It’s a Date – 19 October 2016 AVM Conference

Plans are coming together nicely for the AVM Conference in 2016.  We’ve already lined up some exciting keynote speakers and workshop sessions.

Amongst our keynote speakers will be:

  • Sir Stephen Bubb, Chief Executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations – http://www.acevo.org.uk.  Sir Stephen received a knighthood in 2011 for his services to the voluntary sector.
  • Julie Bentley, Chief Executive of Girlguiding.   In April 2014, Julia was named as one of Britain’s most influential women in the BBC Woman’s Hour power list 2014

Workshops will include:

  • Volunteers and the Law delivered by Mark Restall author of the Volunteering England publication Volunteers and the Law.
  • A look at some new research conducted by the National Trust and De Montfort University on the differences between managing paid staff and volunteers

So keep the date free and watch out for more news on the conference in the coming months.

The venue will be the same as last year, the Royal National Hotel, London, close to Euston and Kings Cross stations.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

AVM Conference Team

Helping the third sector through volunteering

Measuring performance is something all organisations are required to do. For volunteer managers this may be built into business plans. In this post, Felicity McLeister, Pro Bono O.R. Project Manager, looks at the challenging issue of how you actually measure performance and demonstrate the impact your volunteers have on your organisation and/or its beneficiaries.

Time is always a pressure, especially in the third sector and we are often under pressure to ‘do more with less’.  Collating and analysing data, planning strategy, improving processes and measuring impact are areas in which you can measure performance. However these require time and in many cases specialist skills.

Having an outside perspective can be incredibly helpful but often not an option due to costs. The project I manage, Pro Bono O.R. (operational research), addresses these issues either by assisting volunteer managers directly or their organisation as a whole.

Pro Bono O.R. was launched by The OR Society in 2013. The scheme places volunteer analysts in short term projects that make operational improvements to third sector organisations across the UK.

Operational Research uses a scientific approach to improve an organisations effectiveness.  Areas include: strategy, systems, processes, operations and decision-making.

Improving Performance Measurement

One charity Pro Bono O.R. worked with, found being a small organisation where everyone had to be flexible about their roles meant it was easy to get bogged down in daily operations and not devote enough time to strategy and growth.

The approach the volunteer analyst took was to begin by defining the key business processes. They then broke these down into key activities.

Staff were asked to identify how their time was spent against each of these activities. The resulting analysis revealed a mismatch between what the director felt was needed and how the team actually spent its time.

Several options were developed for restructuring roles and workloads. These options were presented to the trustees and a preferred option was selected.

The analysis of processes highlighted the need for a single CRM (customer relationship management) system which would replace having to manage four separate databases.

A cloud-based CRM solution was implemented and tailored to the trust’s requirements. It enabled them to eliminate data duplication and to create timely and accurate performance reports.

The solution was threefold:

  • A review of business processes and analysis of how everyone in the team was spending their time.
  • A redesign of roles and responsibilities to enable the director to focus her time on fundraising and strategy.
  • Implementation of a CRM system with performance metrics and reporting.

The project had a number of benefits:

  1. By understanding where everyone spent their time, it became clear that the director was overloaded with operational matters that could be better dealt with by other team members.
  2. Freeing up the director’s time and restructuring everyone’s roles and responsibilities enabled the trust to focus its efforts more effectively on fundraising.
  3. The CRM system provided an effective way to manage relationships with donors and beneficiaries, and provided up-to-the-minute performance reports on fundraising

Often managers and teams may be operating at a level that is satisfactory. However, there is always room for improvement.

Having the time to dedicate to reviewing processes is often not a luxury afforded to volunteer managers or third sector organisations which may be lacking in both capacity and the specialist skills required.

Further information on Pro Bono O.R., including how to request support. 

Alternatives to the traditional Corporate Volunteering approaches: 10th December

AVM Network Day 10th December: Alternatives to the traditional (and tired…) Corporate Volunteering approaches of team building days.

  • Are you thinking about how you can get the most out of your Corporate Volunteering?
  • Do you think the traditional model of Teams painting halls and planting trees is tired and out dated?
  • Do you think we fail to make the best use of skills that Corporates have to offer?

