GRAVA Scholarship Awarded to Joanna Brown


GRAVA is pleased to announce that Joanna Brown, Volunteer & Special Events Coordinator for the Salvation Army, was awarded a scholarship to fund coursework at the Nonprofit Learning Point to help her prepare for CVA Certification.  Here is what Joanna had to say about her scholarship award:

“Thank you to GRAVA for the scholarship to attend the Supporting and Sustaining Volunteer Involvement [class] on August 10th.  I am excited to officially begin my journey to achieving a CVA.  

This seminar was engaging and incredibly helpful!  I appreciated the focus on giving Volunteer Managers practical tools that can be easily implemented in our current positions.  The conversations throughout the day were relevant and encouraging.  

One of the morning exercises we were asked to individually do was a SWOT [Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats] analysis of our own volunteer program.   In the afternoon, we gathered in groups of three to share one of the weaknesses or threats we identified in the SWOT analysis with our peers.  This was especially helpful, as the suggestions were positive and practical.  The input from my peers helped me to think outside of the box to tackle some issues in a creative, non-threatening way.

Another exercise in which we participated was to evaluate how well we are doing in seven key components of volunteer retention.  When I took the time to honestly evaluate where we are as an agency, it was easy to see what areas need to be improved upon and in which areas to congratulate staff for doing a good job.  To follow up with that assessment we were given a Retention Plan Worksheet to help us put everything on paper so we can take small, manageable steps to make improvement.  

Last, but definitely not least, I was so energized by the meeting, I took a leap of faith.  I wrote an email to my Divisional Headquarters and asked them to consider having a Volunteer Coordinator training tract at our 2017 Territorial Community Relations and Development Conference (15 states and Washington DC).  It would be awesome if they included some of the core competencies!    

Thank you again for facilitating this opportunity.  GRAVA has been invaluable to my professional development.”

Congratulations, Joanna!  We are excited to see you already putting what you have learned into action.  We wish you well as you work to pursue your CVA.

Do you have professional growth goals within Volunteer Management that you wish to pursue and would like to apply for a scholarship to do so?  GRAVA’s third and final scholarship application cycle for 2016 is now open.  You have until October 31st to submit your application for consideration.  Find out more about GRAVA’s scholarship opportunities HERE.


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Use your momentum!

I know many of you are still feeling energized from that amazing conference—I know I am. Keep those creative thoughts going and push your professional development! Take advantage of a GRAVA member scholarship and read a new book, take a class, or go for your Certification in Volunteer Administration. Still need a little inspiration? Read the lovely note below from a recent scholarship recipient.

Almost ten years ago, I joined GRAVA as the newest of “newbies”, not even knowing the most basic of volunte
er management basics. GRAVA has been with me literally every step of the way on my journey toward professional competence in the field of professional volunteer engagement, especially during the period in which I served on the board (2009-2015).

One of the biggest highlights of my journey along that path was receiving my CVA in 2011, and GRAVA helped to make that possible with a professional development scholarship. Being a member and board member of GRAVA has made it easy for me to fulfill my responsibilities as a CVA by providing me with continued access to the expertise of my peers and allowing me to keep striving toward excellence through continuous learning and growth. I feel I have come a very long way since those “deer in the headlights” days.

June 2016 was the deadline for my CVA recertification and GRAVA once again supported my efforts with a professional development scholarship.  Thanks to GRAVA and to CVA, my understanding of “excellence” continues to evolve and my capacity as a leader and collaborator continues to improve. Without these two professional support networks, I would not be who and bridge-1082117_960_720what I am today. It is truly a joy and privilege to get up every day and do work that I love, and I am just as thankful to be a part of this community as the day I joined.

Alison Jones-Nassar, CVA

Wow right? I don’t know about you all but I am going to take some time and think about what I need to do next to push my professional development!

Athena Huss, CVA
Outgoing Professional Development Chair

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Aliens, lions, and creative thinking.

I found myself walking to work today remembering how we planned to move extraterrestrials, elephants, and ants around our city! What a fun and productive day of development we shared yesterday. I hope everyone enjoyed the experience and pushed their minds to think a bit farther out of the box.

