-Term Volunteers. In preparing the workbook, I could see the need for this kind of information was growing as Toronto already has many festivals, single day events, short-term and seasonal volunteer activities.  You might need volunteers for your sports league that only lasts a couple of months, or you might need a lot of volunteers for a big fundraising event for one night. On top of all those events and seasonal programs, more and more volunteer managers and coordinators are seeing the value of setting up short-term projects for volunteers who want to make a big impact without a long-term commitment. How do you prepare these volunteers for their roles? And perhaps more importantly, how do you prepare your organization for short term volunteers?

To help get you started, here are a few tips straight from our new Resource Guide & Workbook:

 

  1. Screen every volunteer – even if the volunteer is short-term and may be contributing 6 hours on only one day, you must always find a way to screen your volunteers to make sure it’s a good fit – get help from existing or program volunteers to conduct phone interviews or better review applications

  2. Train every volunteer – while not every volunteer will be available for an in-person orientation, have all materials available to every volunteer through a handbook or website; you need to make sure your volunteers know and follow your basic rules and procedures and know enough about your organization and who they serve to be a good ambassador

  3. Supervise every volunteer – if your event or activity has more than a handful of volunteers, it could be very difficult to provide supervision for all of them; make sure you have senior volunteers, staff, board members and/or others you can rely on to supervise and oversee volunteer operations.

Knowing where your organization – and your volunteer program – stands in working with short-term volunteers can help you engage more of them, in ways that are both rewarding for them and helpful for your organization.

To learn more about how to deal with the challenges of engaging short-term volunteers, get better prepared for engaging them effectively, and learn some promising practices from Toronto organizations, check out our brand new Resource Guide & Workbook on Short-Term Volunteers – FREE for all Volunteer Toronto Subscribers!

Not a subscriber? Find out how subscribing to Volunteer Toronto can help you achieve volunteer management greatness!

 
As Volunteer Toronto's Training Coordinator, Sammy develops and delivers in-person, online and on-demand training in order to support managers and coordinators of volunteers in Toronto’s non-profit and charitable organizations. 

Tags:  Short-Term Volunteers  supervising volunteers  volunteer engagement  Volunteer Management  volunteer program  volunteer recognition  Volunteer Retention  volunteer training 

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Advice For A New Volunteer Manager - Jade Pichette

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, October 15, 2015
Updated: October 14, 2015

In the lead-up to International Volunteer Managers Day on November 5th, we decided to help the novices in the field with a little advice from those who remember what it's like to be new at Volunteer Management. 

Every Thursday until November 5th we'll be releasing a new episode! 


Check out our third installment with advice from Jade Pichette, Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator at Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives



What advice would you give? Write your thoughts in the comments section below.

Tags:  advice  supervising volunteers  The6ix  tips  volunteer coordination  volunteer engagement  Volunteer Management  volunteer program  volunteerism 

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