Lori Gotlieb On How to FInd Volunteer Success Within Your Organization

lori gotlieb volunteer success
 
 
If you want to build a successful volunteer program you have to be able to pivot, learn and move forward. We can’t return to how things were before the pandemic. Going digital has completely changed the way people approach volunteering and we now have an opportunity to use that to grow our programs and try new things. 

Lori Gotlieb is one of the contributors of Volunteer Success, a resource hub and match-making site for volunteers and organizations to grow and connect. She shares how nonprofits can create more sustainable and successful volunteer programs. 

Lori’s Top 3 Tips 


  1. Stay flexible! The pandemic isn’t over yet and if you want to succeed you have to constantly be adapting and pivoting your program to meet the needs of your community and your volunteers. 
  2. Look beyond your community! Everything has gone digital, and for some that have posed a challenge but it can also be an incredible opportunity to expand your capacity. You can collaborate with other nonprofits or look for volunteers outside of your country of origin. 
  3. Consult with your volunteers. Get their feedback on what is working and how you can improve your programs to better serve them and your community. They can tell you if your role descriptions are accurate or if more guidance is needed. 

Our Favourite Quotes 


[03:01] The other thing is that we really need to look at connecting with our stakeholders and our volunteers and get feedback from them. I think, again, historically, volunteer programs have been very, very much pushing out information and not gathering information other than the annual survey or focus group. And I think we need to move to much more open dialogue with our volunteers, peers because everybody's headspace has changed. And until we kind of figure out what people want now because we've all changed the way that we're thinking. 

[06:56]  I think we're at the beginning of something I hate to say it versus the end. So I say no geographical barriers. If we could do that and you can get your volunteers and you can get funding, what a creative way to do things like I just see so much opportunity there to bring volunteers from everywhere. And the fact is people are going to be working from home. People are not so quick to leave their homes anymore. So they still want to give back
 

Transcript 


Sabrina
Let's find volunteer success with the phenomenal Lori Gotlieb.

Hello and welcome to Driven's Fundraising Superheroes podcast. You know me, I'm your host, Sabrina Sciscente, and as an innovator in nonprofit, technology Driven is here to help you get the most out of your donors, your members and, yes, your volunteers. We have a volunteer management software. We would love to talk to you about your volunteer management program to reach out to us, a trust driven dotcom to learn more.

In order to get the most from your volunteers, you have to be willing to put the effort in to create an environment for them to succeed. You have to be willing to adapt it and change to meet the world around you and ensure that there are opportunities that best match the value and skill of your volunteers. You may remember Lori from the podcast already, but Lori Gotlieb is a volunteer pro. She is the person you want to talk to when it comes to volunteer management.

She is a contributing author to the Volunteer Management Handbook Second Edition. She helped build and teach members Volunteer Management and Leadership Program, and she also works as a consultant. Lori's current venture volunteer success that she has created with two of her colleagues is changing the game for volunteers and organizations. It is a hub of resources and also a matchmaking site that will help get volunteers and organizations united regardless of where they are in the world. Lori continues to push the boundaries of traditional volunteer management through her writing and teaching, and I am excited to have her back on the podcast today.

Sabrina
So thank you, Lori, for joining me.

Lori
My pleasure.

Sabrina
So from your experience, what does it mean to have a successful volunteer program?

Lori
So I think the first word that comes to mind nowadays is flexibility. Volunteer programs, we're having this conversation in a very strange time because we're just still in the hands of a pandemic. And with the pandemic, everything has been blown up. And I think that nonprofits, specifically volunteer programs, need to, as they come out of the pandemic or rebuild, need to learn how to be flexible, need to learn how to capture opportunities that are different, that can sustain change, that has both the in-person as well as the virtual component.

Lori
You know, it's interesting, prior to the pandemic and I think when we had our first conversation a while back, I always said virtual volunteering was something that I think needed to happen. And it was always at the side of the desk of the volunteer coordinator. And now, you know, when we went into the lockdown, it became the only means to basically run a volunteer program. And so I'm hoping that a successful volunteer program will embed that into their systems, into the foundation of what they do.

The other thing is that we really need to look at connecting with our stakeholders and our volunteers and get feedback from them. I think, again, historically, volunteer programs have been very, very much pushing out information and not gathering information other than the annual survey or focus group. And I think we need to move to a much more open dialogue with our volunteer, peers because everybody's headspace has changed. And until we kind of figure out what people want now, because we've all changed the way that we're thinking. We need to look at how much education the volunteers want, what is an iterative process?