This event is kindly supported and hosted by the Jewish Volunteering Network

  • Jewish Volunteering Network
  • 44a Albert Road, London NW4 2SJ

Book your ticket


Programme

10:00 am Arrivals, Tea and coffee and Informal networking

10:30 am Welcome from AVM

10:35 am Structured networking

11:00 am – Why does understanding volunteering matter to corporates?

Peter Massey – Budd UK

A friend, on the board of a bank, was faced with this dilemma. “We spend enormous amounts of management time, effort & money trying to motivate our staff to give their best performance. And according to our employee surveys we do ok but….. But when we gave our employees free reign and asked them to raise £2m for a charity, they raised £10m in a week. Surely we can learn something from that?”

How can charities get the most out of working with corporates in this way?

12.00 pm Lunch

12:45 pm – A practical approach to building alternative corporate partnerships

Geraldine McCarthy – Age UK Camden

Finalist – Third Sector Awards – Volunteer Manager of the Year

Winner – Age UK John Ramsey Award 2015 for Inspirational Volunteer Management

  • What do you do to respond to one off requests
  • How to deal with Organisations without Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes
  • How to bring Colleagues for the Journey
  • Not losing sight on the End Game

1.30 pm Open Space (with tea and coffee)

An opportunity for attendees to lead or request discussions on topics relevant to them, drawing on peer support to explore challenges and celebrate successes

2.30 pm Final comments and evaluation

3.00 pm Close

Book your ticket

AVM Conference 2015 – slides

The following is an overview of the AVM Conference Programme 2015 (PDF):

Tweets from delegates at the AVM Conference 2015 #AVM15


An age of opportunity for volunteer managers and the sector

Lynne Berry – Chair, Commission on the Voluntary Sector and Ageing

Lynne Berry – slides


Harnessing the voice of the volunteer

Oonagh Aitken – CEO, Volunteering Matters

Oonagh Aitken – slides


Workshop A – Accessibility in action: sharing good practice on involving volunteers with disabilities

Anne-Marie Zaritsky – Mencap

Emily Hughes – Parkinson’s

A – Accessibility – slides


Workshop B – Securing board and CEO engagement and approval for your volunteering strategy

Chris Reed – Barnado’s

B – CEO engagement – slides

B – Engagement strategy


Workshop C – Grow your charity online – how your organisation can grow it’s online reach

Naomi Sesay – The Media Trust

Slides coming


Workshop D – Volunteer management: the essentials

Sheila Norris – Camden Volunteer Centre

Evelyn Rodrigues – Tower Hamlets Volunteer Centre

D – Vol Man Essentials – slides


Workshop E – Engaging student volunteers

Rosie Hunnam – NUS

Tony Payne – Student Volunteering Network and Canterbury College Students’ Union

E – Engaging student vols – slides


Workshop F – Strategic volunteering that pays – a new approach to employer supported volunteering for charities

Sophie Martin – Age UK

F – Employer supported vol – slides

2015 AVM Conference is Go!

keep-calm-and-carry-onBookings are now open for the 2015 AVM Conference on the 14 October at the Royal National Hotel, London, close to Euston and Kings Cross stations.

UPDATE: Conference is now fully booked

Eventbrite page here.

This promises to be a popular and exciting event so book early to avoid disappointment as last year’s conference sold out.

This year we have another packed agenda for you but also with plenty of time for you to network with other delegates something we know you all appreciate.  Our keynote speakers this year are Lynne Berry – Chair Commission on the Voluntary Sector & Aging  and Oonagh Aitken – CEO, Volunteering Matters.  There is a choice of six workshops throughout the day delivered by experts in their field and covering topics such as:

  • Accessibility in Action: sharing good practice on involving volunteers with disabilities
  • Securing board and CEO engagement and approval for your volunteering strategy
  • Corporate volunteering including charging models, using skilled corporates.

This is an event really not to be missed – even if we do say so ourselves.  Where else can you get a full one day conference dedicated to all things to do with volunteer management and lunch in central London from £80!

Don’t take our word for how useful this conference can be for those who manage/lead volunteers here is what attendees at last year’s conference had to say:

  • Unlike most conferences, this one was inspiring and full of healthy and useful debate
  • Very welcoming and well run event with excellent relevant content
  • Great external speakers and thought provoking workshops
  • I went away feeling inspired, motivated and with more confidence
  • Everything about it was excellent – the speakers, the seminars, the venue, the networking opportunities
  • It was my first time attending an AVM conference, and it was thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile
  • Really useful to meet with my peers and discuss volunteer management
  • Great Networking and good workshops.

