”Until someone invents the instant volunteer (just add water, microwave for two minutes, then stir!), involving volunteers takes time. You’ve got to develop the right roles, identify the target audience, create engaging recruitment materials, go out and find people, interview them, select them, induct them, train them and support them. And you won’t get them to make a regular, long-term commitment on day one.” says Rob Jackson, a leader in the field of volunteerism who has been invited by Volunteering Canterbury to speak in Christchurch to a group of managers of volunteers.
“Volunteering is not exempt from the constant change that is going on all around us”, Glenda Martin, Outreach and Marketing Manager at Volunteering Canterbury, says “so it’s great to have someone of Rob’s calibre join us, to share what he is seeing happening globally and share some tips on how to keep pace with some of those changes.”
Trends already being seen by Volunteering Canterbury include volunteers who wish to give specific skills. “There is so much competition for each person’s time – family, work, just life!” says Glenda, “and so often we find that someone makes a decision to gift x hours of time and also is very specific about how they might spend that time”. This has resulted in a pilot ‘SkillsMatch’ programme being added to Volunteering Canterbury’s services on offer. There is also a tendency towards volunteers being available for shorter period of time – again, a reflection of busy lifestyles.
While once volunteering was seen as the domain of elderly, predominantly female, members of the community, this is no longer the case. While the ‘average’ volunteer statistically speaking in Canterbury is a 37 year old woman, there is a growing trend amongst the younger age bracket (18-25 years) to volunteer. Gaining life skills and enhancing CVs are positive spin-offs for the volunteer; the challenge for the organisations engaging volunteers is to look at adapting the methods they use for recruitment and ongoing training to reach this age bracket and embracing technology available.
Rob Jackson will be addressing issues like these in his first workshop, ‘Understanding and Engaging 21st century volunteers’. The second workshop will look at how best we can measure volunteering. “Measuring hours and numbers of volunteers supplies valuable information”, Glenda says. “It’s the impact that those numbers and hours make, however, that is of real value – take for example, a conservation project which may involve hundreds of planting hours on one day in 2017, with an impact on that day of lots of fun, community interaction and new connections made. And then later, decades later often, with the growth of those plants, the impact on both the environment and those who enjoy that environment.”
The workshops being held on Friday 24th November are set to inspire and inform those at the front line of volunteer management in organisations making a difference. “We’re here to help people make a difference”, Glenda says – “be it individuals or organisations which engage volunteers, or businesses looking for a good fit for their social responsibility policy and team wellbeing.” Workshop participants will enjoy lunch from ‘Fill their Lunchbox’, a local organisation donating two healthy lunches to children in Canterbury’s low decile schools for every one lunch purchased.
For more information about this event or volunteering in Canterbury, contact Glenda Martin, Outreach and Marketing Manager, Volunteering Canterbury, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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