Volunteer Management BLOG

Your source for tips, techniques and articles to improve your Volunteer Program.

Advanced Volunteer Management: Chopping Our Way Out of the Box

by Stacy Ashton | Nov 28, 2014

Sometimes when you've been working in your field for a while, you forget that you actually know a lot.  It takes skilled facilitators and peers like Carol Dixon and Charlene Dishaw to remind you.  Carol also wants me to remind you, “If you steal our workshop idea, we will hunt you down and eat you for dinner.”


In “Chopped” experienced chefs turn baskets of mystery ingredients into three-course meals, and compete based on taste, presentation and creativity.


Today we were “Chopped: Volunteer Management Edition”.  In keeping with the culinary theme, we warmed up by inventing brand new fruits.  I took a picture:



In every case the fruit we invented was highly practical:  delicious, nutritious, easy to grow, low or no mess.  Together they would make the ideal Volunteer Recognition fruit basket.


Once we had our juices flowing (disclaimer: If you hate puns, stop reading now), we divided into four competing teams, with the task to “cook up” a Volunteer Program from scratch.  We got a brand-new organization with no existing volunteer program, a box full of “ingredients” to use as we pleased, and and two hours --- oops, bad math, Charlene and Carol meant to say 30 minutes!! 


It’s a good thing Managers of Volunteers are used whipping up amazing things short timelines that often and without notice get shorter!


Each team ended up with its own unique approach to applying the key tools and concerns of volunteer management.  We blended program strategy, planning, screening, policy development, position development, recognition, staff/volunteer relations, community relations into masterpieces of Volunteer Programming, but there was a great diversity in what we created and how we created it.


Team Pot (my team) laid it down diorama-style.



Another team used a mock Volunteer Orientation session to explain the program they’d developed.  Another team flip-charted their program, and another created an entire PowerPoint presentation on the spot!




I’d tell you more about the actual Volunteer Programs we developed, but Carol and Charlene will be running this workshop again and I don’t want anyone to have an unfair advantage in the competition.


Suffice to say, the Volunteer Programs we created were delicious, well-seasoned, and covered all the food groups.  Not even a little half-baked.  And no one got burned.


And at the end of the session, Carol and Charlene did pick a winning team.  You might notice that not one, but TWO Community Volunteer Connections’ staff are on the winning team.  Not that I’m bragging or anything.


Winners!  Lynn (CVC), Hayley (Seniors Services Society), Joanne (CVC) and Jessica (City of Coquitlam)


If you missed on this workshop, don’t miss out on the next!  Coming up in January, Garland Coulson (Captain Time) will be telling us how to “Work Smarter, Not Harder” with our volunteers.  And in February we’ll be unlocking more of your wisdom and experience in our “Volunteer Learning Exchange”.


Find out more here!



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