Are we listening to our stakeholders? And so to be a successful volunteer program is going to have to have these layers. But key is going to be flexibility and creativity

Sabrina
100 percent.

And I love that you mentioned checking in with your volunteers. I know whenever I'm writing blogs or content and how to better programs, the first thing I go to is ask the people that you are trying to work whether it be your donors or volunteers because they give the best feedback like they're on the field. Who better to ask than the people you're working with?

Lori
And what they're doing, like even our world descriptions working anymore. You know, we're going to go back to our processes, are those roles working the way that they're supposed to be working, know volunteers are the only ones are going to be able to tell you whether that role description is going to be successful or do we need to break it down or is there a natural shift in what's happened?

Sabrina
Is it about framing the role or is it more about what the role entails or looking at the different ways that volunteers can help your organization?

Lori
Well, I think it's all three. I think it's how you build it and asking the questions before you build the role. Is the role reflective of what's actually happening and or also, are we giving the volunteers the right information that they need to have the right training, the right support and retaining them? If you look at, for example, friendly volunteering, well, I don't see friendly volunteering going into people's homes going to be happening the way that they're going to happen.

But you're going to have to test and see if you decided to go back into the home and assuming obviously the client is open to it and the volunteer is open to it, but what needs to be put in place before that, like what kind of forms need to be filled out? What kind of training has to happen? So it is an opportunity for volunteers to provide some feedback as to what they think they need as well before they go into a home and or if they're doing virtual volunteering or what it is that they need to be looking for.

So I think it's a combination of everything, ensuring that the role is is actually reflective of what's happening. And also prior to the role as part of the role is like what are all those support systems that need to happen beforehand? And how are you going to do that when you are not bringing in volunteers and for training? There's a whole lot of things are going to change.

Sabrina
Yeah, you have to stay updated. And you mentioned a lot about virtual volunteers. Do you think that geography is still going to be a big role in how people choose their volunteers? Or do you encourage organizations to kind of open that up and seek for volunteers maybe all over the world and have them work virtually?

Lori
So my personal philosphy is go big or go home. I think that opened up a whole world of opportunity here. You know, there are things that come into play with regards to funding, local funding for local volunteers. So I think that there is some procedural issues with regards to breaking down geographical barriers. But I say absolutely. I mean, this virtual volunteering thing is not going to go away. I think it's going to grow because there's going to be a sense of, yeah, we're going to go back a little bit to where we were, but there's a chance we're going to have another variant and then there's a chance, something else.

I think we're at the beginning of something I hate to say it versus the end. So I say no geographical barriers. If we could do that and you can get your volunteers and you can get funding, what a creative way to do things like I just see so much opportunity there to bring volunteers from everywhere. And the fact is people are going to be working from home. People are not so quick to leave their homes anymore. So they still want to give back.

Like I mean, when when the pandemic started, the first thing that happened was we started getting volunteers to make phone calls, checking in, you know, how are you doing today? I got multiple phone calls from places I would connect with. That's fantastic. And we need to continue that process. So why do you have to be living in Toronto to do that? Why can't you be in Florida, New York, Australia and do it?

So, yeah, but the bigger you go, the more competition you have to. What a great opportunity for partnerships.

Sabrina
Yeah. And unlocks so much. And then you also have the change in time zones, which for some may be difficult, but it also offers an opportunity to cover times when your Toronto staff may be sleeping while your staff. It's still early into the evening, so maybe they can call people internationally. Yeah, it just it offers yes, challenges, but there's so much more you can do. And you have a different and diverse group of volunteers.

Lori
And I like that thinking. Yes. Challenges. I mean, still that I think that's the future is yes challenges. Yeah, we're going to have challenges. But, you know, so many volunteer programs were blown up during covered, so many volunteer coordinators lost their jobs, so many big programs. I'm almost, you know, in some ways I'm so upset with the field because volunteer programs and I'm not going to name names and large institutions.

We're completely blown up and volunteer coordinators, large programs with large numbers of volunteers, and they could not or wherever it came from, sustain that. To keep the volunteer program, so to me, that's really upsetting that there has been a lot of these large volunteer programs in hospital settings and stuff like that that have completely been, you know, like like had the wind taken out of its wing. So I'm hoping that that that that there'll be a fundamental shift there, that people will recognize that you have to build a program that your leadership and your board and your clients are willing to fight for and not be the first.

Department to get shut down. And that happened.