We look forward to seeing you at this year’s conference.

AVM Conference Team – Alan, Addam, Wendy, Steve, Anne-Marie and Karen ….

Your AVM Wants You!

We-Want-You

It’s that time of year again where we invite AVM members to step forward, become a Director and help us take AVM forward as an organisation.

Now is an exciting time to both be joining AVM and indeed be a part of the Board of Directors.  AVM has exciting plans for it’s development over the next 12 months and we are looking for up to 4 new Directors to join and support us in meeting this challenge.  We are specifically looking for people with the following skills to join the board:

  • Marketing & Promotion of an organisation
  • Fundraising – seeking and securing funding
  • Information Technology – website/social media etc.
  • Finance – been a Treasurer
  • Organisational leadership
  • Leading and delivering change in an organisation
  • Media relations and engagement

If you have any of these skills or indeed know a member who does we’d love you /them to consider joining the AVM Board.  AVM cannot function without you it’s members stepping up and helping to shape your organisation.

If you are interested please read the attached AVM Directors Election Pack (link below). You’ll find all you need to know in here and also who to contact if you’d like to have an informal chat about what is involved.  Don’t delay as nominations close on the 4th September at 6pm.

AVM Directors Elections Pack 2015

We look forward to hearing from you.

Your AVM

Member Exclusive Event September 7th – Book Your Place Now!

Engaging senior leaders in volunteering:  workshop, book launch and drinks reception

AVM are pleased to host an exclusive event for AVM members to launch the new UK Edition of “From The Top Down – The Executive Role in Successful Volunteer Involvement”, written by Rob Jackson and Susan J Ellis.

First published in 1986 and now completely updated for the UK this classic book explores the importance of senior leadership commitment to volunteer involvement and Susan and Rob will be launching the new UK edition at this exclusive event for AVM members on September 7.

Event details below and you can book our place here.  Hurry as places are limited to 40.

Date:                     September 7 2015

Time:                    3.30 – 7.00pm

Venue:                 Girlguiding, Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0PT

Agenda:

3.30pm               Registration

 

4.00pm               Welcome from Girlguiding        

Girlguiding involve over 100k volunteers in their work with girls and young women, including their most senior volunteer, the Chief Guide.  Chief Executive Julie Bentley will welcome us to their newly refurbished venue and reflect on her own personal commitment to volunteering.

 

4.15pm                 Workshop:  Engaging Senior Leaders in volunteering:  why it matters and how to do it successfully.  (Rob Jackson and Susan J. Ellis)

Drawing on contents from the book Rob and Susan will lead a workshop aimed at increasing awareness of the need to engage senior leaders and offering practical tips on how to do this well.      If you have ever struggled to get your Directors and CEOs interested and engaged in issues of volunteer management and leadership this workshop is for you.

 

6.00pm                 Book launch and drinks reception           

Susan will introduce the book and all attendees will receive a signed copy and have the opportunity to discuss this informally over drinks.

7.00pm                 Close

Learning for life

The other day I went to an event for professional associations on what I thought would be a fairly dry theme: continuing professional development (CPD). A topic to get the pulse racing on a weekday morning without the need for caffeine if ever there was one!

However, behind the fairly grey acronym is something really profound and golden. At its heart, CPD is really about how we aspire to live and work.

The learning we do throughout our professional careers has a huge impact on how we’re able to approach work-life balance and ultimately, what we’re able to accomplish as professionals. As Prof Andy Friedman of PARN calls it – CPD is essentially: “Lifelong learning for professionals”.

Changing shape of careers

This shift in how CPD is viewed is set against common trends affecting all kinds of professions, such as the decline of the single career trajectory, the increase in transitions and change we can expect as we go through our career, and the longer working life we have ahead of us. Many of us in volunteer management would recognise these trends.

If the shape of careers has changed, so has understanding about how learning works.

For example, it’s no longer education, it’s learning – where the primary responsibility for this learning lies with us as individuals, not our employers or organisations. There’s also the huge growth in the amount of informal learning out there and the fact our learning happens in an increasingly complex and fast-changing environment.

Hilary Lindsay has written a book that addresses many of these questions: “Adaptability: The Secret of Lifelong Learning”. Her background is in the accountancy profession where she is now Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) Vice President, as well as a researcher and lecturer at The Open University. She has a huge range of experience including volunteering with Samaritans for over 20 years.

