Jewish Volunteering Network: Volunteer Management Seminar

AVM organisational member Jewish Volunteering Network would like to invite you to join them for expert advice for volunteer managers planning or managing a volunteer befriending schemes.

This session will look at the purpose of a befriending scheme, the benefits and risks involved in carrying out befriending, and what needs to happen to put in place an effective and safe scheme. There will be time to put together a draft training document for your befrienders and also complete an action plan.

The training takes place Tuesday 10th July 2018, 09:15 – 13:00 at AJR, Winston House, 2 Dollis Park, London N3 1HF.
 
You can find out more on their website.

Recruiting a new treasurer: can AVM count on you?

  • Do you have a head for figures?

  • Want to help AVM thrive and grow?

  • Got time to give to help grow the volunteer management profession?

If this sounds like you – or someone you know – then AVM would like to hear from you! The AVM board is looking to co-opt someone with finance skills and experience to support our current Treasurer, and build capacity for growth.

Initially you will be co-opted until this year’s AGM (at our October conference), with the option of you being co-opted again. This role does not require you to be an AVM member.

If you are interested in the role please see the role description. If you’d like to discuss the role in more detail, please get in touch.

Member question: training and induction for retail volunteers

AVM member Tracey Le Gallez, Head of Volunteer Development & Engagement at Sue Ryder Care, has plans to create a new suite of induction and development training for Sue Ryder’s retail volunteers.

Tracey would like to hear from anyone who is able to share how they have approached the following question.

How do you approach training of this type given the risk management climate we are now operating in (safeguarding, GDPR etc.)?

Tracey is aiming to continue involving a diverse group of volunteers and so is eager to have a robust process but one that doesn’t put people off. You can contact her on: [email protected]

Mentoring: 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.

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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!

Edited: expressions of interest are currently closed. 

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.

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

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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:

We’re off to the Charity Retail Conference!

AVM is proud to announce that we are delivering a ‘focus session’ at the most
prestigious event in the charity retailers’ calendar. The session, on Monday 25 June 3.15-4.15pm, will be delivered by AVM members and their charity retail counterparts.

The session explores how a shift in approach by organisations, leaders and managers can pay off at the till.

Balancing Time And Dollar
Time is money – Investing in volunteer time drives income

People remain keen to use their time to make a difference, but the demands on
this resource are increasing. Demos’s Shopping for Good report found that in
three years the number of retail volunteers rose only 4 per cent, whilst the number of shops continues to increase. If we all continue to shout louder about the benefits of retail volunteering, but people have more demands on their time, can we expect different results?

The aim is to speak to charity retail professionals about the challenges outlined above, and potential solutions we find at our own Retail Volunteering event on Tuesday 24 April.

The Charity Retail Association‘s event takes place at the East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham between 24-26 June. More details about the event, including how to book your place, can be found here https://www.charityretail.org.uk/charity-retail-conference-and-exhibition/

A limited number of discounted tickets for AVM and Charity Retail Association members remain available for our next AVM Learning and Development Day. These can be booked online.

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Review of volunteering and community contributions in later life

The Centre for Ageing Better is looking for examples of inspiring practice to support people aged 50 and over to get involved in volunteering and community activity, as part of its Review of Community Contribution in Later Life, undertaken in partnership with DCMS. Areas of interest included shared processes and systems across volunteer-involving organisations in all sectors (for example shared training and onboarding processes); examples of collaboration between those offering more and less formal and committed volunteering roles; and examples of practice geared to support the inclusion of people with long-term conditions and disabilities, and those from low-income communities.

The call for practice is open until the end of April 2018, and AVM members are encouraged to contribute.

Help shape research on environmental volunteering by young people

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Three spades digging into earth. Image source: Pixabay

Defra (the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs)  recently commissioned OPM Group to design and deliver a qualitative research project to understand how to make environmental volunteering more attractive, relevant and accessible for young people (aged 16-24). The research will inform Defra’s work with Step Up to Serve, and other organisations, under the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan to help children and young people from all backgrounds to engage with nature and improve the environment.

They are engaging with stakeholders who may have useful experience and insight, or an interest in the outcomes; and are inviting them to complete a short online survey (before Tuesday 10 April), comprised of 8 questions, which seeks to:

  • understand views on the topic based on your experience;
  • identify useful evidence or insights regarding motivations, barriers, enablers, perceptions and pathways to young people volunteering, particularly in environmental projects; and
  • understand what stakeholders would find useful from the research.

You can complete the survey online.

Please do get in touch if you’d like to participate, and share with your networks.