Sabrina
It's like, why would you not invest in the person who's finding pro bono help, like free help for your organization, you know, and it takes so much to run a volunteer program. I would love to hear what you feel are the necessary steps for every volunteer manager to take. You talked about good leadership. What does that look like in action?

Lori
Good leadership is somebody who is thinking in the present as well as the future. A volunteer management leader who engages many stakeholders is not sitting in the basement running a volunteer program on their own, focused on the numbers or the or the or just the day to day is a good leader, somebody who recognizes and is watching what is going on in the world and can be creative and come up with these great ideas and not just keep them to themselves, but actually engage leadership.

It has to be bottom up, top down. That doesn't change. You know, our natural inclination is to start from the top and works its way down. So you need to get to the top. A good leader is going to use technology in a way that works for them. And that can be as simple as ensuring that your website and your volunteer pages of your website are up to date, are current, are providing good content.

Whether that's volunteer training content, whether that's a fake news, whether that's, you know, ways to support volunteers, a good leader is somebody who can build a sustainable foundation but still allow that second layer of virtual programming or something unique, you know, and somebody who's going to communicate and going to ask. It has to be that 360 kind of thinking at this point.

Sabrina
Mm-hmm. Yeah, you have to think about everything. And it can be overwhelming, especially, you know, when you're in a place of leadership. And I think at the beginning of covid, especially because you didn't know anything that was going on, like it was completely new. But now as things calm down, we can make more educated decisions. And it is important that we involve technology in those decisions for sure.

Lori
And you know, the key that the big word, you know, the word for 2020 was pivot. Remember it used to be tipping point. Now it's pivot, right? So you actually have permission to try things. And, you know, the one thing with volunteer programs is they don't cost a lot. But unless we use our voices and that's been me like right to the beginning of time, you've got to be loud and talk to the right people at the right time and don't waste opportunities.

You know, if you're sitting if you're in the if you ever go back to the office and you're in the lunchroom with your CEO, take advantage of that time. You know what I mean? That's what a leader does. A leader is constantly it's like a shark. It's constantly moving. If it does not move, it dies.

Sabrina
Speaking of using technology to its fullest potential, you are a partner in volunteer success, which is an incredible resource for volunteers, for organizations. And it's just a hub of all the expertise that you guys have accumulated through the years. Can you talk more about it? Why was it created? What was the thought process around it?

Lori
So, I mean, I'm part of a team and came in to help consult on this. So volunteer success is online. There are two layers to it. It's an online community hub to match, to connect organizations, to volunteers. And it really is for the community by the community that the thought came from a community thought leader who's been doing tons of volunteer work in the community for years and just felt that we need to give the community an opportunity to work together.

And it's a way to give back. So there's like two layers with it. So the actual volunteer success dot com matching site is going to be launching in the fall. But as a prelaunch, we built in a resource, a learning center for not just volunteer, you know, those in the field of volunteer management, but also for volunteers and not for profits and thought leaders and fundraisers and like whatever connect not profit, not for profit together, or provides an opportunity for anybody to learn in certain areas.

So the resource, a learning center is up and running and that's going to build into education and webinars and chats and ways to connect to the community. And the volunteer success matching site is an opportunity for volunteers to put in their profiles, talk about themselves in a secure, centralized hub, and look at opportunities that organizations have posted, as well as for organizations to put in their profiles, highlight their organizations and look at potential volunteers and connect with them directly.

So it's a bit it's the matchmaking process, you know, whether it's Match.com or indeed or whatever it is. So it's an opportunity for organizations and for volunteers to really connect in a meaningful way. There's no cost to it. It's going to be simple and easy. You can personalize everything. It's going to be innovative and iterative. So, you know, when I know you're going to ask what's the difference in this organization and the other ones that are there?

In some ways, there are some similarities, but we are looking our first thinking is this is the priority. This is what we're doing. And it's going to be iterative. We are going to listen to our stakeholders. And if they want something, we're going to give it to them. And if they want some changes, we're going to make changes and we're going to make the matching process easy. And there are no geographical barriers to this. So as you went back into that, our prior conversation about geography, no geographical barriers.

It can go around the world if we need to. But even funny, with the Resource and Learning Center, which  I've been leading, is when I went for the call to action for people just to provide content, including yourself. Thank you. I got content from Europe. I got content from the U.S. so it naturally happened. You know, I don't look at geographical barriers and therefore volunteer successes looking to be fun and adventurous and provide meaningful connections between organizations and volunteers and like-minded industries.

