Bookings Now Open for AVM Conference 2016

welcome to avmThe conference team have been busy, the venue is booked, keynote speakers are in place and the Volunteer Management event of the year, and highlight of the AVM calendar, is ready to go.
Bookings for this year’s AVM annual conference are now open.  You can book your place here.
This year we are offering a small number of member tickets at last year’s conference price so book early to enjoy all of this year’s conference benefits at last year’s price – what could be better.
Key note speakers this year are:
• Karl Wilding, Director of Public Policy and Volunteering at NCVO
• Julie Bentley, Chief Executive of Girlguiding
• Joe Saxton, Driver of Ideas at nfpSynergy and its founder
Workshops this year include:
• Volunteers and the Law
• Future Trends and Issues in Volunteer Management
• Measuring Volunteer Impact
• Volunteering and Digital Media
It’s an exciting conference programme and we look forward to seeing you there.

Volunteer led organisations

In the final part of our “Embedding a Volunteer Culture” blog series, Lynn explores what it means for an organisation to be ‘volunteer led’. 
Is being ‘volunteer led’ essential to a pro volunteering culture? What do we mean by ‘volunteer led’?
Most charities are quite literally volunteer led, since responsibility lies with the Board of Trustees, which is usually unpaid.
But does it mean something more, such as being wholly volunteer run, or acknowledging the low staff/high volunteer ratio, or volunteers being involved in setting vision, strategy, policy and how volunteers are engaged – perhaps as representatives of the charity’s beneficiary group or customer base?
Given the importance of a ‘one team’ approach to a pro volunteering culture, how do staff feel about being part of an organisation that is ‘volunteer’ led? Moreover, how do volunteers feel about that? In the same way that it might not be useful to talk about volunteer ‘programmes’, it marks out volunteers as being different/separate. Lots of grass root community activity is volunteer led and can be a good thing, but in an organisation that employs both paid and unpaid staff, should we be talking about it being volunteer led?
Several volunteers I have worked with have expressed anxiety at the prominence of volunteers in their organisations, concerned that staff will feel disempowered. This is sometimes married with feelings that volunteers shouldn’t have a say about strategic issues – that being outside of their proper domain and, very often, their interest. And staff can feel left out when there is a focus on volunteering development – ‘what about us?’.
I’ve worked in organisations where induction, reward and recognition is better for volunteers than it is for staff. Volunteers can also be treated differently to staff, manifested in double standards – inappropriate volunteer behaviour is not dealt with for fear of upsetting a much needed team – risking the credibility of staff. We do need to make volunteers feel valued – Volunteers’ Week is a great initiative as is giving thanks/feedback regularly – but if volunteers genuinely get value from their involvement and are thanked for that, is there also a need to mark them out as particularly special (more special than staff) because they give their time for free?
Still, given that most charities have more unpaid than paid staff, it of course makes sense that volunteers have a strong voice, or at least the opportunity should be there for those who want it. Having Trustees who understand and champion volunteering is also vital – don’t assume that Trustees, as volunteers themselves, will understand volunteering. In terms of voice, there is often a gap between that senior body of volunteers and those in other roles – very often few opportunities to drive/contribute strategically, or playing key roles.
Senior managers and other staff often pay lip service to volunteering, not understanding it and its power. This ignorance can lead to suspicion of volunteer motivations (often related to job security), and misconceptions around a lack of professionalism and reliability can lead to a lack of trust and reluctance to relinquish control.
Volunteering has never had such a high profile, but some organisations still state that volunteers can’t do the same jobs as paid workers, though in practise this is rarely the case. It is difficult to see how  gardeners, researchers and retail volunteers aren’t doing the same job as their paid counterparts.
Perhaps it’s something to do with paid staff taking overall responsibility for the organisation and quality of the work, but this attitude, coupled with a lack of understanding of why people volunteer, also leads to missed opportunities to ask volunteers to do things that some consider inappropriate in other ways. As Canal & River Trust colleagues will testify, whilst engineers and surveyors are keen to share their skills and time, some of us actually do just want to pick up litter or scrub graffiti off bridges.
People will still volunteer, even if the volunteering culture isn’t great, because they are passionate and committed. But in these changing times of increased competition for people’s free time that probably won’t last for long.
This guest blog is by Lynn Blackadder, a coach and consultant with 22 years’ experience of helping organisations involve volunteers. Lynn blogs in a personal capacity.
[email protected] , @lynnblackadder )

