Approximately 6 years ago the MS Society South Vancouver Island Chapter started to look at what was happening with our event volunteers. We had people coming out and volunteering for our events yet we didn’t have consistency, the sell was hard, people came and went, there was no relationship or deep connection and the recruitment of volunteers was really taking place as an afterthought. This system was not giving us the results we wanted for our events or for the volunteers that were coming out.
As we started to redefine and create a program specifically for our event volunteers we looked at everything. From position descriptions for the volunteers to what experience do we want them to have, to what motivates them to come out and help our organization. We started building relationships with our volunteers that were meaningful to them and to us and we started to see results. We looked at our volunteers differently and in return they gave more to our organization.
During this transition we had to really take a look at trends, research, and other organizations to see what they were doing and how they were doing things. This can become very overwhelming and can take a lot of work. Thankfully though the first organization that we became a part of was Volunteer Victoria. By becoming a member agency it opened up a wealth of resources and knowledge and gave us a huge support system.
Having stats, and information about trends around volunteerism was crucial to our evolution however it is/was the professional development that Volunteer Victoria provided to our Volunteer Resource Coordinator that truly allowed us to take our program to another level. We now have a staff person who has been able to learn and develop the necessary skills to develop and maintain a very successful volunteer program. The high level of professional development that is offered to the member agencies has created a profession that has standards and accountability measures just like other professional careers.
What does this all really mean? Now that we have a staff person who is capable of delivering a very effective volunteer program, our organization has a better chance of recruiting, cultivating and recognizing the amazing volunteers that make our organization work. We, as an organization, can function at a high capacity and focus on our mission. This means that the volunteers who come through the doors have the best experience we can possibly give them and these people go back into the community feeling good and contributing to other organizations. The gift of making a volunteer coordinator really does keep on giving.
Without the support, guidance, knowledge & wisdom of Volunteer Victoria we would still have a volunteer program(or something of that nature) yet we would not have the professionalism and expertise that makes a difference for our volunteers and therefore to people living with MS.
Volunteer Victoria has helped to create a profession for Volunteer Coordinators in many organizations, a profession that is gaining more and more profile each and every time they offer a professional development piece for member agencies.