Four takeaways from the conference

  1. Innovation doesn’t have to be success or failure, it doesn’t have to be a big idea. Small ideas, incremental changes can be innovative.
  2. Start with questioning, not brainstorming. Brainstorming can narrow the discussion—it is better to have unanswered questions than to focus on one thing without considering more.
  3. Come up with many limitless ideas before focusing on any one thought.
  4. When you get stuck, re-frame! Drop a variable or think of the situation from a different perspective. Really different.
  5. When in doubt, imagine your problem from a childlike perspective.


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New Conference Location!

Due to summer renovations in the Capital One campus, our conference location has moved to the Wingate by Wyndham Richmond Short Pump (13991 North Gayton Rd., Richmond, Virginia 23233.)

Visit our conference page for full details.


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June Program Recap

At our June meeting, we took a hands on approach to applying last month’s learnings about using digital tools to tell compelling volunteer stories.

Our presenter, Lauren Devitt with Capital One Community Affairs, led group discussion of video case studies from local nonprofits, including a call to action from CARITAS, an event recap from Sports Backers,  and a volunteer testimonial from Comfort Zone Camp. Attendees offered great insights into what was working and what wasn’t, and came up with a really smart addition to to Greg Hoffbauer’s list of “Golden Rules” from May: “Always, always, always show your video to someone who doesn’t know about your organization before going public!”

Then we got meta: members broke into teams to put these concepts to work telling a digital story about GRAVA. Each group was responsible for a different type of content – “B Roll” video, video interviews, audio interviews, and pictures. In less than 10 minutes, the teams had gathered a treasure trove of great sound, video, and images to be assembled into an animoto video we’ll share at the July conference. (And it looks like they had a lot of fun doing it: here’s a sneak peek at one of the resulting images!)

GRAVA.jpgDownload the complete roundtable presentation here.

Many thanks to Angela Haskovec (Sr. Program Coordinator – Women’s Program, Women and Young Farmers Programs and Agriculture in the Classroom) and the Virginia Farm Bureau for hosting our meeting.

Can your organization host a GRAVA meeting next programming year?  Please contact Jan or Debbie to learn more.

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President’s Message for June 2016

ChrysanthemumThis is It, a song by Kenny Loggins, to me is a call to action.  “This is it, make no mistake where you are.  This is it, the waiting is over.”  One place you will want to be on July 28th is at the annual GRAVA Professional Conference.  Each year we host a day of learning, networking, sharing and professional development and growth and this year is no exception!  Be sure to register and attend this exciting day where we will be introduced to CrossThink Strategies for Innovation.

This is it, your new GRAVA leadership!  At the June Roundtable the membership voted on the GRAVA slate of candidates for the 2016-2017 Board.  We welcome Jennifer Miller and Whitney Guthrie as Conference Co-Chairs, Brynn Markham as Professional Development Chair, Cheryl Kosakowski as Treasurer and Tawana Demery who joined the board in January as Membership Chair.  Thank you to all who stepped forward and agreed to serve in this capacity!

“This is it, the waiting is over”, this year’s Volunteer Engagement Professional of the Year (VEP) will be announced at the GRAVA Professional Conference!  You won’t want to miss this.

Wishing you all a wonderful summer filled with some time to reflect on the first half of the year and time to plan and rejuvenate for the second half.  Remember This is it!

See you in July!

Melissa M. Gilmore, M Ed., CVA
GRAVA President


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Bringing Creativity to your Work.

One of the most wonderful things about Volunteer Administration is the incredible variety of tasks involved with the work. This multi-dimensional role requires us to think of creative solution to problem—unfortunately sometimes it’s hard to get out800px-PET-image of the box. Check out these great articles to start approaching problems with a new perspective and to bring creativity to your work: Exercises to Smash your Creative Blocks How to Find Creative Solutions to Non-Creative Problems 5 Ways to be More Creative in a Noncreative Job

Still want more? Check out our annual conference next month on  CrossThink Strategies for Innovation!

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