Investing in volunteering

In contrast to Lynn Blackadder’s last post in our “Embedding a Volunteer Culture” blog series, today she discusses how to best involve and create a framework for volunteers when an organisation (and its culture) is already up and running. 
If you can’t start from scratch and build volunteering in with the bricks, you need to invest time and money to affect culture change.
An organisation that has been thinking differently about volunteering for some time is the National Trust – an organisation set up by volunteers, governed by an elected, unpaid Council and Board of Trustees.
The Trust has a clear volunteering vision that aims to involve volunteers from all walks of life in all roles and at every level – shaping the Trust’s work, not just delivering it. Trust staff and volunteers are working hard to encourage their places to take a ‘one team’ approach, avoiding a culture of ‘us and them’. Two properties I have worked with – Polesden Lacey and Nymans – have achieved this by:

  • Recruiting volunteers to supervisory/coordination roles
  • Staff and volunteers designing and delivering together core induction and other training sessions. New staff and volunteers are inducted together, setting expectations and embodying the culture from the outset
  • Creating a forum or sounding board – representatives from all teams working together to take stock, give feedback and influence what happens
  • Celebrating success and rewarding achievement together
  • Creating policies that apply to all – everyone signs up to the Trust’s values and behaviours and are treated equally.

The Trust invests heavily in volunteering development to ensure that people running its places feel confident and capable of providing an excellent experience. Fully embedding a devolved volunteer management structure has been key to that. With such high numbers of volunteers at many Trust places, responsibility for the volunteering experience has become part of many roles as opposed to one.
This is essential to sustaining a pro-volunteering culture, as is raising awareness through induction and training of why people volunteer and how to get the best out of working relationships – whether or not people are directly supervising volunteers.
In any organisation I might run, I would never put someone in charge of people – paid or unpaid – without people management experience. Yet so many organisations do, and this is often a major factor affecting the volunteer experience and culture. Inexperienced people managers are expected to get results from a very diverse range of people, some of whom have, quite rightly, very high expectations of management – generally, but often based on substantial previous professional experience.
Creating one set of communications for all is also key: newsletters, daily briefings and consultations that everyone receives regardless of role. And people feel valued when we demonstrate that we listen to them: a strong team will accept (indeed seek out) open and honest conversation and feedback. Explanations as to why ideas and suggestions are/are not taken up is also vital.
This guest blog is by Lynn Blackadder, a coach and consultant with 22 years’ experience of helping organisations involve volunteers.
[email protected] , @lynnblackadder )
On 8 July, we will be hearing from Kate Adams, Head of Volunteering, and Liz Cyro, Head of Internal Communications, at Royal Mencap Society. They will be talking about Mencap’s volunteer culture, their agreed principles of volunteering, and how internal communications have been an essential partner in developing their people messaging.
To book your space on AVM’s “Embedding Volunteer Culture within an Organisation” Networking Day click here.

Maintaining a volunteering vision

In the second instalment of our “Embedding a Volunteer Culture” blog series, Lynn shares the benefits of ensuring volunteer involvement from the outset as well as maintaining a clear vision of their place within an organisation.