So, we're looking at costs are going to be looking at ways to update things. And on the resource and learning side, we're going to be doing weekly blogs. We're going to do educational material. We're going to build webinars. We're going to have the standard external links and stuff like that. But look at what our consumers want, the stakeholders want in the community and what we can. Provide and for some organizations, they don't have volunteer coordinators, they don't have a process to put this in place.

So if you look at a small organization or you know, like the sports, which are all volunteer-driven, you know, all the sports clubs and stuff like that, here is a hub for them to post their positions that they would normally not have access to post and where volunteers can look and get engaged and vice versa. So I think it's going to open up because we're not looking at particular sectors. We're looking at all sectors. Hmm.

Sabrina
And the Resource Center does a perfect job and like doing that. Exactly, because I was going through the content on there. And yes, there's so much rich volunteer content. But Rob Jackson wrote an article on how to adapt to failure and resilience. And I was like, this is a perfect article that applies to volunteers, to leaders, to nonprofit employees. So it really is just like a safe space for anyone in the industry to come, to learn to grow and to better their programs.

Lori
Yeah, yeah. And I'm and I encourage that, like anybody who wants to even build content, like add content or provide content, I'm not looking at well it has to be voluntary management. It's something that if it's going to add value to any leader or somebody who wants to grow or hold on a volunteer. So we're not just you know, other sites are all about volunteer management. We're looking also the volunteer volunteers. I wrote an article about what questions should volunteers be asking before they go out looking for volunteer work.

So we're looking for the voice of the volunteer, the voice of the organization, the voice of thought leaders, and then everything in between, you know, whether it's social media experts, whether it's marketing experts, whether it's health experts, there's opportunity there, we're going to post it. And the same thing with the volunteer success matching side, it's about connecting communities. We're not specifically saying we're only looking at hospitals. We're only looking at food banks.

We're looking at everybody, including the mom and pop shops in these small little under-valued, under-supported organizations that are in the community.

Sabrina
Definitely a thousand percent. This is a great resource to learn from. But I'd love to hear from your experience as a volunteer management guru. What needs to happen in order for a volunteer program to be sustainable to, you know, last through challenges like covid and also keep their volunteers happy?

Lori
Wow, that's like the million-dollar question, sustainability. You know, again, sustainability to me equals change, growth, creativity and risk management, and I think it's the combination of all these that allows a volunteer program to be sustainable. I think we've talked a little bit about things. As I said, sustainability is your ability to respond to the needs of both your or your community, because at the end of the day, that's what we're looking for, but also provide a safe and healthy environment for volunteers to grow in the right as they go through their stages as well.

And so to me, there's a balance of that. When you're building a sustainability program, what does that mean? That's a lot of verbiage. Again, websites up running and, you know. Providing good content, you know, ability to provide answers to questions of volunteers may want before they get on board, sustainability number two is policies and procedures and processes that are clean and that are responsive to what's going on.

We now all have to look at our policies, our procedures, our training, our recognition, everything with the covid lens on it, because it's not going away immediately, which then goes into to be sustainable, you have to have like the one year plan, but you kind of think three years, five years and grow to that. Finally, to be really strong, you need to listen to your stakeholders, you got to be able to to to be flexible enough to move, but to be strong enough and and and seen as an expert in your field.

To be respected internally and externally, and that's a tough one to do.

Sabrina
Yeah, it's like finding that balance of accepting new ideas, but understanding when you have to turn some ideas down.

Lori
Exactly. And own it.  You know what I mean? Like, own it. Like, you know what you're doing. You're the expert in the field. Like, I mean, when I was teaching at Humber and, with my students, you kind of own it, come up with the ideas and don't waffle on the ideas. You know, in any other field, the only way to grow is to take risks and come up with great ideas.

And I think that's the same thing with volunteer programs. The issue with the volunteer programs is they've taken a big hit. And so, again, I think you use the word as positive challenges. I think this is a great opportunity to start to think that through your plan, you know, and rebuild or change what the volunteer program looks like. So to me, that's going to allow you to be sustainable. But, you know, and evaluate like talk the talk, have those conversations, talk about the value of volunteering and not just talking about the numbers, but I'm talking about those soft things.

You know, the impact of having a phone call from my local religious institution, you know, once a month was so nice. It really was nice, you know, just doing a quick check. And, boy, was that warm feeling and we all needed that. So to me, that that is something that allowed this organization to be sustainable was to do that shift and grab their membership and start calling instead of just sitting around and doing nothing and waiting this out.

So that to me, is a key aspect of a sustainable program, is that ability to have a strong foundation but also be able to grow and move?

