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Susan J. Ellis and Her Legacy of Training

Susan J. Ellis may be best remembered for her prolific writing and famous "Hot Topics," her personal musings on important issues in the volunteer engagement field. But for many people, their fondest memories and biggest 'aha' moments came from Ellis’ work as a trainer. This Training Designs shares the insights and lessons learned from Ellis as she blazed a trail across the field and trained thousands of leaders of volunteers, past and present.  

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Powerful Questions: Work Smarter with the Answers You Get through the Questions You Ask

As Leaders of Volunteers, communication is an integral part of our job. It anchors most of the work we do, whether it be within our organization to volunteers and  colleagues, or externally focusing on recruitment and engagement. It can sometimes feel like our work is full of evolving priorities, recurring focus shifts, and an ongoing to-do list. As we navigate our way through with questions – asking them and answering them – are we asking the right ones? Are we looking for more than YES and NO as answers? Are we using questions to drive the evolution and expansion of our work?

In this Training Designs, writer Erin McLean explores how to apply "Powerful Questions" to our work with volunteers – from screening to training, coaching, and feedback. This article provides Leaders of Volunteers with the framework for how to take a revised approach to communication and questions with volunteers, whether the purpose of the conversation is exploratory, positive, or in response to a conflict or challenge. This Training Designs highlights the formation and purpose of powerful questions, and explains how to apply them to working with volunteers. Readers will no doubt walk away with knowledge to guide the future questions they ask, and the impact of the answers they receive.  

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Skills Mapping: A New Approach To Stronger Teams

Working with and through volunteer teams presents as many opportunities as it does challenges. In this Training Design, Nancy Shelford of the Canadian Cancer Society presents a Skills Mapping Workshop designed specifically to successfully empower volunteer groups to identify their strengths. This Training Design helps identify individual and group strengths, and can be used to help identify opportunities to welcome new team members’ skills to the fold.

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Three Simple Steps to Turn LinkedIn into a Recruitment Gateway

We’re all looking to improve our recruitment skills and to take advantage of new technologies and tools. This Training Designs presents a step-by-step guide on how to use the search function within LinkedIn to do targeted searches. In these three steps, you and your organization can become a recruitment magnet.

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Voices For Something New: The National Alliance for Volunteer Engagement

Have you ever felt like you are working all alone in volunteer management, or being pulled in different directions by groups working in siloes? Then you will be excited to hear about the launch of the new National Alliance for Volunteer Engagement, a group that developed after the 2017 National Summit on Volunteer Engagement Leadership “to guide future collective action at the national level towards embracing volunteer engagement as an effective strategy to address community needs.”

In this Voices, author Allyson Drinnon hears from some of the people active in the National Alliance for Volunteer Engagement movement. They explain why this collective action at the national level will advance the power and potential of volunteer engagement.


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Revisiting the Imperial War Museum North: Still Engaged in Innovative Programmes for Nontraditional Volunteers

When it opened in July 2002, the Imperial War Museum North (IWM North) in Manchester, England, unveiled an ambitious community volunteering project: the museum had recruited over 100 local residents, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, to work towards vocational qualifications in the museum prior to its opening, building confidence, gaining experience, and increasing employability. This ‘Shape Your Future’ Programme, first described by Lynn Blackadder in an October 2002 feature article for e-Volunteerism, was considered groundbreaking for the museum, while empowering and even life-changing for many volunteers.

Fourteen years later, e-Volunteerism revisits IWM North and brings readers up to date on the museum's many positive and innovative approaches to volunteer involvement since the original project began. Author Danielle Garcia reveals that IWM North continues to build a reputation as a major cultural institution, a community collaborator, and a leader in engaging what many would consider ‘nontraditional’ volunteers in service that blends self-help with accomplishing important work.

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Forming a Collaborative Training Partnership: A Rollercoaster of Learning Curves for Three Volunteer Centres

Not long ago, three Volunteer Centres in neighboring communities near the Waterloo-Wellington area of Ontario, Canada were all trying to provide top-quality training and professional development for their member organizations. After noticing that many topics of interest were the same in all three communities, representatives from each centre concluded that the combined resources of three centres were better than one. Which begged the question: Could they work together as a team to deliver the best possible training and education programs?

The answer was a big, resounding “Yes.”  A few months later, the seed that would eventually grow into the Waterloo-Wellington Learning Alliance (WWLA) was planted.

In this Training Designs, authors Sarah Daly and Joanna Michalski describe how the three Volunteer Centres worked together in 2010 to create a partnership benefiting all three of their communities. Though the authors admit that creating WWLA has been a “rollercoaster of learning curves,” they use this Training Designs to share examples of how community-focused collaboration strategies can translate into training and professional development opportunities that other volunteer organizations can benefit from and implement, too.  

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Isolation Is Not an Option

Connecting with colleagues in volunteer management is essential for the profession and for each of us as individuals. No one argues this point. But are we as a field effectively networking and collaborating with the tools available to us today?

Despite enormous technological progress in global communication, many volunteer resources managers express continuing feelings of isolation in their work. In a world where everyone automatically goes online for movie show times or restaurant reviews, why do so few of our colleagues think of Googling “volunteer management” to connect professionally? What can we – the wired editors and readers of this journal – do to change the situation? In this Points of View, Susan J. Ellis and Rob Jackson review the options. 


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Peer Career Coaching: Investing in Your Professional Development

How many of you have actually taken the time to create a strategy for your own professional development? Have you considered what you would like to achieve professionally over the next year or the next five? So many of us discuss the need to professionalize volunteer management so that our organizations will value volunteers and the work we do, leading to greater investment in volunteerism and viewing us as internal experts. But for that to occur it must start with each of us. 

According to Sheri Wilensky Burke and Gerald (Jerry) Pannozzo, it's important for each individual to invest in professional development. There are many strategies out there to accomplish this: subscriptions to publications such as this one; memberships in professional associations, attending conferences and workshops; mentoring; and the strategy Burke and Pannozzo describe as peer career coaching. In this feature article, read how these long-time colleagues used peer career coaching to collaborate on a mutual support plan to increase their professional skills and opportunities. After reading, perhaps you can, too. 

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