MAVA’s In with the Bold Conference ended a couple days ago and, as always, I walked away energized, inspired and committed to “Be Bold”. We know that volunteers are vital to meeting the needs of our communities. Millions of people nationwide have the energy and desire to help, and research shows that organizations embracing strategic volunteer engagement (SVE) are significantly more adaptable, sustainable and capable of going to scale.(Source: TCC Group, Positive Deviants’ in Volunteerism and Service: Research summary). We also know that communities across the country are struggling to respond to the pandemic crisis, a faltering economy and racial injustices. Not only are volunteers critical to the response in these turbulent times, but research demonstrates a strong connection between organizations that operate with volunteer engagement as a core strategy for mission accomplishment and the overall health and effectiveness of the organization. Unfortunately, volunteers are frequently viewed as simply “nice helpers” and organizations and funders alike need to shift this narrow perception to recognize the pivotal role the community can play in sustaining and expanding mission reach.
MAVA’s 2017 Conference resulted in the creation of the National Alliance for Volunteer Engagement https://all4engagement.org/purpose/. This was perhaps the most “Bold” move that has come out of any MAVA conference. The mission of The National Alliance is to guide and inspire collective action towards embracing volunteer engagement as a key strategy for driving positive community change. The intended impact of The Alliance is that mission-driven entities prioritize volunteer engagement as a key strategy that expands the capacity of the nonprofit sector and strengthens communities. Here are some tips* from The Alliance that will propel you into the Bold:
Advocate for enterprise-wide Strategic Volunteer Engagement (SVE) by sharing volunteer impact data with leadership and colleagues. Create impact reports listing outputs and outcomes as a result of volunteer involvement.
Ask to be part of the annual planning process so you can identify opportunities to engage volunteers to build organizational capacity.
Ensure your volunteer program is visible within your organization:
- Regularly provide volunteer updates and data for meeting agendas.
- Develop an annual volunteer engagement plan.
Integrate the best practices and principles of volunteer engagement across your volunteer program.
Support fellow staff members by helping identify and develop volunteer roles.
- Build buy-in from staff and entity leaders.
- Recruit and train volunteers to become partners in the work.
- Support your team members in achieving a certification in volunteer administration (CVA).
Share the benefits of SVE in discussions with your supervisor.
- Actively listen and ask about the organization’s perspective and vision for both volunteers and volunteer engagement.
- Strategize how volunteers can help support both long- and short-term goals
Interface. Reach out across different sectors of society and internal cross-divisional staff to convey the importance of maximizing volunteer engagement as an integral function of building capacity, sustainable efficiency and expansion of volunteer engagement.
*Source VEP Handout, The Alliance for Volunteer Engagement.
For more information about The National Alliance for Volunteer Engagement, check out: https://all4engagement.org/purpose/.