AVM welcomes the arrival of Helpforce

The Association of Volunteer Managers welcomes the arrival of Helpforce into the sector. Volunteering is an important part of the fabric of health and social care with an estimated 3 million people volunteering regularly.

The health service is facing unprecedented demand. There is no doubt that volunteering in health will and must increase. A balanced and strategic approach is essential to future-proof our health service.

Volunteers don’t only play a greater role in supporting NHS staff, they also connect and empower communities.

To be sustainable, volunteers should be offered opportunities which are rewarding, flexible and suited to their skills. Volunteer managers must share their experience and learning; a cohesive approach is fundamental to success.

GDPR & IG – What will be the impact and are we ready for it?

An AVM L&D event, 23 January 2018, 1pm – 5pm Click here to book

This event will enable you to health check your own preparations for the new regulations and compare notes with others.  We will also hear from organisations with recent, relevant experience: RNLI chose to implement the new GDPR regulations almost 1 year ago – what have they learned and what do they recommend?; Alzheimers Society have specific experience of data usage issues, having received an Enforcement Notice from the Information Commissioner -how did they deal with the broader impact, and how did they put the experience to good use in their own GDPR preparations.

Tom Payne and Esme Chapman, Data Governance Analysts of RNLI,  Kate Adams, Head of Volunteering and Amy Symons, Volunteering Support Manager of Alzheimers Society will share their experiences for the benefit of all.

The ‘experts’ suggest that no-one can be sure they are fully prepared until their preparations are put into practice. However there are some key areas and parameters relevant to all. Paul Jennings, partner at BWB law firm, will guide us through the legalities of GDPR.

The event will cover all the key points, as well as some of the less obvious implications:

What will be the impact on volunteers and volunteer managers, as opposed to fundraisers? Do we need data on existing volunteers to attract and recruit new volunteers? Do volunteering and fundraising departments need to coordinate their data management far more effectively, to avoid overloading the same supporters?

There will be table discussions and networking opportunities. Come and share your experiences, concerns and expectations. Book now 

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See Eventbrite page for full details (click on the image above)

#iwillWeek -November 20th to 24th: save the date and get involved!

Following the seminar that Andy Chaggar and the team delivered at the AVM conference we wanted to remind you to save the date! #iwillWeek 2017 is November 20th – 24th. Building communities through youth social action. What will you be doing? Get inspired and get involved. Here is the #iwillWeek webpage  http://www.iwill.org.uk/get-involved/iwillweek-2017/ for further information.

As part of our support for the campaign AVM will:

  • Harness our links with AVM members to promote support for the campaign
  • Address challenges faced by volunteer managers supporting young people in social action
  • Seek to encourage Government to support volunteer management as part of its commitment to volunteering and to the #iwill campaign

Our Pledge For International Volunteer Managers’ Day 2017

Today AVM is marking International Volunteer Managers’ Day with an organisational pledge dedicated to the community of UK leaders of volunteers.

Our pledge: We pledge to empower, enable and amplify the voice of all managers of volunteers across the UK.

Every year 5 November marks International Volunteer Managers’  Day, an opportunity to talk about and thank those who work to make volunteering happen across charities and communities, in ground-level sport, in the public sector, and in all other settings where volunteers contribute their time and talents.

The 2017 theme is Be The Voice, with a call to action to make a pledge, either individually or as an organisation.

AVM chair Ruth Leonard said: “We think it’s important to lead the pledges by affirming our commitment to volunteer managers on this very special day of the year.”

You can make a personal pledge by visiting the official website, or join us in central London on Tuesday for networking and to make your own pledge amongst VM colleagues.

Exploring Digital Technology for volunteer management. An L&D event.

5 December, 10:30 – 4:30, Arlington Conference Centre. Click here to book.

Sponsored by Better Impact.

Rob Jackson will host the second in our series of Embracing Digital events. In response to member feedback, this L&D event will address a range of digital tools that can assist volunteer managers and benefit organisations. From CRM and database management systems to webinars and e-learning tools, we will consider some of the most effective and economic digital technology available.

