Build your confidence in 2021: become a mentor

Is 2021 the year you could make a difference to another volunteer manager?

AVM’s mentoring programme is seeking more members to join us as mentors. If you have experience of leading volunteers, then to be a mentor you may not need as much experience as you think.

What you do need is to have had that experience of taking on a volunteer leadership role, and having the confidence to support another to tackle their learning curve. You are probably still learning yourself (who isn’t?) every day, but know how demanding the role of volunteer management can be and have worked out how to meet many of those demands.

Helping another person can be a hugely rewarding experience for mentors, as well as mentees. We often find that our mentors learn as much as their mentees through the mentoring experiences, and helps them gain confidence.

If you’re already a mentor, why not encourage someone to sign up as a mentor, and give them that confidence boost?

Find out more

One of our current mentors has shared their experience how being a mentor has helped them as much as it has helped their mentee. Read why they signed up to be a mentor.

AVM Director Neil Monk shares his thoughts on why you don’t need as much experience as you might think you do to be a mentor. Read his blog now.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor for a volunteer manager, you can find out more, and sign up today.

The mentoring programme is only available to AVM members. Find out more about AVM membership.

Why I signed up to be an AVM mentor

“[Being a mentor] has really helped my imposter syndrome
AVM mentor, 2020
An anonymous blog from a current AVM mentor

A while ago, I realised I liked mentoring – the sense of learning from the energy that new recruits bring, and sharing a longer term view of an occupation. As I work part time at school, I am not best placed to support new trainees or teachers, but I like supporting and coaching volunteers in the roles I have with Samaritans. I recently mentored a new Samaritan as they took their first calls, and I was blown away by how much I learned from the process and how refreshing it was to work with someone who saw everything we do from a new perspective. Feeling connected is also a huge motivator in my volunteering, so I was delighted to try a role that lends itself to building a relationship quickly. There is a vulnerability that I think comes from learning together and sharing expertise that can be a real bonding experience.

The first meeting

From my first emails from my mentee, I was really excited to be involved in the programme. She is a bubbly, proactive individual and the process helped us be clear about how much time we will spend together and how often. We are both organised, and have a lot to fit in, so this worked well. I was thrilled at how well-matched we are. As a teacher, it has been really interesting to see how someone else has used their education background in the third sector, and it has helped me understand the development of organisations much better. My mentee is part of a relatively young, youthful organisation with humorous yet serious messaging and it has helped me to reflect on how Samaritans has evolved.

It was great to meet my mentee – via Zoom – and the meeting lit up my whole week. We really hit it off. I just love listening to how other organisations work and what solutions different teams come up with for our common challenges. It has really helped my imposter syndrome to be able to offer solutions that have worked for our volunteers at a branch, regional or national level and reflect on my own volunteer management journey and learning.

It was really straightforward to make a few notes on what we’d discussed for both our reference, and to email these with a Zoom invite for the next meeting that we arranged together.

The second meeting

I was excited to find out what my mentee had been up to in the interim: she had worked on some of the things we’d discussed, and much more besides! So far, the things I have most appreciated about being a mentor have been:

  • A practical use of my listening skills;
  • Sharing mutual enthusiasm;
  • Fits easily within a busy week – doesn’t take too much brain strain or time and gives such a lot back;
  • Has clear benefits for me and my mentee – we can be clear in sharing what we are gaining for ourselves and for our organisations;
  • In 2020 – a year that could seem like many doors were closing and avenues closed – a good way of getting to know someone I wouldn’t otherwise have met.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor for a volunteer manager, you can find out more, and sign up today.

The mentoring programme is available to AVM members. Find out more about AVM membership.

Thank you for your help in 2020

We are the membership association we are thanks to those that join us as member and get involved. Without this collective contribution we wouldn’t have been able to do as much as we have achieved in the last 12 months.

Thank you to everyone who joined an event, our conference, or one of our network calls.

Thanks to our members who become mentors, mentees, or took part in our AVM Connect events (formally randomised coffee trials).

A particular thanks to the following people who have helped shape our offer, shared their knowledge and expertise and generally enhanced the AVM offer.