Sabrina
Yeah, stay active for sure.

Lori
Stay active. Yeah.

Sabrina
So lastly, before we go today, can you let our listeners know how they can learn more about volunteer success and any opportunities they can take advantage of on that site?

Lori
Absolutely, so if they go to voluntary success dot com, we'll talk about two sides, so the Resource and Learning Center at Voluntary Success Dotcom Learning Center and in that site, if you want to contribute content, just do the application form. It goes immediately to myself and we can start the process or there's an email there and you can email for the volunteers success dot com, which is the match that the larger platform that we're launching in the fall. There is a join now.

So you will be the first person to get access once we get going. Read what, how, how it's going to look. We are going to be starting a newsletter to keep people connected. So right now, it's not live yet. By the time this is well, by the time this launch is in August, we may be very close, but take a look at the site and join so that you're the first person as soon as we go to launch or email us if you want to talk to us.

So we do have, you know, information, info at volunteer success dot com, and we'll be happy to reach out and talk about more. And we are going to be reaching out to organizations as we launch. Because we need content, we need the role positions, we need those things, you know, we can't do this if organizations are not going to provide us with the job postings and we're not going to be able to do this if volunteers don't sign up.

So on the volunteer side, sign up, you know, to create your profile.

Sabrina
Mm-hmm. And for those listening, I will include all the links Laurie discussed in the description box. You can just go there, click. It's really easy to submit content, so I encourage you to do so.

Lori
Yeah. And even volunteers, people who want to talk about their experiences, if you want to write about it- I had one group in Australia that wrote a blog about their experiences as volunteers. That's fantastic.

Sabrina
That's amazing. Well, thank you so much, Lori, again for coming on the show. It's always a pleasure.

Lori
It's always a pleasure.

Sabrina
And that is all I was. Lori mentioned volunteer success. Dotcom is the place to go. If you want to learn how to submit content, if you want to get notified when the matchmaking feature goes live, or if you just want to check out volunteer success and I highly recommend you do, it really is a great resource. You could tell a lot of love and thought went into this website and can do amazing things for the industry. And if you want to stay updated on driven and everything Fundraising Superheroes guess what?

We have a monthly newsletter now. That is right. We are delivering content straight to your inbox. You don't have to go searching. You'll get caught up on all these episodes of the podcast, get any blog posts. And also sometimes you like to sprinkle some insider tips in there. So make sure if you're interested in improving your non-profit, supercharging your fundraising and getting the most out of your organization that you sign up. Like I said, I'd like to do so is on trust, but I'll also have a link available for you in the description box.

As always, thank you so much for listening. And we'll see you next time on Fundraising Superheroes.


 

 

So we're looking for the voice of the volunteer, the voice of the organization, the voice of thought leaders, and then everything in between, you know, whether it's social media experts, whether it's marketing experts, whether it's health experts, if it if if there's opportunity there, we're going to post it. And the same thing with the volunteer success matching side, it's about connecting communities. We're not specifically saying we're only looking at hospitals. We're only looking at food banks.

 

 

We're looking at everybody, including the mom and pop shops in these small little under-valued, under-supported organizations that are in the community.

 

Sabrina

Definitely a thousand percent. This is a great resource to learn from. But I'd love to hear from your experience as a volunteer management guru. What needs to happen in order for a volunteer program to be sustainable to, you know, last through challenges like covid and also keep their volunteers happy?

 

Lori

Wow, that's like the million dollar question, sustainability. You know, again, sustainability to me equals change, growth, creativity and risk management, and I think it's the combination of all these that allows a volunteer program to be sustainable. I think we've talked a little bit about things. Like I said, sustainability is your ability to respond to the needs of both your or your community, because at the end of the day, that's what we're looking for, but also provide a safe and healthy environment for volunteers to grow in the right as they go through their stages as well.

 

 

And so to me, there's a balance of that. When you're building a sustainability program, what does that mean? That's a lot of verbiage. Again, websites up running and, you know. Providing good content, you know, ability to provide answers to questions of volunteers may want before they get on board, sustainability number two is policies and procedures and processes that are clean and that are responsive to what's going on.

 

 

We now all have to look at our policies, our procedures, our training, our recognition, everything with the covid lens on it, because it's not going away immediately, which then goes into to be sustainable, you have to have like the one year plan, but you kind of think three years, five years and grow to that. Finally, to be really strong, you need to listen to your stakeholders, you got to be able to to to be flexible enough to move, but to be strong enough and and and seen as a expert in your field.