If you just read the word ‘accountancy’ and thought “what could this book have that’s relevant to volunteer management?” – hear me out.

Hilary’s research has led to her developing a very interesting model of professional learning that can help us all as individuals organise our learning as professionals.

A new dimension

She looked at three dimensions of learning as recognised in the academic literature:

  • Cognitive learning – concerned with the acquisition of knowledge, skills and understanding through thinking (learning through thinking)
  • Interpersonal learning – related to interaction with others and with the environment and to areas such as participation, engagement, communication and cooperation (learning through doing)
  • Intrapersonal learning – involves the assimilation of learning and the development of the individual as becoming, our identity and how we see ourselves in our communities (learning through being)

Learning activities generally include each of these dimensions, but may be weighted to some more than others.

Learning activities

In the survey Hilary Lindsay carried out as part of her research, she asked about the following learning activities:

  • Attending courses, conferences and seminars
  • Reading technical material
  • Reading magazines, newspapers and journals
  • Studying online learning modules
  • Accessing the internet for information
  • Participating in workshops with peers
  • Interacting with experts
  • Doing your job on a regular basis
  • Reflecting on your performance
  • Being shown by others how to do certain activities and tasks
  • Watching and listening to others while they carry out their work

Respondents indicated that they were much more likely to recognise the learning activities towards the top of the list as professional development.

She also noted that those learning activities towards the bottom of the list that were less likely to be recognised as professional development, also tended to be more informal and more focused on learning as participation or interpersonal.

Conversely, the learning activities that were more often recognised as CPD, tended to be more formal and more weighted towards cognitive learning.

Why is this?

Well, one answer is that formal learning tends to be the most easily measurable superficially, e.g. hours on a course or number of attendances. In the last few years, there’s been a considerable move towards measuring this learning in terms of outputs (learning outcomes), rather than inputs (e.g. hours of studying). This has rather level the playing field between informal and formal learning.

A key finding of Hilary Lindsay’s research was that it demonstrated the existence of a learning iceberg, where more traditional learning activities were more visible, but at the same time, all kinds of important learning activities were hidden from view.

She made the point that many of these more hidden activities, such as learning with/from others, learning on the job and learning through reflection were often crucial to ensuring our competence as professionals. As a result it’s crucial that they are not left out of our own professional learning strategy.

She went further, indicating that even more hidden are certain attributes that make us more adaptable in our careers, such as learning to engage, explore, experiment, keep a positive attitude and have self-belief. These are attributes that we can use and make a profound difference to how we live our lives, not just how we approach our work.

What are the lessons for us in volunteer management?

Many of us with restricted training budgets or the relative lack of formal training opportunities might find it hard to empathise with an over-reliance on cognitive training.

But from another perspective, there is a real opportunity for us in volunteer management to take advantage of the prevailing trends in learning and career development.

It’s likely that a lot of us have relatively greater opportunities to engage, explore, experiment, etc., than other professions that are more heavily regulated, more highly structured and less flexible given their legacy approach to CPD.

Volunteer management professionals are potentially much better placed than others, to achieve a really balanced approach to professional learning that includes the cognitive, intrapersonal and interpersonal dimensions that sustain us in the longer term.

It’s also an opportunity to review our current learning and include many activities we do that include learning with others, learning on the job or learning through reflection. It’s possible we’re actually already doing a lot of this and with a bit of readjustment many of the activities we take part in could become hugely valuable learning for our own professional development.

Next time you review your professional learning, try reflecting on your learning from these three key perspectives:

  • Cognitive – How’s your learning equipping you with the skills your need?
  • Interpersonal – How’s your learning helping you fully engage and participate with others?
  • Intrapersonal – How’s your learning enabling you to become the professional you aspire to be

Level 5 Management of Volunteers training programme

Are you a Volunteer Manager looking for further skills development in leadership and interested in gaining a nationally recognised qualification that will challenge your thinking, expand your knowledge and support you in your role?

Starting February 2015, this programme led by Sue Jones will combine face to face workshops, action learning, coaching and on-line activities, leading to completion of a formal assessment and achievement of the ILM Level 5 Certificate in the Management of Volunteers.

For further details of the programme – see brochure.