Our People

Conference VolunteersCarly Benton
Emma Capon
Jen Happe
Nuria De Miguel 
Jess Lloyd
Sally Seddon
Events VolunteersAntonia White
Cass Kamara
Tony Gibney
Membership VolunteersTony Gibney
Website Development
Volunteers
Andy Broomhead
Tony Gibney
Volunteers’ Week
Volunteers
Andy Broomhead Catherine Rose
Caroline Kendall
Sarah Merrington
Tiger de Souza
DirectorsAlan Murray
Andy Broomhead
Annabel Smith
Angela Riches-Heed
Alex Beaumont
Jennie Mann
Jo Keller
Jolene Moran
Karen Ramnauth
Neil Monk
Rachel Ball
Ruth Leonard
Sarah Merrington
Shaun Delaney
Thomas Ball
StaffJo Gibney, Head of Business Development

Helen Birchall, Membership and Events Administrator

Our Contributors

Conference Workshop
Hosts, Keynote
Speakers and Panellists
Amira Tharani
Amy McGirr
Bryan Precious
Chris Freed
Claire Booth
Ingrid Abreu Scherer
Jarina Choudhury
Laura Hamilton
Martha Awojobi
Matt Murray
Martin Houghton-Brown
Morven MacLean
Rachael Bayley
Rebecca Kennelly
Sherie Olmstead
Stephen Hill
Victoria Dickinson
L&D Event
workshop speakers
and BiteSize contributors
Alan Murray
Ami Davis
Andy Broomhead
Claire Ross
David Robinson
Donna Bennett
Emily Hughes
Hadji Singh
Helen Timbrell
Kirsty White
Lucy Gower
Morven MacLean
Neil Monk
Nichole McGill-Higgins
Rachel Clark
Rob Jackson
Shaun Delaney
Sue Jones
Tiger de Souza
Wendy Halley

Our Friends

PartnersHVG
IVR
NCVO
NNVIA
VSSN
Voluntary Voice (Do IT Foundation)
SponsorsTeam Kinetic
vHelp

We are looking forward to offering more opportunities for our members to get involved in 2021 and support us to meet our community’s needs.

2020 AGM and Update from the Board of Directors

A recording of our 2020 AGM and the associated documents are now available in the members’ area of the website.

As agreed at the AGM, all our fully elected board directors have had their terms extended by one year; Ruth Leonard’s term was extended by two years and both Rachel Ball and Tom Ball were co-opted for a further two years

At our November board meeting, the directors approved the Co-option of Jo Keller and Andy Broomhead until the 2021 AGM.  Both Jo and Andy have been involved with AVM in the previous 24 months and we look forward to working with them further.

Also at the same board meeting, the Directors voted in Shaun Delaney as Company Secretary. Rachel Ball has now stepped down from this role but will remain on the board, focusing on business development.

All of these changes have been reflected on our website.

We are looking forward to seeing what this newly structured board can achieve and wish those in new roles all the best for this new adventure together.

AVM’s conference goes online for 2020

The AVM conference is always a highlight in our year. Even though we say so ourselves we believe it is the premier event in the UK for volunteer managers, leaders and heads of volunteering. 

We always try to bring together some of the best speakers from our sector, people who are at the forefront of volunteer management and thought-leadership, and those from outside of volunteer management, who will challenge and provoke us to think differently.

This year, for obvious reasons, we are unable to hold our conference face-to-face, so this year we are holding a virtual conference  on Zoom.

The 2020 conference will be held across two days- Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 October, 10am to 1pm. On each day we will have a keynote speaker with a Q&A, eight workshops to choose from on a variety of themes, and a panel session at the end of each morning. In the afternoon there are optional networking sessions, for a cuppa and a chat with your peers about what you heard earlier in the day.

This year’s keynote speakers

We’re really pleased to announce our two keynote speakers for 2020.

Martha Awojobi of Charity So White will be speaking to us about racism in the charity sector, on Wednesday 21 October.

On Thursday 22 October, Martin Houghton-Brown, Chief Executive St John Ambulance, has agreed to speak and share his views on the importance of volunteer management and volunteers. Both keynote sessions will have time for questions.

Workshops

Because we are online, and running across two days, we are able to offer delegates the choice of all eight workshops on both days. We have an exciting line up of workshop leaders, covering a wide range of topics. We use the feedback you give us to curate out line up, so we hope you’ll be as excited as us about this year’s sessions.

Networking

We realise the opportunities to network and chat to other leaders of volunteering from across a variety of sectors and organisations are more limited online, so will be using Zoom meeting, which allows you to chat with one another.

We will be hosting two optional ‘cuppa and a chat’ sessions, on the afternoons of both days, for more networking, and to reflect on what you’ve heard during the morning.

