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.

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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:

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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!

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“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.

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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/

Encourage, Support, Improve: Effective use of Rewards and Recognition

Volunteers need to feel valued and appreciated, and an effective programme for reward and recognition can achieve so much more. Join us on 15 May 2018, at Hanbury Hall,  London E1 6QR, to learn what others are doing and get some inspiration for your own programme.

Click here to book a place.

This L&D event will look at examples of effective reward and recognition programmes from organisations such as: Battersea Dogs and Cats Home; Age UK Camden and British Red Cross. There will also be presentations from: Team Kinetic, looking at using data to assess rewards and incentives; Value You, explaining their free discount card and gift voucher programme for volunteers, and a Committee member from the Queens Award for Voluntary Service, giving some insight into this most prestigious form of recognition.

Recognising volunteer’s efforts and dedication clearly shows that they are supported by their organisation and helps to encourage and motivate. Volunteers who are satisfied and well-motivated are more likely to improve and progress, which in turn leads to a more productive volunteer team. Modern volunteers are often keen to improve CVs or UCAS applications by displaying skills and experience gained from volunteering. Such volunteers may be more responsive to certificates or other visible awards.

There are many different ways to recognise and reward volunteers, and each organisation needs to develop a programme that suits its resources and it’s volunteers’ needs. This event brings together a range of presenters and delegates from organisations of all sizes, to compare and contrast different approaches to this vital issue. There will also be group discussions and networking opportunities.

Click here for full information or to book a place.

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Reward and Recognition: Encourage; Support; Improve! 

15 May, Hanbury Hall, London      E1 6QR.

Click here to book.

 

 

There are also still tickets available for:

Time is Money: Investing in Volunteer time drives income. 24 April, London.  Click here.

New approaches to involving and engaging volunteers. 12 June, Bristol.   Click here

 

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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New approaches to involving and engaging volunteers: AVM in Bristol, 12 June 2018

AVM steams in to Bristol on 12th June, aboard the SS. Great Britain , may God bless her and all who volunteer aboard her!  Click here to book.

This will be a specially reduced -price event, thanks to the support of English Heritage, SS. Great Britain and South West Museums Development Programme, and as an introduction to AVM.

Continuing our commitment to bringing AVM Learning and Development Days to some of the key centres of volunteer activity outside of London and following on from the exciting opening event in Manchester last week, AVM will now be in Bristol in June. This event will look at some new and innovative approaches to both traditional and new challenges in volunteering. This will include looking at attracting and working with younger volunteers: research clearly shows that actively engaged young volunteers are likely to continue volunteering throughout their lives, for a variety of organisations.

We will look at how research can be an excellent starting point for initiating change. It can provide the data and numbers necessary to convince stakeholders outside of volunteering departments of what those inside volunteering instinctively know already: volunteering is still a largely untapped resource. We will also consider how best to present this information to CEOs and other senior directors, and how volunteer managers can take the lead on convincing and converting boards to the true value of their volunteer departments.

There will be lively group discussions and networking opportunities to allow everyone to share their own opinions and experiences. Lunch is included, as will be a tour of the museum and ship at the end of the main L&D event.

Click here to book

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New approaches to involving and engaging volunteers. 12 June 2018, SS. Great Britain, Bristol

 

Click here to book

 

 

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Places are still available for the 24 April event: Attracting new volunteers and breaking down silos – retail volunteering faces the same issues as much of the sector, and the Charity Retail Association identify good volunteer management as a key issue for retail volunteer organisations. Join Rob Jackson, Liz Reed of Blue Cross, Roy Clark of Barnardo’s and Robin Osterley of CRA.

Click here to book.

Aside from his full time role at Barnardo’s and speaking for AVM, Roy Clark is also running in the London Landmarks Half Marathon on 25 March. If you wish to support Roy, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/roy-clark4

Finding a mentor…like going to the movies?

Movie-popcornBy Angela Wilson, AVM Director.

Soon after I joined the Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) Board of Directors, the Chair, Ruth Leonard, rang me up to ask what I wanted to get out of volunteering, what was it that motivated me? I said I hoped to learn from the diverse experience of other AVM members: I wanted to progress in my career, and so it would be great to learn from others how they had gone about developing theirs. We then got to talking about mentoring, and how it would be wonderful if AVM could set up a scheme where members could learn from each other, much as I was describing.  Top volunteer management marks to Ruth: she had identified my own motivation, and matched it with a strategic aim of AVMs. Thus it was agreed I would lead the setting up of AVMs mentoring scheme, and use the learning for the search for my own mentor to inform and facilitate the project. Great! I was excited to get going. But where to begin?

Fortunately, I was not alone: fellow Director Jo Gibney agreed to join forces with me. So, we met, drank coffee, and did a lot of brainstorming. Jo also wanted to find a mentor…so we started by thinking about what we wanted to get out of it. Discussing it helped us to think through our aims, which made it easier to consider who might be a good person to help me to achieve those aims.Reading up on it, I found out that the mentoring relationship works best when there’s a high level of trust between both parties, and this is most likely to occur when the mentee chooses their own mentor. It should be someone with whom you are not too familiar (e.g. a friend) as you are unlikely to really be challenged in your thinking or to learn very much. Also the experience gap is important: if it is “too narrow, mentor and mentee will have little to talk about. If it is too great, the mentors experience will be increasingly irrelevant to the mentee” (Clutterbuck, D. 2014).

