3 Ways to Boost Your Skills During National Volunteer Week

Boost Your Volunteer Engagement SkillsHappy National Volunteer Week! Throughout the week, we’re celebrating the amazing people who volunteer and make volunteerism possible by sharing easy ways to listen, learn, inspire, and act!

Up today: Learn. We’ll show you 3 ways to boost your volunteer engagement skills during National Volunteer Week 2016 and beyond.

  1. Join a Webinar

On Thursday April 14, 2016 at 11 a.m. PT / 2 p.m. ET, our in-house CVA and volunteer engagement expert Jennifer Bennett will explain how to effectively delegate volunteer engagement and management work to volunteers so you have the opportunity to “think bigger.” Learn more about this free webinar and reserve your spot today!

Can’t make it on Thursday or interested in different topics? Jennifer hosts multiple webinars each month. Check out this list of upcoming topics.

  1. Find Out Where You Stand

How does your volunteer engagement program compare with others? VolunteerPro recently released a volunteer management benchmark report based on a survey of 930 volunteer engagement professionals. Want to know if job title affects salary? How about the top volunteer engagement challenges? It’s all there and more.

Read about the report’s six most surprising findings or download the full report to get an in-depth understanding of the state of the industry.

  1. Read It From the Experts

What if you could get perspectives from 35 of the leading volunteer engagement experts under one book cover? Each chapter of Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World is written by an expert on a specific and important volunteerism-related topic. The book contains actionable advice on strengthening volunteer programs as well as broader explorations on the nature of volunteer engagement. Learn more and get your copy now.


Volunteer engagement professionals wear many hats, and spare time can be hard to come by. But by investing in some “me-time” to learn new skills and boost your volunteer engagement knowledge, you’ll in turn boost the impact and efficiency of your volunteer program. Happy learning!

How to Embrace Your Volunteer Management Super Powers

Guest post by Elisa Kosarin, Twenty Hats

This post was originally published on Twenty Hats.

If you feel like you haven’t got enough power to make your vision a reality, read this post.

When I was planning my October 7 retreat for volunteer managers, Leading From Where You Are, there were several things that I absolutely knew I wanted to cover – things like the principles of buy in, work/life balance, and what it’s like to lead in a nonprofit scarcity environment. And being the planner that I am, I drew up a nice detailed timetable, mapped out how many minutes we had for each exercise, and then stared at my agenda in consternation: we had extra time that I really wanted to fill with something valuable and different. What might that be?

On a hunch I threw in a discussion based on an article I had found about the different kinds of power that we all possess. I had never facilitated this type of discussion before and wasn’t sure if it would fly or sink.

Our conversation around our power ended up being one of the liveliest parts of the day (and this was a retreat with a lot of lively discussion!)

I know from my own work and from working with other volunteer managers that we spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out ways to bring our bosses or co-workers on board with our big ideas. Sometimes we approach these “internal strategy sessions” with a measure of despair, because we feel we do not have the leverage to make things happen.

Not true.

We may lack “Legitimate Power,” meaning that our position may not rank at the top or carry as much authority, but we hold other forms of power that make it possible for us to turn our ideas into realities.

  • One of my clients leveraged her connection power to initiate an agency-wide staff training on volunteer management. She is someone who is respected and trusted by the leadership – a position that made it much easier to bring them on board with this new project.
  • Another client is the only person in her office to work with court-mandated volunteers. That’s expert power, and even though she’s the youngest person on staff, her office depends on her to fulfill a grant-mandated service.
  • We also hold the power to elevate ourselves professionally. When we meet with our colleagues at conferences or through our local DOVIAS, we share tips and strategies to do our current jobs better or receive leads on more fulfilling positions. That’s information power and referent power in action.

Ultimately we are all gatekeepers for a tremendous source of power – the power of volunteers to expand the capacity of organizations to fulfill their missions and transform the world. If you are the type who worries that your boss or coworkers don’t recognize or appreciate this amazing resource, remember that you have the power to cultivate their buy-in. It may take some guidance or self-reflection to figure out the next steps, but it’s entirely doable.

You can read more about power by viewing the article that inspired this conversation in the first place. The author, Sharlyn Lauby, comes from the HR world. One more example of how managing people is at the heart of effecting change.

Tweet this post! If you agree with my POV, share this message:

Volunteer managers hold plenty of power to turn their ideas into realities, http://twentyhats.com/?p=1904

Raising Our Voices to Advocate Against Poverty [Webinar]

Guest post by Meredith Dodson

Join us for this special nonprofit insights webinar about nonprofit advocacy.

For the past seventeen years, I’ve talked to people every day about the importance of engaging in advocacy, in addition to the great service work happening in communities across the country. Why? Because of people like LaNae.

I met LaNae in Washington D.C. in the summer of 2013, when she was attending the RESULTS International Conference. As a single mother making $8.25 an hour, LaNae depended on SNAP benefits (formerly Food Stamps) to put food on the table each month. While in D.C., she participated in workshops, panel discussions, and skill building, culminating in an advocacy day on Capitol Hill with other RESULTS volunteers. The goal? To convince her Congressional Representatives not to make devastating cuts to a program that had been such a lifeline for her and her seven-year-old son, Konnor.