 

 

To be respected internally and externally, and that's a tough one to do.

 

Sabrina

Yeah, it's like finding that balance of accepting new ideas, but understanding when you have to turn some ideas down.

 

Lori

Exactly. And own it.  You know what I mean? Like, own it. Like, you know what you're doing. You're the expert in the field. Like, I mean, when I was teaching at Humber and, with my students, you kind of own it, come up with the ideas and don't waffle on the ideas. You know, in any other field, the only way to grow is to take risks and come up with great ideas.

 

 

And I think that's the same thing with volunteer programs. The issue with the volunteer programs is they've taken a big hit. And so, again, I think you use the word as positive challenges. I think this is a great opportunity to start to think that through your plan, you know, and rebuild or change what the volunteer program looks like. So to me, that's going to allow you to be sustainable. But, you know, and evaluate like talk the talk, have those conversations, talk about the value of volunteering and not just talking about the numbers, but I'm talking about those soft things.

 

 

You know, the impact of having a phone call from my local religious institution, you know, once a month was so nice. It really was nice, you know, just doing a quick check. And, boy, was that warm feeling and we all needed that. So to me, that that is something that allowed this organization to to be sustainable was to do that shift and grab their membership and start calling instead of just sitting around and doing nothing and waiting this out.

 

 

So that to me, is a key aspect of a sustainable program, is that ability to have a strong foundation but also be able to grow and move?

 

Sabrina

Yeah, stay active for sure.

 

Lori

Stay active. Yeah.

 

Sabrina

So lastly, before we go today, can you let our listeners know how they can learn more about volunteer success and any opportunities they can take advantage of on that site?

 

Lori

Absolutely, so if they go to voluntary success dot com, we'll talk about two sides, so the Resource and Learning Center at Voluntary Success Dotcom Learning Center and in that site, if you want to contribute content, just do the application form. It goes immediately to myself and we can start the process or there's an email there and you can email for the volunteers success dot com, which is the match that the larger platform that we're launching in the fall. There is a join now.

 

 

So you will be the first person to get access once we get going. Read what, how, how it's going to look. We are going to be starting a newsletter to keep people connected. So right now, it's not live yet. By the time this is well, by the time this launch is in August, we may be very close, but take a look at the site and and join so that you're the first person as soon as we go to launch or email us if you want to talk to us.

 

 

So we do have, you know, information, info at volunteer success dot com, and we'll be happy to reach out and talk about more. And we are going to be reaching out to organizations as we as we launch. Because we need content, we need the role positions, we need those things, you know, we can't do this if organizations are not going to provide us with the job postings and we're not going to be able to do this if volunteers don't sign up.

 

 

So on the volunteer side, sign up, you know, to create your profile.

 

Sabrina

Mm hmm. And for those listening, I will include all the links Laurie discussed in the description box. You can just go there, click. It's really easy to submit content, so I encourage you to do so.

 

Lori

Yeah. And even volunteers, people who want to talk about their experiences, if you want to write about it- I had one one group in Australia that wrote a blog about their experiences as volunteers. That's fantastic.

 

Sabrina

That's amazing. Well, thank you so much, Lori, again for coming on the show. It's always a pleasure.

 

Lori

It's always a pleasure.

 

Sabrina

And that is all I was. Lori mentioned volunteer success. Dotcom is the place to go. If you want to learn how to submit content, if you want to get notified when the matchmaking feature goes live, or if you just want to check out volunteer success and I highly recommend you do, it really is a great resource. You could tell a lot of love and thought went into this website and can do amazing things for the industry. And if you want to stay updated on driven and everything Fundraising Superheroes guess what?

 

 

We have a monthly newsletter now. That is right. We are delivering content straight to your inbox. You don't have to go searching. You'll get caught up on all these episodes of the podcast, get any blog posts. And also sometimes you like to sprinkle some insider tips in there. So make sure if you're interested in improving your non-profit, supercharging your fundraising and getting the most out of your organization that you sign up. Like I said, I'd like to do so is on trust, but I'll also have a link available for you in the description box.


So, I mean, I'm part of a team and came in to help consult on this. So volunteer success is online. There are two layers to it. It's an online community hub to match, to connect organizations, to volunteers. And it really is for the community by the community that the thought came from a community thought leader who's been doing tons of volunteer work in the community for years and just felt that we need to give the community an opportunity to work together.

