Overview of Volunteer Management Course: A Participant’s Experience

Today I’d like to welcome Yasmin Rampuri from the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria who has written the following guest blog post for us about her experiences taking our recent Overview of Volunteer Management certificate course.  Congratulations to all 23 of our 2009 course graduates! 

Over four Saturdays in October and November I had the great pleasure of attending Volunteer Victoria’s excellent Overview of Volunteer Management Course.  The course was facilitated by two engaging and very experienced leaders in the Volunteer Management field, Diane Kirby and Theresa Vogel.  Each of them led two of the Saturdays, and brought their different styles to bear on the information presented. 
Topics covered included: planning and designing a volunteer program; recruitment and retention of volunteers; dealing with difficult situations in volunteer management; evaluation of volunteer programs and the place of volunteers within an organization; and innovative ways of recognizing volunteers. 
There was some homework, but it was all very applicable to our actual work as volunteer coordinators and many of us were able to use this effort to great benefit in our offices.  The considered feedback of our facilitators gave us the ability to improve our outputs in a way we would not get if we had just done these projects at work since many of us are the only ones who do what we do where we work.  We also worked on case studies garnered from real life examples of the class participants, carefully made anonymous, and this proved to be very helpful in providing solutions to some challenges we’ve faced, or may face in the future.
Meeting the other participants was also a very positive offshoot of attending the course.  It presented a great networking opportunity and was also a fantastic way of getting to know about many other organizations who work with volunteers in Greater Victoria, and what a difference these organizations make in the community.  We also had chances to do commercials for both personal and professional events.
At the conclusion of the course, a graduation ceremony was held, and certificates were presented to all the members of the Class of 2009.  Both Diane and Theresa were in attendance as well as Beth Cougler Blom of Volunteer Victoria and Nancy Martens of VIHA in their roles as the South Island co-reps of the Administrators of Volunteer Resources BC.  We all had the chance to “give ourselves a clap!”.  I would highly recommend this course to anyone who works with volunteers!

2009 Overview of Volunteer Management course graduates

2009 Overview of Volunteer Management course graduates, along with facilitators Theresa Vogel and Diane Kirby

Setting our Boundaries

The other day we held a workshop for individuals taking part in our Social Solutions project, which supports coordinators of volunteers at non-profit agencies that work in the areas of homelessness, housing, mental health and addictions.  The workshop was about resetting boundaries and was led by talented facilitator Dvora Levin.

Who among us couldn’t use a reminder to set (or defend) our boundaries now and then?  The workshop came at a very fortuitous time for some participants in particular, but in fact all of us were able to come up with areas of either our personal or professional lives where we could reestablish or reset boundaries. 

But how are we to do it?  Some people are great at setting boundaries and then ‘cave’ when it comes to defending them.  Others aren’t sure how to set boundaries at all, or have many reasons why setting a boundary won’t work in their particular instance.  Levin suggests finding a friend or  colleague to help us reaffirm the boundaries we have created, whether it’s making sure that we take our daily lunch break or sticking to office hours that we have created for drop-in visits from clients or volunteers.  Essentially, we all need to be constantly vigilant about the boundaries that we have created for ourselves at home or work.  You’ve heard the expression, “The only constant is change”?  In this case the only thing we know for sure is that the boundaries we set for ourselves will be tested again and again. 

So, consider this your reminder to take some time to think about the boundaries you may need to reestablish.  It could be that you need to relax your standards, delegate more work, or make sure you leave the office at the end of your shift each day.  Maybe you need to set aside time for goal-setting or reflective thought, or actually attend that yoga class that you keep scheduling into your calendar and missing when it’s time to go.  “This thing about ‘we are indispensable’ is what traps us,” Levin says.  Often we think that no one else can do things as well as we can.  But perhaps we “helpers” just need a little excuse to help ourselves, or lean on someone else for a change.  So take this opportunity to consider:  what will you do to reset your boundaries this week?

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