WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

By Claire Knight
AVM member and mentoring scheme participant; Strategic Partnership Manager, Macmillan Cancer Support

When I was a child, this phrase was imbued with meaning far beyond its words.  What the adult saying it really meant was “you, young lady, are too big for your boots”.  It was intended to cut me down to size… the proper size, not the size I thought I was in that moment.  Which clearly, in their opinion, was TOO BIG.

I have recently changed jobs, and four weeks in I have found myself reflecting on where I am today.  It’s exciting. I am learning. I am contributing. But also, I feel unsure of what I am doing…was I too big for my boots when I put myself up for this job?  It doesn’t matter where we are on any ladder, being outside of our comfort zone is quite simply, uncomfortable.

The truth is, as we develop in our careers (and in our lives outside of work too), we evolve and build on who we are.  We don’t always know what we have in us until we put ourselves out there and try. We certainly don’t know what we will achieve in the future, or who we will become.  What’s important is to bravely step out of the comfort zone in the first place. The really great thing is that we can help ourselves and we can look to others for help too.

One such source of help is a mentor, someone who is more experienced, or “bigger”, we could say, than we are.  We know that they won’t laugh us out of the room. They can help us navigate our own learning through trial and error.  And the experience and perspective they have can provide priceless insight into our own situations.

Perhaps a less appreciated source of development is to become a mentor.

Picture1

I have had the privilege of being a mentor for two people in the past few years.  I’ll be honest, initially I wasn’t sure I had the skills or experience to do what it takes. In my head, a mentor was someone who had earned the right to be on that pedestal…a “bigger” person than me. But I like to think I made a difference to my mentees’ development in the time I supported them.  They have both moved on in their careers, that’s for sure.

Importantly, I learnt from the experience too.

I deepened my understanding of two specialised job roles; this broader perspective later proved helpful in securing a more senior position. I discovered who in my organisation could use their technical knowledge to help my team; this prompted me to experiment, measure and improve our web content. I improved my questioning technique to result in richer conversations; this helped me improve my line management skills and resulted in greater development for my own team.  I began to appreciate the ways my professional and personal experiences could be useful to others; this built my self awareness and confidence. Finally, on a personal level, I enjoyed getting to know two interesting, talented individuals.

In short, I am convinced that being a mentor helped me to develop in new ways, be better at my own job and ultimately to progress in my career.

The pilot mentoring scheme being developed now by the Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) is looking for people to become mentors. This exciting opportunity involves a matching process to help pair mentees with mentors, and comes with guidance, support and the chance to network with other mentors too.  

If I can share my mentoring experience with you, I would suggest it is not about being “bigger”, older or earning more. It is about having an enquiring mind and a fresh perspective. This could come from a simple difference such as being in another team, area of work, or position in a hierarchy.  If you are looking to progress your career, consider being a mentor. You would learn as much by giving as by receiving, I promise you. So go on….give it a go.

Simply tell us who you think you are and we’ll take it from there!

If you work in volunteer management and are interested in finding out more, please let us know here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/8TGXLWH

Booking glitch resolved on the July event.

Members attempting to book a place yesterday on the July event, Emotionally challenging situations for volunteer managers: what to do. may have been frustrated to be told the event was full. This was due to a small issue with the booking process that has now been resolved. There are plenty of places available, and bookable, now.

To book a place, please click here.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Measuring the health and wellbeing benefits of volunteering

By Laura Hamilton, Laura Hamilton Consulting  and Gareth Williams, LGBT Foundation
Discover more opportunities to learn about this subject, including the four videos from our Manchester event, at the end of this blog

We were super-excited to be attending AVM’s first learning and development event in Manchester and it was great to see a room packed with volunteer managers from a mix of organisations. Conversations seemed to be flowing right from the start, which we’ll put down to the double whammy of northern friendliness and being in such a beautiful venue.

Manchester1

What prompted us to attend this event? To learn from others’ experience of measuring volunteer wellbeing and to network and make links with volunteer managers from the North.  Gareth is fairly new to volunteer management, so he was really keen to get to know others working in the field.

The event was packed with content; much more than we could possibly cover in this blog. So, rather than give a blow by blow account of the day, we’ve decided to focus on the top 5 things we learned:

1. Look at the whole person
The event kicked off with a fantastic presentation from Emma Horridge and Lee Ashworth; sharing the learning from the “Inspiring Futures: volunteering for wellbeing” (IF) programme.  The programme ran across 10 heritage venues in Greater Manchester and was specifically designed to “support participants into volunteering and away from social and economic isolation”. We were so impressed by this programme and the positive outcomes and progression routes for volunteers.

We particularly liked the fact that the programme recognised the individual nature of progression and their evaluation aimed to look holistically at a person’s life, rather than just focussing on one area of impact. Interestingly, they gathered information from family members and health practitioners, as well as from the volunteers themselves. You can read and hear some of the volunteer stories from the IF programme here and learn more about their evaluation here.  