Whether you are considering which digital technology could best help the ongoing development of your volunteer programme, or whether you are already implementing your chosen solution, this event will be ideal. Both a showcase for digital possibilities and a forum for discussion.

This is an all day event, with presentations from specialists as well as organisations that are currently using and experimenting with digital technology. Attendees are invited to share their own experiences and opinions and get fully involved with round table discussions and  interactive activities.

Presenters include: Rob Jackson; Tony Goodrow of Better Impact; Daisy Charlton of Macmillan Cancer Support; Ed Shrager of Alzheimer’s UK; Jonathon Henwood of RNIB; and live by satellite from America, Jayne Cravens

network-358062_960_720-2.jpg   Click here for full agenda or to book

Exploring Digital Technology for volunteer management, an AVM L&D event, is sponsored by Better Impact.

Better Impact Click here for Better Impact website

The Community Life Survey 2017: Are volunteering levels dropping, or is the real issue about how we count and define volunteering?

The Community Life Survey: What is volunteering and how do we count it? An L&D event

16 November, 1- 5pm at Voluntary Action Islington (VAI), N1 9JP. Click here.

The Community Life Survey is presented as the government’s overview of volunteering nationwide, but is there universal agreement on what volunteering actually is and how best to measure it? If you want to incorporate data in your own reports, what’s the best data to use and the most effective way to present it?

This L&D event will give the government’s Lead Researcher, Olivia Christophersen, the opportunity to explain the reasoning behind the government survey, explain the change in methodology and present her interpretation of the results. She will explain what the government is aiming to measure, how it defines the parameters of volunteering and how and why they have progressively switched to online questionnaires.

Cian Murphy, Head of Data Science at nfpSynergy, will present an alternative perspective on measuring volunteering, drawing on more than 15 years of collecting relevant data. As well as presenting trends and analysis, he will consider the challenges in determining what constitutes volunteering, and why such varied conclusions result.

Finally, Veronique Jochum, Head of Research at NCVO, will deliver a presentation on how these survey results are used to improve understanding of how people get involved in volunteering, transitioning from past behaviour to future decision making and engagement. She will discuss various publications that utilise the survey results, including NCVOs latest: ‘Getting involved: How people make a difference’

As always, there will be networking and discussion, with opportunities for everyone to get involved and share their own experiences, challenges and opinions.

Click here for more details or to book your place.

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The Community Life Survey: What is volunteering, and how do we count it? 16 November, London N1 9JP

AVM Grows Its Voice With New Chair and Five New Board Members

At this week’s AGM the Association of Volunteer Managers welcomed a new chair and five new members of the board, as the organisation looked to grow its voice for the volunteer management profession.

Founding member Debbie Usiskin stood down from both the position of chair and the board after ten years, and announced her successor as Ruth Leonard.

Ruth’s first task after the announcement was to share the results of the board elections, where successful candidates Jo Gibney, Daniel Ingram and Karen Ramnauth were all appointed to three-year terms on the board. While four board places were being contested, following a draw for fourth place the AGM resolved to appoint the two drawing candidates Angela Wilson and Rachel Ball to two year terms as directors.

Ruth said: “We’d like to wish a heartfelt thanks and best wishes to Debbie Usiskin who stood down from the role of Chair of the Board at our AGM. Debbie has given an immense amount of time and commitment to AVM since our official launch and before. At the launch event 10 years ago she described ‘managing volunteers as becoming like juggling, but harder’ and it seems as if expectations are even greater on those who involve and work with volunteers today. Debbie will continue to be a great advocate of AVM and as with all our members will have a powerful part to play in the future.”

Debbie Usiskin was part of the team that conceived and founded AVM, along with John Ramsey, and served as Vice Chair from its formal registration in 2007 until taking on the role of chair two years ago. Her successor Ruth has a track record of senior level volunteer engagement and currently works as Macmillan Cancer Support’s Head of Volunteering.

The newly-elected directors help grow the varied skills and perspectives on the board, coming from an array of organisation types and management levels. Jo Gibney comes from The British Legion’s Volunteer Support Unit and holds an ILM Level 5 in Volunteer Management, Daniel Ingram comes from the animal charity Wood Green, and Karen Ramnauth brings legal training and the perspective of volunteer engagement within the NHS to the board for the first time.

