CVA Study Group

Pursuing your CVA this year? You may want to consider the support and accountability offered by a CVA study group!

Make It Happen Now is offering a CVA study group from August 9 – October 4 featuring weekly virtual study sessions with colleagues from different types of volunteer settings who are CVA candidates taking the 2017 exam.

Weekly 90-minute sessions will be held from 4-5:30 PM. Learning methods will include conference calls, webinars, case study discussions, practice quizzes, and the opportunity to participate in a private Facebook Group for online discussion.

Download the Study Group flyer for more information on signups, pricing, and testimonials from past study group members.


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2017 Annual Conference Materials

Thank you for your time and energy during our 2017 Annual Conference, featuring Beth Steinhorn, President of the JFFixler Group! We hope you found the day both practical and inspirational. As promised, Beth has shared her slides. Click here to access the deck.

Fixler Deck.PNG

As Beth mentioned, additional resources are also available on her website: Please take a few minutes to check out the tools, they will help you transition from theory to practice as you put your pilot into action.

Here are direct links to the printable resources we used in our session:

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

GRAVA conference

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May 2017 Program Recap

At our May meeting, we learned from our GRAVA member Marcos Martinez, Volunteer Coordinator at Higher Achievement, who wowed us with his innovative presentation discussing his hands on experience to streamline the volunteer data collection process to improve the volunteer program for Higher Achievement.

Marcos began with a brief Introduction and History of their efforts to get feedback from the volunteer mentors about their weekly experience. The challenges included a lengthy feedback form requested to be completed weekly, a lot of incomplete surveys, and too many variables to measure effectively.

He walked us through the Activities he pursued to address the challenges, and how he approached reducing the variables by connecting each question to the organization’s mission and the mentor’s role, to distill 20 questions down to just six.

Finally, Marcos presented the Action undertaken to use Excel to track the now streamlined feedback form, ongoing plans to leverage the data to improve volunteer satisfaction and retention, and future plans to further leverage technology and the survey data.

Marcos relied on these tools which he highly recommends:  Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring and the Youtube series: Excel Is Fun.

Marcos’ excellent presentation can be found here.

(If you are not familiar with viewing a Prezi presentation, click the arrows in the black band near the bottom of your screen to navigate through the presentation, or skip around to sections of interest.)

Many thanks to LaMont Sledge and Saint Paul’s Baptist Church, Creighton Campus, for so graciously hosting us in one of their classrooms on their beautiful campus!

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March Program Recap

While college basketball players were gearing up for March Madness, three panelists and our moderator made the panel discussion on Crafting a Winning Strategy for Episodic Volunteers a slam dunk at our March Workshop.

March panel with audience 0302170911.jpgKathy Perun, CVA, from St. Joseph’s Villa, Jamie Seagraves, from Capital One, and Holly Gordon, from HandsOn Greater Richmond, offered many great suggestions on planning an event that will welcome and inspire volunteers as well as actually benefit your organization. Here is a link to their Tip Sheet. A special thank you goes out to the three panelists and our moderator, Ann Easterling, who works with the US Army Quartermaster Museum at Fort Lee and the Prince George County Heritage Center.

We also heard from Sara Beachamp, a recipient of a GRAVA professional development scholarship about a class on Story Telling through the Nonprofit Learning Point which was beneficial to her and which she recommends highly.

Holly Gordon announced some special events coming up for HandsOn like Global Youth Service Day and a collaboration with The Spark Mill to nominate volunteers for recognition in the Power of Good 2017 initiative.

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President’s Message: March 2017

luckyMarch is almost over, already! Seems somewhat hard to believe, but it is a reality. In light of the season, my theme song for this month’s President’s message is “With a Little Luck” by Paul McCartney and Wings. It is a great song and who doesn’t want to feel like they have a little Luck on their side? When we think about our work with volunteers we have to not only feel a little luck, but have definite plans and processes in place to ensure success. As leaders in the field, it is imperative we are equipped and ready to receive, orient, train, engage, coach, recognize and retain our volunteers.

At the March Workshop, we had a great panel to share their experiences and expertise in working with and making the most of episodic volunteers. Doing this successfully is not a bi-product of a little luck, but so much more. We have to make sure we examine everyone’s roles. We need to make it meaningful and connect to your “WHY”. People don’t buy what you do, people buy why you do it. We were also lucky to learn that people have a limited amount of time to give to your organization and most people work full time. So we must be respectful of the time volunteers can donate to our organizations. We are lucky to have them!

I feel lucky to be on this journey with you!

See you in April!

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

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February Meeting Recap

Peer to Peer Learning: Challenges and effective strategies

Thanks to the Health Brigade Team of Sarah Ann Jennings, Volunteer Coordinator, and Polly Foster, Resource Manager, for a lovely, renovated space for our February Roundtable, on Peer to Peer Learning: Challenges and effective strategies.

Robust discussions in the three focus groups provided some great insights to problems which participants were currently working through at their organizations.


Brynn Markham facilitated the discussions on “having difficult conversations with volunteers.”

  1. Provide clarity through job descriptions
  2. Make sure training includes step by step procedures which are monitored by the trainer to be sure that the volunteer understands what is required. Help volunteers understand the importance of their part of the process.
  3. When volunteer responsibilities are changing, include volunteers in the planning.

Melissa Gilmore and Jen Miller led the discussions on getting staff buy-in on the value of volunteers to an organization.

  1. Educate staff by including volunteer information in their initial orientation with your organization. Offer guides and mentoring for staff as they work with volunteers.
  2. Help staff build relationships with volunteers by including their stories in newsletters, including them in celebrations, and or team meetings, and other communication channels.
  3. Encourage and help staff develop volunteer roles which will help relieve staff stress.
  4. Look at Betty Stallings trainings to train staff on topics which are meaningful for your staff.

Whitney Guthrie and Tawana Demery facilitated discussions on finding and recruiting new participants for your volunteer program.

  1. Evaluate your program and be intentional in looking for new sources of volunteers.
  2. Include your staff in planning for new volunteers and trouble shooting any perceived issues.
  3. Network with peers to find opportunities to address new pools of volunteers.
  4. Be specific in developing job descriptions so the organization which skills you need to recruit for.

With these strategies and more coming out of the discussions, Brynn Markham, Professional Development Chair for the GRAVA Board, explained the Peer2Peer Mentoring available through GRAVA. More information is available at the GRAVA website here or email Brynn if you are interested in the peer learning opportunities.


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President’s Message for February 2017

supremes“You Can’t Hurry Love” by the Supremes and then later re-recorded by Phil Collins is a soul classic!  It seems only fitting to discuss love in the month of February!  As managers and leaders of volunteers we love what we do!  Sure we have some days where we have to remind ourselves of why we do what we do, but ultimately at the end of the day, we know we have made a difference and our volunteers have made an impact.  We love knowing our efforts have made our community a better place for everyone.

We don’t want to hurry when we think about our volunteerism efforts.  The time we spend recruiting, screening, interviewing, orienting and training should be quality time and know that the work we do on the front end, is well worth it.  When we put time into volunteer staffing and development, we reap the benefits in the long run.

At the February Roundtable, we were able to share our knowledge, ideas and love in regards to How to have difficult discussions with volunteers, How to have difficult discussions with staff who don’t see the value in volunteers and How to recruit diverse volunteers and find new volunteer audiences.  I loved facilitating one of the discussion tables and hearing all the input from our members!  We really do have a wealth of knowledge in our GRAVA family and it is always a joy to see that shared with one another.

Continue to spread the love and share the impact you, your volunteers and your volunteer services are making!  

See you in March,

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

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