And it's a way to give back. So there are like two layers with it. So the actual volunteer success dot com matching site is going to be launching in the fall. But as a prelaunch, we built in a resource, a learning center for not just volunteer, you know, those in the field of volunteer management, but also for volunteers and not for profits and thought leaders and fundraisers and like whatever connect not profit, not for profit together, or provides an opportunity for anybody to learn in certain areas.

So the resource, a learning center is up and running and that's going to build into education and webinars and chats and ways to connect to the community. And the volunteer success matching site is an opportunity for volunteers to put in their profiles, talk about themselves in a secure, centralized hub, and look at opportunities that organizations have posted, as well as for organizations to put in their profiles, highlight their organizations and look at potential volunteers and connect with them directly.

So it's a bit it's the matchmaking process, you know, whether it's Match.com or indeed or whatever it is. So it's an opportunity for organizations and for volunteers to really connect in a meaningful way. There's no cost to it. It's going to be simple and easy. You can personalize everything. It's going to be innovative and iterative. So, you know, when I know you're going to ask what's the difference in this organization and the other ones that are there?

In some ways there are some similarities, but we are looking our first thinking is this is the priority. This is what we're doing. And it's going to be iterative. We are going to listen to our stakeholders. And if they want something, we're going to give it to them. And if they want some changes, we're going to make changes and we're going to make the matching process easy. And there's no geographical barriers for this. So as you went back into that, our prior conversation about geography, no geographical barriers.

It can go around the world if we need to. But even funny, with the Resource and Learning Center, which  I've been leading, is when I went for the call to action for people just to provide content, including yourself. Thank you. I got content from Europe. I got content from the U.S. so it naturally happened. You know, I don't look at geographical barriers and therefore volunteer successes looking to be fun and adventurous and provide meaningful connections between organizations and volunteers and like-minded industries.

So, we're looking at costs are going to be looking at ways to update things. And on the resource and learning side, we're going to be doing weekly blogs. We're going to do educational material. We're going to build webinars. We're going to have the standard external links and stuff like that. But look at what our consumers want, the stakeholders want in the community and what we can. Provide and for some organizations, they don't have volunteer coordinators, they don't have a process to put this in place.

So if you look at a small organization or you know, like the sports, which are all volunteer-driven, you know, all the sports clubs and stuff like that, here is a hub for them to post their positions that they would normally not have access to post and where volunteers can look and get engaged and vice versa. So I think it's going to open up because we're not looking at particular sectors. We're looking at all sectors. Hmm.

Sabrina
And the Resource Center does a perfect job and like doing that. Exactly, because I was going through the content on there. And yes, there's so much rich volunteer content. But Rob Jackson wrote an article on how to adapt to failure and resilience. And I was like, this is a perfect article that applies to volunteers, to leaders, to nonprofit employees. So it really is just like a safe space for anyone in the industry to come, to learn to grow and to better their programs.

Lori
Yeah, yeah. And I'm and I encourage that, like anybody who wants to even build content, like add content or provide content, I'm not looking at well it has to be voluntary management. It's something that if it's going to add value to any leader or somebody who wants to grow or hold on a volunteer. So we're not just you know, other sites are all about volunteer management. We're looking also the volunteer volunteers. I wrote an article about what questions should volunteers be asking before they go out looking for volunteer work.

So we're looking for the voice of the volunteer, the voice of the organization, the voice of thought leaders, and then everything in between, you know, whether it's social media experts, whether it's marketing experts, whether it's health experts, there's opportunity there, we're going to post it. And the same thing with the volunteer success matching side, it's about connecting communities. We're not specifically saying we're only looking at hospitals. We're only looking at food banks.

We're looking at everybody, including the mom and pop shops in these small little under-valued, under-supported organizations that are in the community.

Sabrina
Definitely a thousand percent. This is a great resource to learn from. But I'd love to hear from your experience as a volunteer management guru. What needs to happen in order for a volunteer program to be sustainable to, you know, last through challenges like covid and also keep their volunteers happy?

Lori
Wow, that's like the million-dollar question, sustainability. You know, again, sustainability to me equals change, growth, creativity and risk management, and I think it's the combination of all these that allows a volunteer program to be sustainable. I think we've talked a little bit about things. Like I said, sustainability is your ability to respond to the needs of both your or your community, because at the end of the day, that's what we're looking for, but also provide a safe and healthy environment for volunteers to grow in the right as they go through their stages as well.

And so to me, there's a balance of that. When you're building a sustainability program, what does that mean? That's a lot of verbiage. Again, websites up running and, you know. Providing good content, you know, ability to provide answers to questions of volunteers may want before they get on board, sustainability number two is policies and procedures and processes that are clean and that are responsive to what's going on.

