Katie is Bush Heritage's Regional Volunteer Coordinator in the West Region
On Thursday the 5th of November, I celebrated International Volunteer Managers Day (IVMD) at a forum hosted by Volunteering WA (VWA) in Perth on Whadjuk Noongar country.
IVMD was founded in 1999 and each year a theme is chosen to celebrate the day. In 2020 'What’s Next?' was the theme and it reflected how much volunteering has changed over the year and the lessons we've learnt. The forum provided a focal point for volunteering leaders to collaborate and consolidate the way we want to move forward post COVID-19.
It was the first face-to-face event run by VWA since COVID and the room was buzzing as everyone caught up, swapped lockdown stories, and discussed how volunteers were transitioning back into their usual roles.
The speakers included:
- Dr Megan Paull, Senior Lecturer at Murdoch University
- Andrea Dinse, Strategic Volunteer Coordinator Communications and Engagement and Jennifer Pidgeon, Manager Strategic Volunteer and Youth Programs, from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES)
- Antonia Taylor, UWA Guild Volunteering Manager and Jenny Chang, UWA Volunteering and Community Engagement Chair from the University of WA
- Alecia Hancock from Hancock Creative
Megan spoke to us about 'Dealing with the Tricky Bits'. Volunteer Managers have always had to deal with tricky situations, and she reflected that as we make our way through the challenges of 2020, connecting with our volunteer manager peers is a great way to deal with complex circumstances.
I had some fantastic conversations with volunteer managers on my table from the Parks and Wildlife arm of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Cahoots who provide camps to children with disabilities, and Mosaic Community Care who provide disability services for the community and are at the beginning of their volunteer management journey.
Andrea and Jennifer spoke to us about their new Volunteering Hub, an online space that was created for volunteers across the five volunteer emergency services in WA. They talked about the role that volunteers played in the entire journey of the online Hub, from pre-conception, to its creation and roll out.
Over 320 volunteers were involved in the Working Party across the life of the project and it has now redefined the way that DFES engages and communicates with its 26 000 volunteers. It reminded me of our own Volunteer Advisory Committee (VAC) and how important the voices of volunteers are to volunteer involving organisations. It made me excited to be involved with the VAC at Bush Heritage and to see what they have planned to work on in 2021.
Next up was Antonia and Jenny from the UWA Guild. They spoke about what motivates a young person to volunteer (social connection, passion for the cause, work experience) and the unique considerations that an organisation needs to make when engaging with tertiary students. I was particularly looking forward to this talk as a long-term strategy of the Volunteer Coordination Team at Bush Heritage is to get more young people involved, to be mentored by and learn from our more experienced volunteers.
Last but not least was the very knowledgeable and energetic Alecia. I have heard Alecia speak before and she always provides an amazing insight into social media and how large a role it can play in the success of a not-for-profit. Alecia used to work in the commercial media space but now helps not-for-profits to better use their social media platforms for their causes. She spoke about which social media platforms to use, understanding which platform talks to who, and how to create your organisation's voice. She had some amazing insights into how to successfully reach different demographics just by posting at a particular time of day and on the right day of the week.
Overall, the day was extremely informative and provided ample opportunity to network with my fellow volunteer managers. I caught up with old connections and forged some new ones with organisations I am excited to work with in 2021.