ConnectFor recently hosted its first ever workshop for its NGO partners. The workshop was a half day event, designed to discuss the best practices and key challenges around volunteering, and give our partners an opportunity to engage with us and each other. The workshop was broken down into 4 broad sessions: A panel discussion on volunteer management, a session of volunteers sharing their stories, a game to portray the challenges at both ends, and finally a data presentation, showcasing trends in the space.
There was a lot of sharing and learning packed into those 3 hours! Here are the top 7 takeaways from the first ever ConnectFor Volunteer Management Workshop:
- There is no equal representation of sexes in the social sector. Both in terms of working professionals, and volunteers, the majority is over 60% female.
2. Successful volunteer management is a formula, comprising in equal parts:
- Make volunteers believe in your Cause
- Make sure volunteers are either using their, or developing new, Skills
- Convenience matters to even those who want to do good — be aware of the Location
- It is key to create realistic and practical Opportunities. A 6 month long, daily opportunity is not for volunteering, it is for a job.
- It is impossible to expect a volunteer to deliver results without good Management. Setting clear goals, reducing the lag time for response etc, are good ways to ensure this.
3. The distribution of NGOs across Mumbai means that any individual who is keen to volunteer will be able to find an NGO within a 20-minute radius from their homes.
4. Misaligned expectations is the key challenge in the space, and presents problems on both sides. Structure is one of the best ways to navigate this.
5. Positive reinforcement works as well (if not better) on adults as it does on children!
6. There is a 48 hour golden period — this is the window of time during which a volunteer who is enthusiastic should be contacted; after this, volunteers slowly lose excitement and enthusiasm for the opportunity they were once interested in.
7. Out-of-office replies, and a single email id for volunteer management, are two effective ways of managing volunteers and ensuring continuous and ongoing engagement with them, before they even start volunteering.