We now all have to look at our policies, our procedures, our training, our recognition, everything with the covid lens on it, because it's not going away immediately, which then goes into to be sustainable, you have to have like the one year plan, but you kind of think three years, five years and grow to that. Finally, to be really strong, you need to listen to your stakeholders, you got to be able to to to be flexible enough to move, but to be strong enough and and and seen as an expert in your field.

To be respected internally and externally, and that's a tough one to do.

Sabrina
Yeah, it's like finding that balance of accepting new ideas, but understanding when you have to turn some ideas down.

Lori
Exactly. And own it.  You know what I mean? Like, own it. Like, you know what you're doing. You're the expert in the field. Like, I mean, when I was teaching at Humber and, with my students, you kind of own it, come up with the ideas and don't waffle on the ideas. You know, in any other field, the only way to grow is to take risks and come up with great ideas.

And I think that's the same thing with volunteer programs. The issue with the volunteer programs is they've taken a big hit. And so, again, I think you use the word as positive challenges. I think this is a great opportunity to start to think that through your plan, you know, and rebuild or change what the volunteer program looks like. So to me, that's going to allow you to be sustainable. But, you know, and evaluate like talk the talk, have those conversations, talk about the value of volunteering and not just talking about the numbers, but I'm talking about those soft things.

You know, the impact of having a phone call from my local religious institution, you know, once a month was so nice. It really was nice, you know, just doing a quick check. And, boy, was that warm feeling and we all needed that. So to me, that that is something that allowed this organization to be sustainable was to do that shift and grab their membership and start calling instead of just sitting around and doing nothing and waiting this out.

So that to me, is a key aspect of a sustainable program, is that ability to have a strong foundation but also be able to grow and move?

Sabrina
Yeah, stay active for sure.

Lori
Stay active. Yeah.

Sabrina
So lastly, before we go today, can you let our listeners know how they can learn more about volunteer success and any opportunities they can take advantage of on that site?

Lori
Absolutely, so if they go to voluntary success dot com, we'll talk about two sides, so the Resource and Learning Center at Voluntary Success Dotcom Learning Center and in that site, if you want to contribute content, just do the application form. It goes immediately to myself and we can start the process or there's an email there and you can email for the volunteers success dot com, which is the match that the larger platform that we're launching in the fall. There is a join now.

So you will be the first person to get access once we get going. Read what, how, how it's going to look. We are going to be starting a newsletter to keep people connected. So right now, it's not live yet. By the time this is well, by the time this launch is in August, we may be very close, but take a look at the site and join so that you're the first person as soon as we go to launch or email us if you want to talk to us.

So we do have, you know, information, info at volunteer success dot com, and we'll be happy to reach out and talk about more. And we are going to be reaching out to organizations as we launch. Because we need content, we need the role positions, we need those things, you know, we can't do this if organizations are not going to provide us with the job postings and we're not going to be able to do this if volunteers don't sign up.

So on the volunteer side, sign up, you know, to create your profile.

Sabrina
Mm-hmm. And for those listening, I will include all the links Laurie discussed in the description box. You can just go there, click. It's really easy to submit content, so I encourage you to do so.

Lori
Yeah. And even volunteers, people who want to talk about their experiences, if you want to write about it- I had one group in Australia that wrote a blog about their experiences as volunteers. That's fantastic.

Sabrina
That's amazing. Well, thank you so much, Lori, again for coming on the show. It's always a pleasure.

Lori
It's always a pleasure.

Sabrina
And that is all I was. Lori mentioned volunteer success. Dotcom is the place to go. If you want to learn how to submit content, if you want to get notified when the matchmaking feature goes live, or if you just want to check out volunteer success and I highly recommend you do, it really is a great resource. You could tell a lot of love and thought went into this website and can do amazing things for the industry. And if you want to stay updated on driven and everything Fundraising Superheroes guess what?

We have a monthly newsletter now. That is right. We are delivering content straight to your inbox. You don't have to go searching. You'll get caught up on all these episodes of the podcast, get any blog posts. And also sometimes you like to sprinkle some insider tips in there. So make sure if you're interested in improving your non-profit, supercharging your fundraising and getting the most out of your organization that you sign up. Like I said, I'd like to do so is on trust, but I'll also have a link available for you in the description box.

As always, thank you so much for listening. And we'll see you next time on Fundraising Superheroes.

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Podcast Aug 25, 2021, 12:00 AM

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