2. Time and resources matter
Whether it’s taking the time to think through your approach to measuring wellbeing, customising monitoring tools for your own programme, or securing funding to support evaluation, you’re going to need to commit some sort of resource to measuring wellbeing.  Both the IF and Kirklees Museum programmes had involved specialist organisations in the design and delivery their monitoring and evaluation around wellbeing.

Investing time and energy in measuring wellbeing does, however, help you create a powerful case for resourcing volunteering. Using a Social Return on Investment model, the IF programme was able to demonstrate that for every £1 invested in the programme, £3.50 of social and economic value was generated. Kirklees Museum used evidence of the health and wellbeing impacts of volunteering to raise their profile with their Local Authority and build links with both public health and social prescribing.  The event gave us a clear understanding of how evidencing health and wellbeing impacts helps make the case for funding and resources for volunteering.

3. It can be simple or complex
Using a Social Return on Investment model to measure wellbeing seemed like it had been a pretty complex and resource intensive process.  We were also struck by the amount of funding that had clearly been secured to support the evaluation process for the IF project and wondered whether it would be feasible to engage in this type of monitoring and evaluation with less resource available.

Kirklees took a different approach to SROI; using NEF’s “5 ways to wellbeing” as the basis for their evaluation and then undertaking semi-structured interviews with volunteers. This seemed to yield insights into the personal impact of volunteering on wellbeing and, interestingly, they found that direct health benefits were more apparent in longer term volunteers.

For those on a tight budget, there are lots of free resources available:

  • The What Works Wellbeing Centre has loads of resources around wellbeing, including a customisable questionnaire builder.
  • The IF programme website includes a whole section on good practice where they share the learning from their work.

4. Partnerships support progression

Manchester2

We were both inspired by how the IF programme had developed extensive partnerships and how these seemed to support volunteers to develop a wide range of skills and opened the door to new opportunities and progression routes. It was a helpful reminder that we can achieve great things when we work collaboratively and that creating pathways between different organisations and opportunities can be really beneficial.

5. There can be ethical issues
There was some discussion around whether volunteers find questions around wellbeing overly intrusive and whether certain questionnaires and approaches might not be suitable. It highlighted the importance of having a well thought out approach, being clear about why you are gathering information, how it will be used and stored, and being able to communicate this clearly and sensitively to volunteers and ask for their consent. It is also worth thinking through how you might signpost volunteers to other services if the questions you are asking around wellbeing bring up issues around mental health or other aspects of personal wellbeing.

Our final thoughts…
It was great to meet so many people with a passion and appreciation for volunteering and volunteers. The event helped us to build some really good links and opportunities for future partnership work. It was also great to hear the perspectives and voices of volunteers, both in the presentations and during the interactive session at the end of the day.

We also valued the fact that the event included a focus on diversity and a reminder that there is still work to be done in terms of making volunteering (and all the associated health and wellbeing benefits!) accessible to all. Since the event, we’ve been reflecting on how to make volunteering opportunities more inclusive and how to reach out to new groups and demographics.

We look forward to the next AVM event up north next year and to being part of big, strong and diverse network of volunteer managers in the North West!

The four presentations from our March event are available to AVM members, using the password in your latest AVM event email. Visit: https://volunteermanagers.org.uk/member-support/talks-and-events-archive/

Be the first to discover our new Learning & Development Days, including the ‘Measuring the health and well-being benefits of volunteering‘ event in London on 9th August:

Emotionally challenging situations for volunteer managers: what to do.

Including: emotional resilience, compassion fatigue and having difficult conversations with volunteers.

Join us for this L&D event on 10th July, 2018 at Hanbury Hall, London. Click here to book.

Managing volunteers can be an emotionally challenging experience, for a variety of reasons. We could be called upon to support volunteers in stressful situations, or to deal with uncomfortable situations caused by volunteers. These could be foreseeable or completely unexpected, but either way, are we given the support and guidance needed to cope effectively?

Having difficult conversations with volunteers can encompass everything from saying ‘No’,  to offering support and sympathy in dealing with personal crises. Being properly prepared can significantly reduce the stress involved.

This event brings together some very experienced presenters and practitioners to both discuss these challenging issues and consider some practical guidance. It is relevant to all volunteer leaders and managers and will address a broad range of potential situations, with both seminars and interactive workshops. Attendees will have plenty of opportunity to share their own experiences and discuss solutions.

Click here to book.


Other AVM events:

There are still some places left for “New approaches to involving and engaging volunteers, 12 June 2018, BRISTOL.

Click here to book or for further details.


Save the date: 18th October, 2018, AVM Conference.

This year’s conference will be the biggest and best yet! Look out for announcements about speakers and early-bird tickets.