Retail Volunteering Event: Investing in volunteer time drives income.

24  April 2018 at the Crypt, London E1 6LY,  10:30 – 4:30

Click here to book.

Many charities run retail operations with varying degrees of volunteer involvement, but the Charity Retail Association (CRA) has identified a shortage of suitable volunteers and the importance of good volunteer management as key issues facing their members at this time.  With a huge and diverse array of volunteers, charity retailers face both unique and universal challenges.

This event will bring together a wealth of experience from both volunteering and retail. Hosted by Angela Wilson, Senior Advisor, Volunteering & Community Development at Barnardo’s, with Rob Jackson of Rob Jackson Consulting, Robin Osterley, Chief Executive of CRA, Liz Reed, Volunteering Business Partner at Blue Cross and Roy Clark, Director for Retail and Trading at Barnardo’s.

The event will look at how modern retail volunteers may be very different from the traditional image, and how retail volunteer managers need to understand the complex motives and aspirations of their volunteers in order to build the most productive relationships. From volunteers looking to improve their employability, to those combating social isolation, the range of expectations must be matched by an equally in-depth and engaging volunteer offer.

We will hear some examples of organisations responding to these challenges in innovative ways and how a successful approach can result in efficient and productive retail operations.

Balancing Time And Dollar
Time is money -Investing in volunteer time drives income

For more information or to book – Click here.

24 April 2018, the Crypt at Christ Church Spitalfields, London E1 6LY

GDPR event: The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data

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@AVMtweets: Our Director @running4chips introduces today’s #VMLearn reminding us that we’re all ‘in the same boat’ for #GDPR

By Lisa McDermott 
AVM member; Volunteering Management and Training Officer (UK), Stroke Association

On a dreary January afternoon, I was sat in a room. Well a hall technically. In Shoreditch. With a ‘gathering’ – is that the right word? – of volunteer managers and leaders of volunteers.

Over the next few hours we experienced a rollercoaster of emotions ranging from being gobsmacked, determined, panicked and relieved. Who knew that an AVM event about the General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR] could generate such a response. Not me…

First up to the podium was the RNLI. They started their GDPR journey in 2016 so compared to a lot of other people in the room they are well ahead of the curve. The pioneers, if you will, in the GDPR wilderness.

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@AVMtweets: Why is good data governance important? For @RNLI it means more lives are saved #GDPR #VMLearn

A clever campaign – Communication Saves Lives – has seen nearly 500,000 supporters opt in by the end of 2017 to continue receiving fundraising communications, and as a result the response rate to a Summer appeal increase from 10.4% to 32.8%. Impressive I nod sagely….

Their multifaceted, one-size doesn’t fit all, engagement which included staff ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions and tailored volunteer messaging was also a bit special. I too find food is a great persuader….

There was an audible gasp, however, when we learnt that the RNLI had only applied GDPR to their direct marketing. What?? After all that you’ve still got shed loads to do? At this point I think some panic started to set in.

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@AVMtweets: Everyone loves a good acronym. Here’s one for handling personal data #GDPR #VMLearn

Next up was the Alzheimer’s Society who gave an honest and frank account of living under an E10 enforcement notice after being sanctioned by the Information Commissioner. This forced them to have a long hard look at how the organisation, their staff and volunteers process data but in doing so they are now in a happy place and feeling prepared for GDPR.  I’m not sure when I am next going to have a discussion about hamster bedding and composting in the same breath as why GDPR is important.

Our last presenter for the day was Paul Jennings from Bates, Wells and Braithwaite who took us through some of the ‘legalese’ and dealt with some insightful and challenging questions from the crowd on topics like retention policies, roles and responsibilities and privacy notices.

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@AVMtweets: Paul from BWB is managing to make #data & #GDPR an engaging topic #VMLearn

There was also an interesting discussion on whether asking volunteers for consent is the right thing to do and whether gathering data under the legitimate interest banner would be more appropriate. Organisations need to decide for themselves what works best for them. Food – and a biccy – for thought…

So, by the end of the day our heads were spinning with advice, guidance, predictions and questions about what GDPR means for us and our organisations. Will it be “an evolution or a revolution?” For us probably the former as we already have a lot of data safeguards in place due to the nature of our work but for others it might mean coming out on the streets, waving the GDPR flag and shouting ‘viva la revolucion!”

The three engaging GDPR presentations from January 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/

Still don’t feel #GDPR ready? We’ve teamed up with Paul again to answer your top 10 data protection questions. Watch this space for Paul’s Q&A blog!

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