Buy your ticket today

See the full agenda and buy your ticket today.

Buy tickets for AVM annual conference 2020 - 21 & 22 October

Are you feeling stuck?

Are you having the same conversation over and over again about volunteer management, but don’t feel you are getting anywhere? Do you feel like you’re dealing with the same issues year on year, and job to job?

In this online masterclass, you’ll learn to unlearn your assumptions and explore techniques to help you get unstuck, so you can move forward positively.

We’re really pleased to have Lucy Gower, an innovation pioneer from the world of fundraising, leading this event. Lucy will be sharing general techniques to help us unlearn what we think we should do in the first part of this masterclass.

In the second half, you will work in small groups on a particular challenge where you’re currently feeling stuck, applying the techniques you’ve learnt to your own volunteering challenges.

Book today for this online, Zoom masterclass, Thursday 30th July, 10am – 12pm. 

AVM members are eligible for a discount on tickets – as well as other benefits, such as our newly launched book club – so why not join AVM today?

Buy tickets for Getting Unstuck: Learning to Unlearn. An AVM Masterclass

About Lucy Gower

Lucy Gower is founder and director at Lucidity. She is a coach, trainer and facilitator specialising in giving people the confidence and tools to think creatively, develop ideas and make their innovations happen. She is bestselling author of The Innovation Workout and a global speaker on innovation. Lucy is passionate about helping people get unstuck, unlock their creativity and get the important work done. She enjoys working on projects with the potential to make a positive impact on the world.

Lucy was the first Innovation Manager at the NSPCC, where she helped teams to think creatively and support them to turn their good ideas into action.

Lucy is also founder of the Lucidity Network, which she set up to help leaders, teams and organisations have the confidence to think clearly and get powerful results.

Lucy lives in Devon, and is PA to Gary Gower, a Wire Fox Terrier.

Buy tickets for Getting Unstuck: Learning to Unlearn. An AVM Masterclass

Netball volunteers and a volunteer strategy: a silver lining around a very grey COVID cloud (part 2)

In the second of our two-part series on adapting England Netball’s volunteer strategy to Covid-19, Imogen Greatbach shares how the strategy has evolved

This is a time that many of us never imagined we would experience in our life time. Life feels different with many unknowns. In December 2019 England Netball launched its first ever Volunteer Strategy. A huge signal to the estimated 26,000 netball volunteers that as a sport, they value the volunteers that help make netball happen and have a vision to improve the landscape in partnership with them. 

We have given them the opportunity to stop and reflect on the journey so far and role a volunteer focussed strategy can play within an organisation. This is only really the beginning of their journey, but they highlight what they call ‘silver linings from this grey COVID cloud’. Increased volunteer engagement, openness to try new things, revealing digital skills they never knew existed and a clear and common sense of purpose to ensure they can return to court when the time is right and it is safe to do so. 

Following on from Part 1 of this two-part reflections piece, Imogen Greatbatch (England Netball Head of Volunteering) shares her reflections on the evolution of the strategy in the face of Covid-19.


PART 2: A netball volunteer strategic story: launch, embed and evolve reflections

Roller-skating parallel worlds

The first five months of this role focussed on re-visiting concepts within the unpublished draft of the strategy, refining thinking alongside volunteers and completing the finishing touches for the formal England Netball launch in December. This post December Embed and Evolve phase has been focussed on lacing up the skates to bring it all to life. 

The wheels on one skate represent 60% of time prioritised to think, organise and activate how we service the needs, engage in conversations and build the road map to prioritise and deliver the activities together.

The wheels on the other skate roll through the needs of England Netball. With volunteering spanning pretty much all corners of the business, the remaining 40% of my time focusses on understanding the nuances of how volunteers add value and are supported. All in the interests of striving towards delivering a consistently world class volunteer experience. 

Creating conversations, actively encouraging informal learning and sharing brilliance 

Lockdown has turned our world ‘digital’ (and accelerated need and appetite for some activities we were planning in Years 2 and 3!). Digital skill sets have been revealed that some never knew they had. 

We knew we needed to create more informal netball focussed learning opportunities across broader number of roles. Much of it is centred on creating space for netball volunteers to have discussions on topics they care about but often don’t have time to explore and share opinions on. Whilst we are still developing these ‘In Focus’ sessions (in partnership with volunteers) and learning from every interaction, we are regularly seeing it is not about providing all the answers but facilitating and encouraging volunteers to be part of the journey. A true netball quality centres on supporting and learning from one another, a powerful way to unlock new thinking and ideas.

