Volunteers and donors come in all shapes and sizes. Start speaking each person’s language with personas.
Last month I introduced you to Trudy, the persona who helped me recruit volunteers for my program.
So now you might be thinking, “Well that sounds like a fun project. But I’m not seeing the relevance. How will a persona help me on the job?”
Personas make it much easier to market your program. Instead of guessing at what appeals to a volunteer or donor, you have a “conversation” with the ideal version of that person. You learn about their needs and wants and then show that you have the solutions they seek.
You might event want more than one persona. Volunteer managers and development directors may create multiple identities to represent different groups of stakeholders.
And that’s when it gets interesting, because your messaging changes when you are “talking” to a completely different persona.
Let’s take an example.
Persona # 1 is Max. He is the 30-something manager of a big box store that has an employee volunteer engagement mandate. Max is always looking for volunteer opportunities where his staff can team up to help family-related…
If you want more buy-in for your volunteer program, start with a reframe of those limiting beliefs.
The more I coach volunteer managers, the more convinced I become that the pride and satisfaction we gain from running a high impact volunteer program hinges around one thing.
When we’ve got the buy-in of our leadership and co-workers to engage volunteers effectively, we can move mountains. When we don’t, the lack of buy-in IS the mountain that gets in the way of progress.
The whole buy-in question has been top of mind for me since last week, when the subject came up in my Leadership Circle and at my one-day retreat. Just about every participant had a buy-in challenge that they wanted to overcome ̶ bringing staff on board with engaging more volunteers, helping a supervisor see the commitment required for an effective program, showing development staff the resource-building potential of a strong volunteer base.
These issues really weigh on us. I see how discouraged my colleagues become when they can’t figure out how to turn things around. And I see how motivated they feel when they learn strategies that help them reach…
She’s back! Guest blogger Liza Dyer shares another one of the tech tools she uses for managing volunteers. If you try this one, you may wonder how you ever lived without it.
Is your to-do list a mile long? Are you unsure where that new volunteer is in the onboarding process? If these questions sound familiar, you may benefit from the tech tool Trello.
According to Trello, it’s “the easy, free, flexible, and visual way to manage your projects and organize anything.” As with many cloud-based services, Trello has various pricing levels for advanced features. For my purposes I’ve gotten everything I need out of the free version.
A little lingo might be useful before we get much further:
- Board – This is the basis for everything. You can have different boards for different projects. I have several boards including ones for weekly projects, communication planning, and volunteer recruitment.
- Lists – Many lists can be on a single board. Each list houses cards. For my weekly projects board I have the following lists: ‘Workin’ On It’, ‘Priority’, and ‘To Do.’ For the recruitment board I have these lists: ‘Currently Recruiting’,…
You don’t need six arms to get all your work done. Here’s a better way to start.
Sometimes what we really need to improve our volunteer management is a better handle on our workload – and sometimes we need a technological assist to get there.
That was the case for Barb Sheffer, CVA, a volunteer manager who decided to get intentional about taming her to do list. Barb is a member of my Leadership Circle, a group of talented volunteer engagement pros who are so committed to their work that they meet once a month to refine and expand on their skills.
Barb is the Volunteer Program Director for a national non-profit. She has a big job, managing volunteer programs locally and across the globe– a total of 4,000 volunteers worldwide.
It’s no surprise that Barb’s plate is beyond full on a daily basis. In addition to managing volunteers, she is responsible for the procedural part of the job (the unglamorous stuff like keeping manuals and job descriptions up to date) and for the big picture statistical analysis and forecasting that keeps her program aligned with the organization’s mission….
Leaving my volunteer management job was like starting a journey towards an exciting new POV
What can happen in fifteen months – besides another birthday, more gray hairs, and 53 blog posts under your belt?
That was the question that I posed to myself this week, when I decided it was time to take stock of what was different since I left I left my volunteer management job in March 2015 and went full-time as a trainer and writer about volunteer engagement.
It took about half a second to land on the biggest shift – and that’s my point of view about what’s possible in this profession. I came to this work from a CASA program, where we specialized in one type of volunteer – and switched to supporting the work of colleagues in all kinds of organizations where volunteers hold every imaginable type of position.
