help_outline Skip to main content

News / Articles

Rekindling Connections Across Minnesota

Holly Daniels | Published on 12/28/2022

Hi everyone, from Holly Daniels, your Greater Minnesota program manager!

From the perspective of the Greater Minnesota program, 2022 was the year of people poking their heads out of their shells and wanting connection. 

Before getting into some highlights of the year, we want to take a moment to thank the Otto Bremer Foundation, who have provided MAVA with a generous grant for several years, that makes our Greater Minnesota program possible!

District Council Meetings

District Council Meetings are one of the defining features of the Greater Minnesota program. Back in 2017, MAVA drew lines to create MAVA “districts.” And each quarter, we would host an in-person meeting for folks in that part of the state. I’ve heard that people would sometimes drive for an hour to attend these gatherings!

The purpose was twofold: To gather volunteer engagement leaders, for the purpose of connecting over successes and struggles with volunteers. And to advise and counsel MAVA — to let us know what they need in order to recruit and retain amazing volunteers to meet the needs of their communities!

Today our District Council meetings are hosted on Zoom and we welcome volunteer engagement leaders from the metro to join, as well as folks outside of Minnesota. We also see District Councils as an entrypoint for folks to attend a free, open event and learn about MAVA’s resources!

In 2022 MAVA hosted 20 District Council meetings and our goal was to double 2021 District Council attendance (which was 45 participants). We surpassed our goal of 90 and had 151 participants call in from all corners of Minnesota and beyond Minnesota! 

We hope you’ll watch MAVA’s training and events calendar and jump into an upcoming District Council Meeting, if you’re looking for ideas, support, and energy for your work with volunteers!

Also Coming Soon in 2023:

  • The chance for MAVA to host some in-person District Councils!

  • A quarterly gathering for volunteer engagement leaders outside of Minnesota. 

Trainings out and about

One of the amazing advantages of District Council meetings is the chance for attendants to hear about innovative strategies folks are coming up with to engage volunteers in this new, shifting volunteerism landscape! 

To read these stories, scroll all the way down to check out “Stories from the Field” in the news/articles section of MAVA’s website. 

I also get to share those stories of innovation when I deliver volunteer engagement trainings. Come to our January 24th Workshop on cutting-edge strategies for engaging volunteers, to hear some of them!

Most MAVA trainings and presentations are delivered virtually these days — for COVID reasons, convenience reasons, and weather reasons too!

But I’ve gotten to travel more in 2022, and deliver trainings in-person!

  • Last April, I traveled to St. Cloud to give the keynote address at a 40-person training put on by the St. Cloud Association of Volunteer Coordinators (SCAVC). 

  • I loved having the chance to speak in Brainerd this September, on The Ripple Effects of Volunteerism. That was a one-day conference organized by the Volunteer Coordinators Association of Crow Wing County, and it was held at the beautiful Northland Arboretum

  • In October I made the trek to Southwest Minnesota to present in Slayton, MN in partnership with Second Harvest Heartland. I delivered a training on rethinking volunteer recruitment to small, mostly volunteer-run food shelves in Southwest MN, and I learned so much from them about what’s hard, and what’s working in rural areas.

In February 2023, MAVA is partnering with Lonna Dille at Lakewood Health Systems to put on an event in Staples, MN that  we’re calling the “Central MN Volunteer Engagement Connect and Learn event!” We’ll have lunch, networking, and three different speakers from Central MN, including Lonna, share about new ideas for engaging volunteers! We’d love to have you there!

Dormant groups wanting to rekindle

In 2022 we’ve also seen the desire to connect lead to the resurgence of dormant regional volunteer coordinator groups:

  • A group of people who engage volunteers in Sherburne County started meeting again in Elk River, MN every other month. For more info, contact Carole at 

  • In Two Harbors, MN we’ve rekindled a network of volunteer coordinators, with the support of MAVA and a grant from the Duluth Superior Area Community Fund!

  • MAVA is teaming up with the United Way of Bemidji Area to start a group of volunteer engagement leaders that will meet for the first time in February. For more info, contact Gretchen at 

  • And in Grand Rapids, efforts are underway by the United Way of 1,000 Lakes to bring people together who engage volunteers in Itasca County. More info on their website here.

  • Finally, in 2023 the Rochester Area Volunteer Administrators (RAVA) will go back to meeting every month, and every other month, they’ll be in-person! For more info, reach out to

Are there other groups of volunteer engagement leaders meeting in Minnesota? Or do you want to connect with peers in our field? I’d love to connect — put some time on my calendar here!