Activating segmented communication to key groups of volunteers

We have had to adapt our ways of working and thinking across everything we do, amplifying areas of focus in a significantly compressed and ever changing timeframe. This includes connecting with senior volunteers in County and Regional committee roles over two weeks (proudly achieving our highest ever engagement on a virtual tour {97%} with our CEO and Development Director, to share thoughts, feedback and ideas on ways to navigate this strange time, together. But just as importantly ensuring we also start talking more regularly to club and registered league volunteers (often individuals that span multiple roles and multiple netball volunteer led organisations).

The varying scale of time volunteers have pre Corona Virus and now presents challenges; some with lots through business furlough arrangements and many others still learning how to juggle several important balls {work, home schooling and caring commitments}. We have to ensure we tailor support to enable them to consume the essentials in ways they have time and appetite to engage with.

Authenticity, vulnerability and trust

Netball’s culture pivots around the importance of remaining true to oneself yet not being too proud to ask for help when needed. This is something the netball volunteer world instilled in me. I know I am not getting things right all the time, we try to do a lot at pace, not to mention aspirations often being significantly bigger than reality enables but remain true to the passion of supporting volunteers and trying, is most important and if it doesn’t land right, learn and be better next time. 

Resilience and duty of care

Resilience is a key quality these days and my experiences as a volunteer have tested my resilience but also helped strengthen it! When you volunteer you can often feel out of your comfort zone, alone and find yourself questioning is it all worth it? But then there are moments of magic that emerge from things you do like; friends, pride and a sense of achievement supporting your local community and you wonder what you ever doubted. 

Understanding this we are trying to ensure the activities we deliver as a result of the strategy create a community that cares about each other. A community that knows how to signpost one another to the right support to help individuals be the best they can be, as volunteers but just as importantly as people. Physical and mental wellbeing is more important now than ever. 

A common purpose

The volunteer strategy sets out a vision to improve support for netball volunteers to consider their ‘why’ and feel more purposeful, through building a movement. A movement towards a true partnership with England Netball. This partnership has become more important than ever as we work out how to emerge from lockdown and return to court, stronger than ever and when it is safe to do so. 

It is only appropriate to finish with, we don’t have all the answers, but as a sport we are hugely proud to have our first ever netball volunteer strategy and are learning every day. It is our first step to show netball volunteers they do matter and are truly important. Volunteers Week is a great time to shine a light on volunteering, but the reality is we need to move to a world where volunteers feel special every day of every week. 

To any volunteers reading this {particularly those in Netball} – you continue to give your time, expertise and energy to causes you care about and are helping shape the world into something pretty special. Your stories are our (volunteer managers’) inspiration.

Thank you.


Imogen Greatbatch

Imogen Greatbatch is Head of Volunteering at England Netball and focusses on Strategy, Network Support and Promotion and Recognition of volunteers. Imogen is a passionate netballer and netball volunteer, and has been since school. She has held numerous volunteer roles at Club, County, League and Regional levels and in 2019, at the England Netball Goalden Globes celebration {held alongside the Netball World Cup}, she was honoured to be awarded the England Netball Rose Award for her services to netball, as a volunteer. 

Netball volunteers and a volunteer strategy: a silver lining around a very grey COVID cloud (part 1)

In the first of a two-part series on adapting England Netball’s volunteer strategy to Covid-19, Laura Elson shares her reflections on strategy development

This is a time that many of us never imagined we would experience in our life time. Life feels different with many unknowns. In December 2019 England Netball launched its first ever Volunteer Strategy. A huge signal to the estimated 26,000 netball volunteers that as a sport, they value the volunteers that help make netball happen and have a vision to improve the landscape in partnership with them. 

We have given them the opportunity to stop and reflect on the journey so far and role a volunteer focussed strategy can play within an organisation. This is only really the beginning of their journey, but they highlight what they call ‘silver linings from this grey COVID cloud’. Increased volunteer engagement, openness to try new things, revealing digital skills they never knew existed and a clear and common sense of purpose to ensure they can return to court when the time is right and it is safe to do so. 