Volunteer management and HR: a marriage of convenience or a match made in heaven?

Where should volunteer management sit within an organisation? Should it be front and centre of an operations department, firmly placed in a people directorate or simply be overseen by HR?logoPrint

What are the similarities and differences between managing volunteers and paid staff and what can HR learn from volunteer managers and vice versa?

We have teamed up with the CIPD to offer you an interactive session to explore these questions. Join Elizabeth Wigelsworth, Branch Development and Volunteer Manager of CIPD and Ruth Leonard, AVM Chair and Head of Volunteering Development, Macmillan Cancer Support on the evening of Wednesday 20 June in London.

The panel of speakers from a variety of backgrounds will address these thorny issues and answer your burning questions on the relationship between volunteer management and HR – no question is barred so hopefully we’ll be in for a lively debate!

If you have questions you would like to submit for the panel, please contact the organisers before the night. You’ll also have the opportunity to put your question forward on the evening where we have time.

Secure your ticket by visiting: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hr-and-volunteer-management-a-marriage-of-convenience-or-a-match-made-in-heaven-tickets-45405459953

Building bridges: Volunteering research and practice workshop

joint event logsWe are pleased to invite you to a workshop on volunteering research and practice, co-hosted by the Voluntary Sector Studies Network, Association of Volunteer Managers and the Network of National Volunteer Involving Agencies and supported by NCVO, on the 7th June 2018, 10:30-15:30, London.

The aim of the workshop is to bring together volunteer managers and researchers to strengthen collaborative working. We will share thoughts on: the state of the existing evidence base for volunteering; how research is used in volunteering management; and priorities for future research. The workshop will include brief presentations from some of the leaders in volunteering research and practice, but the emphasis will be on collaborative working through group discussions.

This is a free event but places are limited to one per organisation, and you must register to attend.

You can see the programme further details and register at Eventbrite.

Where does volunteer management belong? Tell AVM your views

AVM has been invited to be part of a conversation on 20th June with the Central London branch of CIPD about where the Volunteer Management function sits within organisations.

If you’re based in a team other than the People or HR directorate and you would be interested in sharing your experience about this long-standing debate, please get in touch with Ruth, AVM’s Chair.

This should be an interesting conversation, so watch this space for more information following the event.

It’s a Date! – 18 October 2018, AVM Annual Conference

Just seven months to go until we come together for the sector-leading AVM annual conference, we’re asking you to keep the date – 18th October – firmly held in your diaries.

This year’s conference promises to be bigger and better than ever before. We’re working hard pulling together an exciting programme for the day including inspirational and challenging keynote speakers, networking opportunities and topical seminars/workshops. These will address topical issues and areas for development for all of us who help people donate their time and talents.

We’re delighted that the conference will again be held at the Royal National Hotel, London, close to Euston and Kings Cross stations. Early bird tickets will be released shortly so be sure to keep an eye on your emails for further news. Last year’s event sold out in record time, so we’d strongly encourage you to book as early as you can – and enjoy an early bird discount!

Don’t take our word for it, here are a few things people said about last year’s conference:

  • “Great networking, really friendly participants and organisers. Very professionally run in a great venue”
  • “There’s a really great energy and camaraderie amongst volunteering folk which made for a great atmosphere. I also enjoyed the good variety of sessions and keynotes”
  • “It was really well organised. With a great choice of workshops and a busy, buzzy atmosphere. Lunch arrangements made great opportunities to talk to new people”
  • “Really great keynote speakers, individually and good variety across them. Great to have peers in the sector sharing learning in workshops. Always good to hear what others are up to and have a chance to discuss challenges candidly and support each other”
  • “The networking was great, the standard of speakers was high, I felt stretched by the discussions”

What people liked about the event:

  • “What did I like about the event? – All of it! -this was my first AVM conference and I thought it was efficiently run and well delivered. The speakers and workshop leaders were professional, knowledgeable and topical. It is important to have professionals representing who are not a formal part of the third or voluntary sector but who demonstrate leadership and have a keen interest/buy in to our profession and work”
  • “The varied programme and the wide range of workshops available. The knowledge of speakers and the opportunity to share expertise”
  • “Networking, exchanging ideas, free range to think outside the box – not always possible in a work context!”

Save the Date

So make sure to keep 18th October free and watch out for more news on the conference in the coming months on the Association of Volunteer Managers website and by email.

Remember, members enjoy a 50% discount on conference places when bookings open, so now is the time to renew your membership or invite colleagues to join. Click here

IMG_20180224_HH3103

Join the AVM Membership Team!

Join UsThe Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) is an independent membership body that aims to support, represent and champion people in volunteer management across the UK. It has been set up by and for people who manage volunteers and has been growing for over a decade.

Our membership now stands at over 400 people across various fields, disciplines and sectors. Joining us ensures that those who manage volunteers are part of an active network of volunteer management professionals across the country, where they can give and receive support, exchange ideas and learn from each other.

