Anyone who leads volunteers has had this experience: an enthusiastic volunteer arrives, plugs in, provides consistent and thorough service, becomes central to your organization, and then one day, leaves. This can leave a volunteer manager both perplexed and dismayed. “What did I do wrong? Did I not show enough appreciation? Did I not challenge them enough? Or provide them with enough responsibility?”
Many in the volunteerism world in the U.S. (along with some international colleagues) are preparing for the annual National Conference on Volunteering and Service this June. It got Energize thinking about the best way to get the most out of attending conferences for professional development. Here are some ideas from Energize President Susan J. Ellis for taking a conference above and beyond sitting in workshops and taking notes.
We are generally primed to get excited by things that are new. But it's important to remember that traditional materials can remain useful, even vibrant. One great example is the Journal of Extension (JOE), the official refereed journal of the U.S. Cooperative Extension System (which includes 4-H, Master Gardeners, nutrition advisors and other volunteer-centered programs). As of June 1994, JOE has been published exclusively on the World Wide Web at www.joe.org. And the full contents are accessible to any site visitor at no charge.
Voluntourism, also known as volunteer vacationing, gives people the opportunity to travel for leisure and pleasure and volunteer in the countries they visit. Ideally, the vacationer gives meaningful service in return for getting the chance to meet local people in a personal way. A great place to learn more about all of this is VolunTourism.org, which has consistently advocated for the highest quality of service while genuinely doing good.
Guest commentator Rob Jackson draws three critical points from recent social media data that have direct relevance to leaders of volunteers – and gives tips for responding. Are you keeping up with how fast things are changing?