What I’ve found is that my new POV has less to do with transitioning out of hands-on management and more to do with my relationship to my peers. As a trainer, it’s my job help my colleagues become as capable and professional…
Guest blogger Laura Rundell shares her super-practical tips for conducting volunteer performance reviews that are worth the effort
There has been lots of discussion as a profession about how managing volunteers differs from managing paid staff. That could really be a topic for another conversation entirely. In order to manage your corps of volunteers effectively, I would argue that, just as we do for paid staff, volunteers need some formal performance review or evaluation process.
You may be wondering, though:
Why should I add one more item to my already overflowing plate?
Most volunteer managers don’t have a lot of extra time on their hands to take on one more task. However, conducting a formal evaluation meeting with volunteers helps achieve the following goals:
• It helps to ensure that the placement is a good fit for the staff and volunteer. There may be some volunteers who are reliable and consistent, but may benefit from a change in assignment. An annual review is a good time to assess their current placement.
• It lets volunteers know that they are accountable for meeting the expectations of the program and the assignment.
Great things happen for our programs when our work aligns with what we love to do
The more I work with volunteer engagement pros, the more I come to believe that we grow as our programs grow.
Take my friend and colleague Nikki Clifford. Nikki had never thought of herself as a volunteer manager. For many years she worked as an administrative assistant and then as a meeting planner – as someone focused on the operational side of things, implementing the ideas of others more than getting her own projects off the ground.
Meanwhile, Nikki found herself drawn to volunteering. She became involved with Single Volunteers of DC, a group that brings singles together to volunteer for nonprofit events. She loved the group so much that she volunteered to run the entire venture, managing dozens of events each month and coordinating hundreds of volunteers. She even met her husband, John, on an SVDC event.
But Nikki still pursued meeting planner positions, thinking that her volunteer pursuits were something she enjoyed on the side, more like a hobby than a profession.
All that changed when she saw a notice for…
If you are a volunteer manager and really enjoy what you do, but you’re considering a job change because of low pay or lack of buy-in for your program, I encourage you to do something.
Stick around for a while.
I say this after taking another look at an infographic that Liza Dyer, CVA had posted for a Volunteer Management Thoughtful Thursday blog back in December.
Followers were asked to post to a Wall of Words about what it means to be a leader of volunteers. Liza is a Program Coordinator in Volunteer Services for the Multnomah County Library and a frequent Twenty Hats guest blogger.
Here’s what Liza posted.
You probably get right away why Liza’s motto stands out. So many of us come to our positions in a roundabout way, approaching volunteer management because we’re good with people or want to do something purpose-driven – or because it’s a pleasant job to keep until we figure out what we really want to do with our lives.
And then sometimes, through what Liza calls “a series of yesses”,…
When a video complements a live orientation, the results are powerful
I had dinner with my friend Gena the other night. What’s great about Gena is that she has managed volunteers – she knows all about the potential of volunteers to expand an organization’s mission and effect real change — and she does a lot of volunteering herself. So when she praised her recent experience as part of a volunteer group with DC Central Kitchen, I listened.
One of the things that impressed Gena the most was the video that her group watched before they jumped into their kitchen duties. She thought the video did a great job of training them for their volunteer role in the kitchen while introducing them to all of the great programs that the Kitchen offers.
That got me curious. Video training is an idea that gets tossed around a lot. A well-produced video has the potential to save time for busy volunteer managers, especially those who run large or understaffed programs.
But there is a downside to shifting things to video that experienced volunteer engagement pros know all too well: when…
Conference season is beginning. Will you need to calculate some measures to attend?
Every now and then, I like to stop in and check out a roundtable that’s held by our cousins in the nonprofit world, the development folks. More often than not, the discussion circles around a topic that applies just as much to volunteer engagement as it does to fundraising.
This topic certainly fit the bill. We talked about conferences: which ones we go to, what we get out of them, and how do we demonstrate the value to our employers?
It was this last question that really caught my attention because it gets right to the heart of an even bigger question:
Who is responsible for professional development? Us – or our employers?
I tend to see professional development as a personal investment. Work has always been a path for my growth – not just in building the practical skills that I need for a particular position, but in showing me that I am capable of more than I ever imagined. And whenever I attend a conference of training, I re-align and get energized abut my greater purpose, to serve communities with the power of…