Laura Elson (Consultant and former England Netball Volunteering and Governance Manager) played a big part in the development phase of the Volunteer Strategy and she will begin: 

Laura’s netball team

PART 1: A netball volunteer strategic story: pre-launch reflections

When is a strategy not a strategy?

Often what we call strategies are plans with a budget. This is still useful especially if time and resources are tight, but there are some key differences that make a strategy much more than a document on a shelf. A plan uses some internal data to describe what an organisation will do with its volunteers. A strategy is a roadmap co-designed with volunteers that uses rigorous internal and external insights to describe what volunteers will achieve.

A true strategy is about listening to the breadth of your volunteer movement, identifying the main groups within it, their diverse motivations, and the roles they play in your organisation’s purpose. For most organisations volunteers outnumber paid staff in such vast numbers that activating them is crucial to meeting your overarching goals. So a good volunteer strategy sets out how volunteers achieve your purpose, not how the annual awards will be run or what to budget for T shirts.

Strategy development techniques

Invest in the process 

We spent almost two years working through a series of research steps to gather the data we wanted to use. England Netball also chose to hire an external consultant to lead the process of gathering data and consulting volunteers.

Segmentation analysis 

Women in Sport were commissioned to conduct a segmentation analysis, with their focus groups identifying six communities of motivation within the wider netball community. This showed us we had six segments or “hearts” of volunteers who have different motivations but are all united by their ultimate reason for getting involved – because they love netball.

Other player analysis 

It’s easy to just look around and borrow from other organisations. This is a bit of a trick though, and what’s unique about your movement often won’t translate for another organisation. We held structured interviews with leaders of volunteering across sport but also with national charities and women’s organisations. 90% of netball volunteers are women, and we actually learned the most from Girlguiding and the Women’s Institute.

Internal and external analysis 

Volunteers out number staff 200 to one in netball and their contributions underpin whether we meet those our goals. We started with our overarching strategy and ensured we used those goals, as did other departments such as Officiating and Coaching (who are also predominantly volunteers.) Sport England and NCVO also provided us with insights so that we could consider the national volunteering landscape too.

Volunteer voices 

We compiled data from thousands of volunteers via our annual survey, the Big Netball Conversation. 

Co-production 

Alongside all this was the best bit of my job, travelling around the nation over 18 months and meeting hundreds of volunteers in every region and every role. 

Yes, this is a huge investment of time but it’s crucial. Questions were asked at regional and county meetings, focus groups were held at national conferences, people who had stopped volunteering were phoned to mention some of the activities. This enabled us to be clearer about what the groups and themes we identified meant in real terms.. Second it enabled movement building, the more volunteers we involved the more ownership, partnership and respected our movement felt. 


Laura Elson is Consultant specialising in volunteering strategy and development, fundraising and governance with an MSc from the Centre for Charity Effectiveness. Laura is a member of AVM, volunteers as a trustee at Getting on Board, the national trustee recruitment charity, and Bramley Elderly Action. She also volunteers with the Institute of Fundraising, Small Charities Coalition, and her local food bank. But her favourite volunteering role is as player/kit secretary at Carr Manor Lightning Netball Club in Leeds, where she holds the title of the shortest Goalkeeper in the league.

Volunteers’ Week 2020 #WaveForVolunteers – special ‘shout out’ to all COVID-19 Volunteers

AVM Directors #WaveForVolunteers

This week people from across the UK have been coming together to say a massive thank you to millions of volunteers. On Thursday 4 June 2020 we are sending out a special shout out to all volunteers who have actively supported the COVID-19 response and those who have been ‘great neighbours’.

There are hundreds of thousands of households and individuals who may be shielding who have benefitted from acts of kindness, like someone walking their dog or helping with their shopping. These people often don’t see themselves a volunteers but they are. We want to take this time to say thank you, and hope that their acts of kindness now turn into acts of habit later.

The #WaveForVolunteers was started by Volunteering Australia in May and we would like to continue this campaign in the UK during Volunteers Week 2020. We are encouraging everyone, including those whose lives have been touched by volunteers, to say thank you

You can join in by simply taking a photo of yourself waving to volunteers with a smiley face on your hand and post it on social media using #WaveForVolunteers and #VolunteersWeek.  

Volunteers have been the lifeblood of our communities in recent months. They are keeping us connected and in the coming weeks they will go on to play a role in helping us get back to the things that we love. By joining forces in Volunteers Week 2020, we are aiming to increase visibility of the vital efforts that all volunteers have made this year.