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.

How being a mentor gives me insight

“Mentoring…gives me an insight into the challenges faced in the sector today.”
AVM mentor, 2020
Neil Monk is Peer Support Project Officer at Norfolk County Council Adult Social Services, and a Director of AVM

I recall my early forays into leading volunteers. I was already on some steep learning curves, starting new initiatives in campaigning as well as building a project to support orphaned children in Uganda from scratch. This all needed volunteers (I was one myself). I had gone to this with little thought
that leading volunteers would be another steep learning curve in itself, a whole new job description.

I look back now and realise how much I could have gained from support, advice and encouragement from someone who had experience and knowledge of why, and how, volunteer management is very much a skill in itself.

So, giving back when you can is a large part of what the whole volunteer sector is about. It’s great for me to be in touch with a new volunteer manager. While my mentee is looking to gain support from someone with years of experience this can also be a two way experience. Mentoring someone else, in my case with someone new to working with volunteers, puts me back I touch with the initial stages of leading volunteers, and gives me an insight into the challenges faced in the sector today.

Becoming a volunteer mentor

So, what do I need to have to become a volunteer mentor? I think that the answer here is that, along as you do have experience of leading volunteers, you may not need as much as experience as you think. If you feel that you have been on that sharp initial learning curve (and, of course, still learning every day) and have lessons learned that can be passed on then mentoring well be a way that you can pass on your experience in a way that not only supports another volunteer manager, but supports the whole sector of volunteer management, as this strengthens the line of support within a specific job description framework.


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.

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

An Open Letter to Senior Managers and Boards from leaders of volunteering

Download the letter

Recent events have shown what we in the charity and not-for-profit sector know to be true – that volunteering and community engagement is and remains a universally strong spirit. People, without being asked to step in, are coming forward to give their time and share their skills, to provide practical assistance, comfort and support; ultimately creating a sense of resilience and strength.  

But in order to support these initiatives and enable people to contribute effectively it is vital to think about how to develop and provide the relevant set up. Evidence on collective efficacy has shown that without the appropriate infrastructure and support to co-ordinate efforts and offers of help, community action can dissipate rather than proliferate. 

A key element of this infrastructure I would argue is having well trained and well supported people to provide the volunteer management. We are all familiar with the well-deserved accolade of volunteers to our organisations – and indeed the sector as a whole; but in order to enable volunteers to offer the greatest value we need to recognise that Volunteer Managers matter as well.  

Keeping a balance between efficient, supportive volunteer opportunities with a responsive and adaptable relationship, carries right though a volunteer journey. Volunteers need to be supported once they’re involved; in a way that is meaningful to them and meets their changing needs. At this time, this has extended into supporting volunteers who have been asked to temporarily stop their role and thinking about how we can re-engage them. Organisations which involve volunteers need to reflect on the importance of putting resources into their volunteering interventions, including equipping those who work with our volunteers. 

At a time when all organisations including charities are facing threat to their income, the value and impact which volunteers bring, extending the reach and resources and developing services and interventions which resonate within the community, really matters. As Joe Saxton from nfpSynergy said in a recent blog, “volunteers…could be at the heart of the shift” of making sure things get done.

If we are going to effectively build on the interest in volunteering which has come through this pandemic, and not lose the positives of the agile and flexible way that people have been able to get involved, organisations need to think widely and creatively about how they engage those who want to give their time – and in order to do this strategically they will need to keep the investment in volunteer management.

This is why a group made up of AVM, the Association of Voluntary Service Managers (AVSM), Heritage Volunteering Group (HVG), the Scottish Volunteering Forum and Volunteer Now have come together, convened by Rob Jackson and building on a similar alliance in the States, involving Betsy McFarland from Adisa, to write an open letter to leaders of organisations which involve volunteers  – to let them know the importance of having those who understand and lead on volunteer management at the table when discussing the future.

This is the first time we’ve worked together in this way as an alliance and I’m so proud that AVM has been part of that and hope we can bring our networks together in the future, so thanks for Rob for making that happen.

I’d like to thank Rob and Betsy who joined us at the launch of the letter and shared their thoughts and experience.

I’m proud that AVM has taken part in this important piece of work and to have been able to work across our organisations, and please do get in touch to feedback and let us know how you’d like us to promote this and support you to get the message out.

Download the letter

An Open Letter to Senior Managers and Boards from leaders of volunteering

Responses to the pandemic have shown what leaders of volunteers know to be true – that volunteering and community engagement is and remains a universally strong spirit. People, without being asked to step in, are coming forward to give their time and share their skills, to provide practical assistance, comfort and support; ultimately creating a sense of resilience and strength.

If we are going to effectively build on the interest in volunteering which has come through this crisis, and not lose the positives of the agile and flexible way that people have been able to get involved, organisations need to think widely and creatively about how they engage those who want to give their time – and in order to do this strategically they will need to keep the investment in volunteer management.

Rob Jackson convened a group made up of AVM, the Association of Voluntary Service Managers (AVSM), Heritage Volunteering Group (HVG), the Scottish Volunteering Forum and Volunteer Now, to write an open letter to leaders of organisations which involve volunteers, to let them know the importance of having those who understand and lead on volunteer management at the table when discussing the future.

I’m proud that AVM has taken part in this important piece of work and to have been able to work across our organisations and please do get in touch to feedback and let us know how you’d like us to promote this and support you to get the message out.

Download the letter

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