Not long after returning home to Albuquerque, LaNae watched C-SPAN in awe as her own story was recounted on the floor of the House of Representatives. Standing before a photo of Konnor, Albuquerque Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham called on her congressional colleagues to protect SNAP.

“Before joining RESULTS,” I didn’t even know what the Congressional Record was. Now I’m in it,” LaNae said.

It took courage for LaNae to share her story and to ask her member of Congress to take action. But she did it, and Rep. Lujan Grisham was so moved by LaNae’s story she wanted to share it with others. I hope you will too.

At RESULTS, we use our voices to influence political decisions that will bring an end to poverty. We believe there is a lot of power in talking to important decision-makers about the policies that impact all our lives, because if we all raise our voices together, we can create change. Advocacy really does work.

Here is an example: I have a favorite slide I like to show in any training or presentation. I admit, I am obsessed with this visual from the Congressional Management Foundation on effective ways to communicate with members of Congress. After polling over 250 staff persons from congressional offices, they put out a report, Communicating with Congress: Perceptions of Citizen Advocacy on Capitol Hill, that affirms the impact we can have when we get involved. Personal communications with members of Congress are the most influential action a constituent can take – meaning all of us can make a difference as individuals and as a part of organizations. In fact, 97 percent of the Congressional staff surveyed said face-to-face meetings with constituents had a lot or some positive influence. As you can see, that’s a lot more than a visit from a lobbyist – if we get involved.

Join us for this special webinar on nonprofit advocacy.That’s why I’m thrilled to be joining the Alliance to End Hunger and the Alliance for Justice as a part of VolunteerMatch’s Nonprofit Insights Webinar Series. During a conversation on September 16, we will discuss what “advocacy” really means, how we will use the latest Census data to further our work, and how organizations can participate in advocacy more effectively. Since I work with a network of volunteer advocates at RESULTS, I’ll make sure we talk about how to use the time you have to make the biggest impact. I hope you’ll join us!

Nonprofit Insights: Advocacy & Service-Focused Nonprofits, Challenges and Opportunities

Wednesday September 16th, 10 a.m PT (1 p.m. ET)


  • Abby LevineLegal Director of the Bolder Advocacy initiative at Alliance for Justice
  • Meredith DodsonDirector of RESULTS’ U.S. poverty campaign work
  • Minerva DelgadoDirector of Coalitions & Advocacy at the National Alliance to End Hunger
  • Jennifer BennettSenior Manager of Education & Training at VolunteerMatch

Register today!

About the author: Meredith Dodson is the Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns at RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.results.org.

Volunteer Program Improvement Tool: What We’ve Learned So Far!

The tool specifically for hunger-related organizations We launched our Volunteer Program Improvement Tool for hunger-related organizations with the hope of creating something that volunteer program mangers could use to take their programs to the next level.

But we also wanted all of that sweet, sweet data.

Since its launch a few months ago, over 300 people have used the tool to get personalized information and resources for increasing the effectiveness of their volunteer engagement program. We’ve aggregated the data and calculated benchmarks, and now we want to share what we’ve learned.

Why is this data important to you?

By knowing where your program falls in relation to other similar programs, you’ll be equipped with knowledge to effectively advocate for your program’s growth. One of the main goals I had for this tool was for leaders of volunteer engagement to be able to use these benchmarks and aggregate data to advocate for additional resources – time and money – to build and support their volunteer program.

Join me on Tuesday August 18th at 11 a.m. Pacific / 2 p.m. Eastern for an informal, interactive webinar. I’ll walk through the information we’ve gathered about how hunger-related organizations are currently engaging volunteers, and what’s in store for the tool in the future. Register today.

I want to make sure that the information we’re sharing is the information you need! So be prepared to participate in polls and share your priorities for information and resources.

And if you haven’t done so yet, check out the tool, or learn more about it and our partnership with ConAgra Foods Foundation.

Don’t Keep All That Volunteer Engagement Knowledge to Yourself!

VolunteerMatch is now accepting Nonprofit Insights Webinar session proposals.

Has your organization done something out-of-the-ordinary with your volunteer program? Have you witnessed new trends or conducted research around volunteerism? Are you simply a volunteer engagement rockstar?

Don’t keep all that knowledge to yourself! VolunteerMatch is asking nonprofit professionals, academics, and/ or volunteers with something to share to submit session proposals for our Nonprofit Insights Webinar series.

Topics should relate to the webinar’s mission of building a better world through volunteerism. Some examples of overarching topics include: volunteer program manager empowerment, engaging volunteers through social media, setting up a virtual volunteer program, fundraising strategy, engaging skilled volunteers, corporate-nonprofit partnerships, etc.

By presenting at a Nonprofit Insights Webinar, you will be a voice in the community of nonprofits at VolunteerMatch – they’ll benefit from your knowledge, experience and opinions. Plus, promotional outreach to our massive networks will get your name and your topic in front of a wide audience. Finally, it will be fun, we promise!

Interested? Learn more and/ or submit a session proposal.