The dates and format for the face to face learning sessions are as follows:

  • February 26th – full day workshop including programme Induction
  • March 26th – half day action learning set
  • May 21st – full day workshop
  • June 25th – full day session incorporating a half day workshop and action learning set
  • July 23rd – half day action learning set

All sessions will take place at The Gateway, Sankey Street, Warrington, Cheshire, WA1 1SR

Course fees are £1,450 per learner and include access to all learning materials, on-going tutor support, scheduled individual coaching via telephone/Skype, plus ILM registration and assessment. Lunch and refreshments are included in the cost.

For further info – see Sue Jones’ post on ivo.org.

Professional development for volunteer managers: think lateral

International Volunteer Managers (IVM) Day is the perfect opportunity for us as practitioners to reflect on our work and take stock of our professional development.

However, in some ways this is not so straightforward. The profession of volunteer management is still in the early stages of development. As a result, we lack the points of reference professionals from more established professions take for granted, such as:

  • Our area of expertise is not widely known or recognised
  • We lack a clear agreement on the scope of volunteer management as a profession
  • We’re exposed to competing practice models (e.g. are we experts, service providers or partners of volunteers and beneficiaries?)
  • Expectations in terms of continuing professional development vary widely

Where can we get our bearings as we seek to set a course through the uncharted seas of our own professional development in volunteer management?

1. Look where we’ve come from

The profession of volunteer management is in its infancy, so it’s even more important to make the most of the literature that has been written, on the professionalisation of volunteer management. Over the last 15 years or so, there have been a growing number of scholarly articles in this area.

The Right Stuff: New ways of thinking about managing volunteers” by Meta Zimmeck (2000) can help give perspective on the question of practice models from “modern management” to the “home grown” model.

Organising cultures: voluntarism and professionalism in UK charity shops” by Richard Goodall (2000) considers the meaning of “professional” in the context of volunteer management in charity shops.  Goodall argues volunteer managers could be every bit as ‘professional’ as retail managers but the nature of their expertise was not so readily recognised. An idea that still chimes with our discussion over 13 years on. Pat Gay’s “Bright Future: Developing Volunteer Management” (2001) sets out recommendations for the creation of a new professional body which are interesting to reflect on at this current stage in the development of the Association of Volunteer Managers.

Another discussion that’s useful to get in context is that of standards. “A Standards Framework for Managing Volunteers – A Report to the Voluntary Sector National Training Organisation” (2002) sets out a background to this question on what are the knowledge and skills required in volunteer management. This provided a lot of the groundwork of the National Occupational Standards for Management of Volunteers (2003).

2. Look across

Colleagues across the world have been working on strikingly similar challenges of how to develop and grow the profession of those working in volunteer management. Organisations and groups have developed different solutions – often with different emphasis – and each holds key lessons for us in the UK.

It’s inspirational to be able to read about the stories such as that of the “Volunteer Management Professionals of Canada“, an organisation with over 30 years of championing volunteer management, or the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration in the United States which has developed a popular qualification in volunteer management.

There’s also the “Australasian Association for Managers of Volunteers”, a professional network in Australasia, and “New Zealand Competencies for Managers of Volunteers”, developed by Volunteering New Zealand, a very new approach to the challenge of improving standards and training across the profession of volunteer management.

On the question of principles and values, The Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement and the Universal Declaration on the Profession (2001) made in Canada are incredibly valuable.

3. Look around

There’s a temptation to look inwards on IVM day and focus on volunteer management. However, it’s really important we don’t restrict our learning possibilities. There’s a huge amount we can learn from other professions and how they have developed. From health to the legal sector, from education and social work, from finance to project management – there are huge lessons for us. Our context is incredibly distinctive, however many of the issues we face aren’t. The professional association community is incredibly vibrant in the UK and there are huge opportunities if we can think laterally.

4. Look next to you

Your colleagues and peers are just there and in today’s world more contactable than ever. There are also sorts of ways in which you can network and learn about your profession by talking through the issues you face, with others going through similar challenges themselves.

Communities and networks such as: ivo.org, VMM, AVM and UKVPMs. There’ also NNVIA, AVSM, NAVSM. But it’s also worth similar professional networks beyond volunteer management through organisations such as PARN (Professional Associations Research Network).

5. Look forward

Finally, think about what we need as a profession that can help us all in our future professional development. If you’d be interested in helping AVM develop and curate online information and content on professional development of volunteer management, please get in touch.