Managing Up

Today I had the pleasure of participating in “Volunteer Engagement Toolkit: Realities of Resource Allocation,” a fantastic training given by Kate Scherr-Adams of KS Solutions.   Sponsored by the Association of Community Services and the Volunteer Center Serving Howard County, this training focused on the true cost and value of volunteer programs.

Scherr-Adams’s audience today was comprised mostly of volunteer coordinators, and the questions we pondered are perennial:  How do we build a culture of respect for volunteerism? How do we prove the value of our volunteer programs?  And how do we leverage this respect and awareness into adequate organizational resource allocation for volunteers?

Many of Scherr-Adams’s excellent suggestions were familiar to those of us from Volunteer Maryland.   She recommended, as Volunteer Maryland does, that volunteer coordinators listen to staff about what they need from volunteers and give staff an opportunity to help design volunteer opportunities.  One great idea that Scherr-Adams shared is from Ivan Scheier’s Building Staff/Volunteer Relations:  Provide staff training on working with volunteers, and then commend staff when they have done a good job in this area.

Scherr-Adams ended by emphasizing that a big part of the “managing up” that volunteer coordinators do involves demonstrating the success of the program through both numbers and words.  My fellow Volunteer Maryland member, Stephon Hutt, was able to share with the group that Volunteer Maryland has already given her all the tools she needs to measure the outcomes of the volunteer program at Center of Help.  And Scherr-Adams’ was quick to give a shout out to Volunteer Maryland regarding the training we give our members in telling stories about their volunteers.  

Today’s training was a great reminder that all of us in the volunteer management world are continuing develop an impressive array of best practices.  And if you want to know more, Mickey Gomez, Director of the Volunteer Center Serving Howard County, live tweeted the entire training.

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