Where would I find such a person? And how would I make the approach? I felt quite awkward about the whole thing, it reminded me of the bashfulness I felt when I was in my late teens, about to ask a guy if he wanted to go to the movies! So it took me a while to work up the courage…

After a fair bit of umming and ahhing, I took a deep breath, and called a colleague I really respected in the volunteer management field, who had experience within the area I wanted to move into. It was great to catch up with him, and talk through some of my aims and hopes. In the end I sort of blurted it out – “would you have any interest in mentoring me…of course no worries at all if you can’t…” [in my head: “EEEEEEEEEK!”] sadly, this colleague had just changed jobs himself, and just didn’t have the time right now. Oh. Oh well, not to worry. I didn’t take it personally. Onwards!

There was one other person I knew who I’d thought for some time, would make a wonderful mentor, but I’d never plucked up the courage to ask. She was talented and very experienced, and probably very busy. I didn’t think I had much chance, but I thought I’d give it a shot anyway – nothing ventured and all that. And she said yes! I was more delighted than when the guy agreed to go to the movies with me. Having someone I really respected agree to invest their time in ME seemed incredibly generous: I was very grateful.

Meanwhile, Jo and I have been busy working up our ideas for the AVM Mentoring Scheme. We’ve been learning from others, designing registration forms and a project plan for how it all might work. We hope that the scheme will make it much easier for mentors and mentees to find each other and pair up.

Since just last week, 29 people have approached AVM to say they’d like to sign up as a mentor, mentee, or both…so we’re well on the way to making it easier (and a bit less like asking someone to go to the movies?!) for members who want to find mentors. We want to bring people together, both in person and online, and facilitate links between people in similar geographic areas. But those are just some of our ideas.

We are really keen to hear from AVM members who would be happy to help us shape the scheme and test out the tools (such as the registration forms) that we’ve developed. If you’re interested in getting involved, please do leave us your details here – we’ll get back to you.

Edited 16.03.2018

The power of listening…and of new boots

brown bootsBy: Angela Wilson, AVM Director

Returning to work following maternity leave, I realised I NEEDED to go shopping. I’d worn the same cosy, baggy jeans for several months, with my baby happily wiping her nose on whichever of my bobbly jumpers I was wearing that day.

The trouble was, it had been months since I’d bought myself new clothes, and I’d forgotten how to shop! Fashion had moved on and as I stared at the strange, oversized, bat-winged type coats, I realised I had no idea what I was doing, and felt rather lost and intimidated about the whole thing. Back-up was needed. I called my mates Lucy and Jos, and pleaded for them to help me step out of my mum-garb into a confident new look.

I knew I needed boots. Who doesn’t need boots. But which ones? Never one for stiletto’s, I like my feet firmly on the ground. But I’m also five foot three, so a couple of extra inches would be good. My hand hovered over a pair of brown, leather boots with a chunky two inch heel. Argh – there was that indecision again…would they look good? Now, Lucy and Jos aren’t afraid to say boo to a goose. They’re bolshy, opinionated, wonderful women who will tell you exactly what they think, which was exactly what I’d hoped for from them. However, on this occasion, they didn’t.

“What do you think, Ange?” asked Jos.

Slightly perturbed, I looked at my reflection and asked myself that question. Did I like the boots? Yes, I did…a lot. Confirming as much, Josie’s face broke out into a big smile, and she told me she thought they looked great too. Hurrah! They were a great first purchase.
Later on, enjoying my buyers-high, I mulled over the day. I was feeling much more confident about what I wanted and realised I didn’t need to wear enormous bat-winged coats to look good, I just needed to have confidence in the clothes I liked, and to choose clothes that made me feel good. Jos had helped me to remember this. And she’d done it in a really important way.

Instead of dictating to me what she thought looked good, she’d listened, and waited for me to find the answer in myself. If she hadn’t done that, I’d have ended up looking like a daft version of her (she’s far taller than me and a completely different body shape) and I wouldn’t have regained confidence in my own ability to find lovely clothes.

That, for me, was an important lesson. People often have the answers to their problems inside themselves, and only they can effectively overcome their challenges and find their own solutions. Other people telling them what to do simply won’t work, as what’s right for one, is not for another. When others can really listen, and help you to find those answers yourself, it can be a very powerful experience.

It’s the same in a mentoring relationship.

Great mentors respect their mentees and help them to find their own solutions: “to do the role well requires a capacity to hold back and allow people to learn for themselves” (Clutterbuck, D. 2014).

The Association of Volunteer Managers is setting up its own mentoring scheme, in the hopes of unleashing some of the powerful volunteer management skills, experience and knowledge that exists amongst our membership, helping to develop listening and leadership skills amongst mentors, and helping to progress the careers and personal development goals of mentees.

We would like members to help us to shape it and to road-test some of the early stage tools we’ve developed. If you think you would be interested in learning more about mentoring and participating in the scheme, and would be willing to help us to make it into a success, we would love to hear from you. Please leave your details here, and we’ll get back in touch.

Read about what we’re planning.