The volunteer program springs from the Museum’s strong belief in the importance of social inclusion. Museums in the twenty first century need to actively involve people from every level of their community …. Imperial War Museum North is wholly committed to lifelong learning … the program is a vital element of our accessible learning strategy that appeals to local – as well as national – audiences and encourages community involvement.
Jim Forrester, Director, IWM North

When IWM North opened its doors to the public in 2002 they were welcomed by a team of people, a great number of whom lived locally in the then regeneration area of Trafford. Many of those were volunteers who were, as I said at the time, ‘in with the bricks’: we recruited and started to involve around 250 volunteers whilst the museum was being built, and as the above quote shows, volunteering was at the heart of the museum’s strategy.
As a multi-site charity already engaging volunteers, with a volunteer board and strong volunteer belief and leadership at Executive level, the new museum was well placed to take volunteering to new heights – both in terms of reaching non-traditional volunteers and embedding volunteering in the new organisation.
With all of these ducks in a row, the cultural expectations of staff and volunteers – existing and those being recruited – were set well in advance, and this pro-volunteering culture permeated every aspect of the museum’s operations.
Of course, people move on, and sometimes new colleagues are less aware of volunteering’s role and power. They won’t necessarily relate to or understand the culture. This is why it’s crucial that everyone coming into an organisation is made aware of that culture from the first exposure: through job adverts, taster sessions, interviews, induction and training – right through to exit interviews.
Staff and volunteers should always be inducted and trained together whenever possible. Mess facilities should be shared, and reward and recognition should apply to everyone.
This guest blog is by Lynn Blackadder, a coach and consultant with 22 years’ experience of helping organisations involve volunteers.
[email protected] , @lynnblackadder )
On 8 July, we will be hearing from Rachel Tapp, Volunteer Coordinator for the London Borough of Havering Council, about building a volunteer program from scratch and exploring the journey towards an effective, working volunteer strategy woven throughout the aims and objectives of the wider organisation. To book your space on AVM’s “Embedding Volunteer Culture within an Organisation” Networking Day click here.

Networking Day: Embedding a Volunteer Culture Within your Organisation – 8th July

  • Does your organisation actively support volunteers or could they be doing more?
  • Do you struggle to get buy-in from senior level and the wider team for the importance and need to volunteers?
  • How does your organisational culture impact on a volunteers experience and what does this mean long-term?

This special Network Day has been designed to focus specifically on sharing experiences of how we can better develop a pro volunteering culture within our own organisation.
Book your space HERE
This event is kindly supported and hosted by Jewish Care.

Jewish Care
Amélie House,
Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Campus,
221 Golders Green Road,
NW11 9DQ

NOTE: Please do not bring any food or drinks to the venue other than water as all food on site needs to be kosher. Any other food or drink brought to the event will not be allowed on site. Lunch and refreshments will be provided throughout the day.

10:00am Arrivals, Tea and coffee and Informal networking

10:30am Welcome from AVM
10:35am Structured networking
11:00am Building and Effective Volunteer Programme from the Ground Up.
Rachel Tapp – Volunteer Co-ordinator – London Borough of Havering Council
How do you build a volunteering programme from scratch? What challenges might you meet along the way and how can you overcome them?
We will explore the journey towards an effective, working volunteer strategy woven throughout the aims and objectives of the wider organisation. This talk will touch on identifying the need for volunteers as well as writing and implementing rewarding and valuable roles and formalizing programmes with written policies all whilst getting your most important resource on-board – staff and service users.
12.00pm Developing a volunteering culture at Royal Mencap Society by engaging staff and volunteers through our internal people communications work.
Kate Adams – Head of Volunteering & Liz Cyro Head of Internal Communications – Royal Mencap Society
This presentation will take a look at Mencap’s volunteer culture as well as their agreed principles to volunteering and how internal communications have been an essential partner in developing their people messaging. Kate and Liz will give a practical overview of building the internal relationship whilst sharing internal communication copy and giving practical examples of what they did.
13:00 Lunch – To be provided
13:45pm Creating a Volunteer Culture Within Your Organisation.
Adrienne Thompson – Volunteer Development Manager – Arthritis Care
Arthritis Care has long been referred to as a ‘volunteer led’ organisation. However, until 2015, it had no dedicated volunteering function to ensure they honoured this statement.
While there have been amazing things happening across the UK, which are volunteer led, the culture within the organisation did not always exist to support this.
During this presentation Adrienne will describe the steps they have taken throughout the course of the year, and will share some tips around how to get organisational ‘buy in’.
Of course there have been challenges, but there have been many successes and lessons learnt. They hope to share these with you, and their plans for this ever evolving piece of work.
This has been an exciting journey for the whole organisation, but it isn’t over yet.
14:45pm Open Space (with tea and coffee)
An opportunity for attendees to lead or request discussions on topics relevant to them, drawing on peer support to explore challenges and celebrate successes
15:45pm Final comments and evaluation
16:00pm Close
Book your space HERE
Not a member? Why not join AVM and save on the cost of your ticket?  YOU CAN JOIN HERE
Simply complete the paperwork and send us a cheque and then pop back here and book on as a member – what could be easier? No need to wait for confirmation of membership