Through AVM, volunteer managers have the chance to join together, speak with a louder voice, and influence volunteer management policy makers and funders.

AVM also runs a vibrant programme of learning events throughout the year, as well as our popular annual conference. In addition to the excellent discounts members on these events, all have the opportunity to contribute to or to lead various elements, enabling them to develop their leadership skills and strengthen their reputation within the volunteer management sector.

So, we are proud of the services we offer our members.

However, we also know we could do a lot to improve things. We think many members might not be fully aware of the range of benefits we offer, and we suspect our members have needs that AVM is not meeting.

Our Membership Sub-committee is made up of three Board Members and our Membership Administrator. We would like to invite our members to join us, to help us improve our services, and ultimately, the support and leadership available for volunteer managers across the UK.

We are recruiting to three volunteer roles, all of whom would form part of our Membership team. These roles are as follows:

  • Membership Development Officer
  • Membership Services Evaluation Officer (X2)
  • Membership Benchmarking Officer

All of these roles will be managed and supported by the AVM Director leading Membership services – Angela Wilson. 

If you would like to find out a bit more about any of the roles, you can contact Angela at: angela.wilson@volunteermanagers.org.uk

The closing date for applications is 27 April 2018.

Continue reading

Diversity event: Are you willing to be uncomfortable?

By Keeley Mooney 
AVM member; Volunteer Development Officer, Royal British Legion
Discover the five fantastic videos from this event after reading this blog

Like a secret rabbit warren, Hanbury Hall appeared through the little coffee shop that sold divine smelling coffee and delicious looking cakes.

DWonKksXkAAiNhS

The stage is set . What would you ask at our diversity event?

With such a large scope, “Diversity in Volunteering and how to attract different demographics”, I wasn’t too sure how this day would go. However it met all my expectations and more.

First off Bryan Precious from Age UK quickly put in to perspective the long term benefit for supporting older volunteers. Explaining that by 2030 there could be more than 1 million people over 65 volunteering in the UK.

DWorFwMXUAA2WgE

“We need to consider the needs of older volunteers, this process needs to be continuous” – Bryan,

But Bryan made clear that  it is essential to continuously consider the needs of older volunteers when recruiting, managing and creating a clear leaving pathway. Age UK can help you understand how to do this better via their Later Life facts and stats report – found here.

We then had a truly inspirational speaker from Age UK Camden on how to attract LGBT volunteers. Geraldine McCarthy shared both her personal experience and learning from a project called Opening Doors London. The way this presentation was received in the room showed it didn’t just impact me but many others as well.

DWo5baBWsAEQ6Im

Geraldine is sharing a personal story of how her passion and desire created a space to volunteer in, and how her own volunteer motivations changed with life experience

Geraldine’s talk has led me to consider forming a representative group of volunteers that advocates for the needs of people from different backgrounds. That’s just one of the ideas I took away that could help influence how diverse needs are integrated into the development of volunteering projects.

Jenny Betteridge from Sport England followed Geraldine. Sport England work with many other sport organisations and saw over 6.7 million people volunteer in sport at least twice a year in 2017. Volunteering in sport can include coaching, a committee position, being a referee and much more. Jenny was honest about the challenges they face, with one third of sports volunteers considering quitting or reducing the amount they volunteer in the next 12 months.

Since this event I’ve been working my way through the Sport England resources page. The research can help many different sectors and I’d recommend having a look through!

DWpCLkbX4AEJ1b9

“The why is important throughout your journey” Jenny Betteridge, Are you sharing the reasons why diversity is important to your cause?

Next up was Matilda Wallis, from SS. Great Britain, a visitor attraction in Bristol. The work that Matilda and her team has been doing with local schools, colleges and universities has a lot of potential. They are collaborating  by designing mutually beneficial volunteer roles. The roles need to be flexible as young volunteers often wish to make a shorter commitment.

We ended with Charlotte Handel and Rupal Karia who job share the Head of Volunteering role at Hackney Volunteer Centre. This was a chance to look at the practical ways a charity can support different people to volunteer. The presentation made me realise that by creating a one-size-fits-all volunteer application process we limit who will apply for a role, even if it is something that is of interest to them.

DWph9svX0AA-V2w

Would you adapt your roles like have done?

For me, the key message from the day was the need to step out of our comfort zone if we want to recruit people from different demographics.  So are you willing to be uncomfortable? Will you ask a completely different demographic their honest opinion about your current processes and roles? What have you got to lose?

The five fantastic Diversity event presentations from February are exclusively available to AVM members, using the password in the latest AVM event email, by visiting: https://volunteermanagers.org.uk/member-support/talks-and-events-archive/

View the next AVM Learning & Development Days you can attend: https://volunteermanagers.org.uk/upcoming-events/