In addition to Debbie, the AGM saw board members Karen Janes and Bryan Precious retire from the board, after two and three-years respectively.

On taking up the position of chair, Ruth reflected that, “We as the Board need to remember advice from the launch event’s facilitator that we need to allow AVM to grow in line with members’ wishes and as members – this is your association so you have a responsibility to help it grow – it shouldn’t be done solely by the Directors.”

In addition to Ruth and new directors Jo, Daniel, Karen, Angela and Rachel, the board of AVM currently consists of Treasurer Patrick Daniels, Chris Reed, Fiona Wallace, Rachael Bayley and Vice-Chair A.S. Maini.

AVM working with Open University to raise the profile of volunteer management.

The Open University is currently producing some material for two short courses called

Self Development for Managers and Managing People and their potential.

They would like to film some interviews with managers along the themes that are mentioned below, and have asked AVM if some of our members may be interested in being interviewed and filmed. They are  looking for people who have responsibility for managing volunteers, not necessarily  senior managers or directors . They are hoping to interview managers across a range of sectors including those managing staff as well as volunteers.

They hope to be doing some interviews over the next couple of weeks. The interviews would take about an hour or so and they would probably film either at or close to the persons place of work. They would obviously talk to the people in advance to advise them on the types of things they would want to ask them, so that interviewees are happy that they want to contribute.

The course is a short course delivered online to students and covers a number of different areas

Managing People and their potential covers:

• Welfare, Well-being and engagement at work
• Keeping healthy and Safe at work
• Understanding and Managing risks
• Work health and Well being

Self Development for Managers covers:

• Personal Development
• Time Management
• Developing a PDP
• Planning into action

Anyone interested in this should contact Amanda Willet at: amanda.willett@open.ac.uk

 

Are You in a Volunteer Management Silo?

Guest post by Susan J. Ellis


When you want to increase your volunteer leadership skills, discover new ways of doing things, or simply rekindle your energy professionally, where do you look for education and inspiration?

Acknowledging that you may have limited time and funds for professional development, do you tend to prioritize books, conferences, even Web sites that focus on the same type of setting or services in which your volunteer corps works? For example, if you involve volunteers in a hospital, do you most often go to health care resources or, if you work in a museum, do you most often go to resources for cultural arts? But where do you go when you want to be challenged or connect to the wider volunteer management profession?

While you can learn a lot from your immediate colleagues, if you rarely venture outside your “field,” you are in a silo.

The problem is that a silo is a storage facility with circular walls and no windows. Its main purpose is to preserve what’s inside, not connect it to the world outside.

Evidence of Silo Mentality

Most of us would agree that the principles and even the daily tasks of effective volunteer engagement are pretty universal. Yet, those of us who publish and plan conferences for the field know from experience that it is a hard sell to attract an audience as diverse as the field itself. Let me share two recent examples.

  • As you may know, I coordinated the on-site bookstore at the recent Summit on Volunteer Engagement Leadership in St. Paul, Minnesota. Many of the attendees were amazed at the selection and range of the books on display (about 35 titles, which doesn’t even scratch the surface, of course). Over and over, people would stand at the table, look at the books (without touching them), and ask: “What do you have on working with volunteers in _______ (my specific setting)?” When I explained that we had chosen books that were relevant to many settings, they often still did not try opening any of the books. My personal favorite was being asked: “Does this risk management book apply to volunteers in _________ (my specific setting)?” I noted that the principles of risk management are about human beings, whether employees, clients, or volunteers, and issues like screening protocols or avoiding accidents apply to all organizations.
  • The Energize calendar of volunteer management conferences actively seeks a wide variety of programs to promote. On the 21st of September, there’s an event in London, UK, sponsored by the Association of Volunteer Managers, “Winning in Volunteer Management: How Sports & Non-Profits Can Learn Together.” Here’s how they describe the day:

Volunteering and Sport have the power to change lives, but do all Volunteer Managers face the same issues? This event aims to bring together presenters and delegates from sports and non-sports volunteer organisations, to see how sharing experiences, challenges and successes can be of mutual benefit to all.