AVM Network Day – Retail Volunteer Management

Our latest networking day on getting the best from retail volunteers was held in London on Thursday 19 May and brought together 35 participants from all over the UK, from retail heavyweights to those considering retail as a new revenue stream, small local charities to big national organisations it was a great day for networking and sharing new ideas and best practice.
Diane Eyre and Lily Caswell from Save the Children opened the day with their talk on the charities predominantly volunteer managed network of shops, the opportunities this model presents as well as the possible pit-falls and creating the right foundations to manage both. The key message being that if you empower your volunteers to do more and to take more responsibility then your organisation will reap the rewards.
They were followed by Karen Allsop and Liz Reed who joined us from Blue Cross who’s retail offering has increased significantly over recent years. Rapid expansion has forced them to take a closer look at their recruiting process and how they can attract volunteers more effectively by streamlining the application process and making volunteering for them more accessible.
And finally Alex South and Darryl Neville from Sense rounded of the day with their approach to volunteer recruitment and managing their individual shops needs with their Four Group Plan as well as demonstrating how they have implemented clear strategy to boost sales.
Many thanks for those of you who attended and to Nightingale Hammerson who very kindly provided the meeting space. For those of you who couldn’t make it we hope you will join us at our next event but in the meantime follow the below links to access the presentations
Managing the Rising Costs of Retail Staff by Diane Eyre & Lily Caswell, Save the Children
Keeping Pace with Retail by Karen Allsop & Liz Reed, Blue Cross
Empty Nests to Social Hubs – Alex South, Sense
The “Orange Shop” an Ongoing Journey – Darryl Neville, Sense

Volunteer Managers Networking Evening

  • 18:30 – 21:00 Tuesday Feb. 25th 2014
  • The Euston Flyer, 83-87 Euston Road, London NW1 2RA

Calling all Volunteer Managers! After two successful events, we have decided a third networking evening is long overdue. It would be great to see familiar faces from the previous events but we would love to see new faces too. So, if you’re new to the group, the very simple idea is to have an opportunity to network with like-minded volunteering professionals in an informal setting.
We will be meeting at the Euston Flyer, which is located between Euston and King’s Cross, and we have a space booked from 6:30pm under my name.
If you’re interested in attending, please register so we have an idea of numbers and if you have any questions, let me know. Otherwise, I look forward to seeing you there!
Lucy Goodwill
Originally posted on ivo

Northern network of volunteer managers

  • 5:00pm – 6:30pm – Thursday 13th February 2014
  • Edge Street, Manchester M4 1HN

On the 8th Jan, 4 of us met for the first time as part of the revived northern network of volunteer managers. It was great to connect with each other and to hear about how the group has been very useful in the past. Broadly we agreed that the objectives of the group are:

  • To provide professional peer support to one another – a safe space to ask advice, share difficulties and successes, as well as occasionally say “arggghhh!!”
  • To share learning and allow a space for creative thinking
  • To consider how we support the wider development of volunteering and volunteer management through the networks we are involved in and encourage each other in our own professional development too.

We agreed that members of the group would take it turns to chair it – perhaps by bringing a theme to look at or an issue they would benefit from discussing.
If you work in volunteer management and would find a group like this useful, we warmly welcome you to join us.
Hope to see you there
Emma Makarova
National Volunteering Manager – Refugee Action
Originally posted here: