Monthly Archives: December 2013

Carrie Bradshaw does Volunteer Management

There has been a lot of media on volunteering , helping others, giving back and being part of the community over the past couple of months. This is great and as I have mentioned in previous blogs we need to keep this dialogue going throughout the year, not just during the holiday season. The more we talk about volunteering, and all the benefits involved, the higher the profile becomes. That being said, there is an area that does not get a lot of press, and that is the dedicated and talented administrators of volunteers that build these programs. Volunteerism does not happen on its own. There needs to be a leader that drives the activities. Someone needs to make sure that positions are appropriate, that all risk has been assessed, that it is marketed to the right people, that the appropriate screening, orientation and training is done and especially that there is a recognition program in place. Many organizations have dedicated staff to lead these activities but there are still organizations that don’t, and even further there are organizations that have staff with dual roles that do volunteer management off the side of their desk.

if we want to raise the profile of volunteerism and volunteer management, we need to have staff with volunteer management experience and education to not just coordinate or manage volunteer programs but also lead change, be at the table during strategic planning. These leaders need to have advocate for volunteerism so that volunteers are part of the planning and there is a proactive approach to engagement vs a response to gaps in resources.

What does this mean…..well first

Administrators of volunteers need to have the resources and budget to manage a program

Administrators need to keep up with education and workshops and research to assess the changing environments

Senior leadership needs to engage the expertise of these leaders in planning

Build a mentorship or coaching program for your staff

Review the Canadian Code of Volunteer Involvement, to see where your gaps are and make a plan to fill them

Volunteerism should be weaved into  the strategic plans

if you are not sure about the effectiveness of your volunteer program….maybe it is worth taking a step back and assessing the program to see where there are opportunities and obstacles.

It always surprises me that a program that has huge impact and feeds the bottom line is the program that is kept in the back room. Some of these ideas are challenging but I encourage you to take the challenge and push the envelope of volunteer management. The results will be worth the work, satisfied and engaged staff and volunteers who are making a measurable impact and that will give you a huge return on investment.

if you need any advice….feel free to reach out here or at





Even Oprah Knows That Volunteering is Good For Your Health

In the December 2013 Oprah magazine there is an article about volunteering and feeling good.

This article is called The Do-Gooder’s Guide to Better Health. How helping others help you.

Based on a review of 40 international studies it been suggested that volunteering can add years to your life and some evidence is stating that could even be up to 22 percent reduction in mortality.

Volunteering even a few hours a week will give you a “helpers high”, which as I had stated in a previous blog, helps the brain pump dopamine into your system.

One interesting fact was that even youth who volunteered had health benefits from volunteering. This article stated that volunteering helped to reduce cholesterol levels just by volunteering once a week for two months.

This article has some really interesting information about how good volunteering can be for your health.

So why don’t people volunteer? Everyone should.

Schools should be promoting and teaching volunteerism. Companies should be encouraging employees to volunteer. Boomers who are retiring should start volunteering. Everyone should do it.

If you are not sure how to start or need some advice, please contact us at

Read this article and make a call.

International volunteer day

Today we formally salute the efforts of the many volunteers who take time out of their days to make a difference.
I have thought that the phrase “make a difference” has been around for a long time but I still think that it is the right phrase.
There is so much that one can do to make a difference, whether it is smiling at someone in an elevator or telling them it have a nice day to serving a meal or coaching a sports team.
There are thousands of volunteer roles in the world, and millions of people fulfilling these role but they all have one thing in common, They make a difference. So today we salute that effort and hope that with the recognition that others will join this group of worthy volunteers and start to make a difference too.
Happy international volunteer day.

The Volunteer Coordinators Annual Plan

Having taught hundreds of volunteer coordinators, I have found that many do not have a plan for the year. So with this year coming to an end and a new year around the corner, it is time to plan for 2014.

Using the volunteer management cycle to frame your plan, where do you want to go next year?

Do you have a marketing plan, do you know when is the best time to recruit from different sectors of the community? For example the best time to recruit university students is September and January and March, before exams. Once students start studying for exams they are no longer looking for volunteer work and once exams are done, they are no longer accessing school websites until fall.

High school students are looking in the fall, January and then in May when they realize that they need to do hours by end of year.

Corporations have cycles as well, so you need to find out when the best time is for them. Fall is usually a good time for them to start thinking about volunteering and summer is one of the worst times.

Once you have built a recruitment plan, you can start populating when the best time is to recruit based on your volunteer needs cycle.

Retaining volunteers can also have a cycle, again based on when you need volunteers and what type of training and supervision that they need, you can build in a variety of training, education and communication that you want to coordinate for your volunteers. There are many ways to retain volunteers and using a variety of tools based on the types of volunteers that you have, will impact each group differently. One idea is to provide an educational session to a recognition event. Volunteers love to learn and providing them with a way to both be thanked and learn at the same time, is a great retention tool.

These are just a few ideas that you can implement to strategically plan for a successful volunteer program. For more information, you can also contact for more ideas.