I was excited and intrigued, and the editorial team of our journal, e-Volunteerism, immediately contacted the organizers to try to develop some articles on what would be discussed. However, at the moment, the event is not attracting volunteer managers from human services or other sectors (although there is still time to register and I hope some of you will!).

I would love to be proven wrong, but unfortunately I suspect that many folks never seriously considered attending simply because they assumed they would not benefit from the program. That makes me sad at missed opportunities.

Roaming in the Volunteer World Expands Your Vision

Leaving your silo to explore the volunteer world is very much like recreational travel. You must go someplace away from the familiar to recharge your batteries, have unexpected adventures, meet new people, and come back home able to see your daily surroundings with a fresh eye. Reading a volunteer management book or spending a day in a meeting room with colleagues you have just met is not quite as broadening as a visit to the Taj Mahal, of course. But it always offers the potential to come away with new ideas.

Roger van Oech, in his wonderful book on developing creativity, A Whack on the Side of the Head, includes an exercise that I have used a number of times at the start of large conferences. He suggests imagining conversations between people from very different jobs, such as a police officer and a clown, an airline pilot and an exotic dancer, etc. The test is to find topics that they might actually have in common. So I challenge you: if you spent time talking to someone who recruits and works with volunteers in sports, what issues might you share? What might the colleague teach you? What might you teach him or her? (If you are the one in sports, let’s partner you with a leader of volunteers in a nursing home.)

Here’s my starter set of ideas:

  • Many volunteer projects want more male volunteers. Sports organizations generally have more men involved. How do they do it? Do they do anything different to recruit more female volunteers? Do they need help with that?
  • Most sports take place literally “in the field,” where games are played. How do they schedule volunteers to make sure all the needed roles are filled? How do they maintain standards of care and performance remotely?
  • What are the challenges when volunteers are related to the people being served? In other words, what are the dynamics when parents coach youth sports leagues, or parents volunteer in their children’s classroom, or adult children run programs at their older parent’s nursing home, or….? (See where this is going?)
  • What are the similarities in running large events with volunteers, whether for sports, cultural exchange, or anything else drawing a crowd?

We All Need to Have a Cross-Sector Perspective

Changing the silo status quo needs everyone’s energy. It begins with a genuine interest in things beyond the familiar. Purposely read an article or go to a workshop because you think it doesn’t relate to you! Were you right? (Remember that someday you may change jobs but still stay in volunteer leadership, so what you don’t think you can use today may become important to know later.)

Writers and presenters too often speak only from their perspective in whatever settings they have worked or studied. I frequently remind people that volunteering is not limited to the nonprofit sector and, in fact, may be even more critical to public, government agencies. In the same vein, exclusively teaching with case studies from human services ignores the innumerable volunteer activities (and equally valid examples) in animal protection, firefighting, environmentalism, sports, and so much more. Colleagues in the cultural arts especially are quite vocal about feeling left out. If you write or present, be sure you vary your vocabulary and examples.

Readers and participants, on the other hand – if they test unknown waters at all – resist having to “translate” information to their setting-specific language. Or worse, they do not ask questions during the event that would help them understand. Yet they will complain on the evaluation sheet afterwards that the material wasn’t relevant to them! So speak up. If you are unsure how an example relates to you, ask. Or offer a different example so that others also broaden their knowledge. This is good advice online as well: if what you’re viewing offers a comments section or some sort of discussion board, use it! Every site visitor will benefit and very often the source of the material will be happy to add a response to your comment, too.

Always remember, the volunteers we lead are not one-dimensional. We may know them through a hospital, a youth sports league, or an art center, but chances are excellent that they also volunteer with other organizations – certainly other members of their families do. Doesn’t this suggest we ought to see what we do as interconnected and not go back into our separate silos?


Energize Hot Topic, September 2017: “Are You in a Volunteer Management Silo?” by Susan J. Ellis – Reprinted (or excerpted) with permission.