February’s Message from the President

154445_797492876942911_435976117_nSince my mantra for 2014 is “Work Smarter, Not Harder,” one of the first promises I made to myself was to read more. Reading is one of the best tools in our professional development toolbox because it’s something we can do at any time, it doesn’t have to cost anything, and there is a wealth of materials out there offering wonderful advice, thought-provoking ideas, and fresh perspectives on the business of volunteer engagement.

Lots of books (including e-books) are available through the Energize Inc. bookstore, and one that is making me excited right now is The Abundant Not-for-Profit. This book describes the type of people-lens culture required to really engage volunteers (referred to in this book as Knowledge Philanthropists) in a deeply strategic way. Since VSH just recently hired a new ED and we were also one of the organizations selected for the Service Enterprise pilot program, I am very optimistic that we can make this paradigm shift in 2014 and I want to be ready.

Another great source for reading material is Susan J. Ellis’ Energize Inc. e-newsletter. The most recent edition features a commentary by Ellis on The Complex Relationship of Volunteering and Money. It also includes links to a number of great blogs that cover topics ranging from Engaging Volunteers Online to Corporate Volunteer Motivation, from What The Volunteer Sector Can Learn From The Army to a beautiful personal reflection by a hospice volunteer program manager called First Do No Harm. A blog called Thoughtful Thursdays posed these three highly relevant questions:

  • What good stuff are you going to begin or do differently this year?
  • What useful tips and learning do you have to share with other volunteer managers?
  • What do you want to get thoughtful about this year?

Speaking of blogs, be sure to check out the recent Reimaging Service blog called Walking The Talk Of Ethics written by GRAVA’s own Katie Campbell, and then consider registering for Volunteer Match’s free webinar, The Ethics of Volunteer Management. That’s a perfect little professional development package right there!

Have you read the most recent report issued by the National Corporation on Volunteerism and Service yet? You can get some great stats and infographics to share with your executive leadership and board about the value and importance of your program by clicking here. Are you considering applying for your CVA within the next year or so? Read Tobi Johnson‘s blog, Six Great Reasons To Get Your CVA. Tobi also has a free publication called The New Volunteer Manager: The First 90 Days which is a GREAT resource for folks who are new and NOT so new to the field!

Finally, there is a lot of recent research emerging on the science of altruism that is very relevant to what we do and can help with our recruitment campaigns and training efforts. Two recent articles that I found particularly interesting were Five Reasons Why We Serve and The Top Ten Insights From The Science of a Meaningful Life. These articles, combined with a webinar on Telling The Story on Volunteer Impact, could completely change the way you talk about and recruit for your program. And I just ran across a little video on Karma Tube that explains the difference between empathy and sympathy so well that I plan to use it in my sensitivity training.

Our conversation at the February Roundtable actually led us into a discussion of an exciting idea that GRAVA board members have been tossing around – a buddy system – in which members who are relatively new to the profession would be paired with more experienced practitioners for regular problem-solving sessions. The response to this idea was very enthusiastic and so we will be working to launch it soon. If you would like to be PAIRED WITH a buddy or BE a buddy, please click here. In the meantime, happy reading! And PLEASE SHARE what you are reading at the next GRAVA workshop so that we can all benefit from the wealth of wisdom that is out there! See you in March!

At Your Service,

Alison Jones-Nassar, President, GRAVA

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