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Personal Volunteer History

Personal Volunteer History

Want to elicit an “ah-ha!” moment from people who think too narrowly about what volunteering is and who does it?  The “Personal Volunteer History” worksheet provided in this Training Designs article is the core of a training exercise that will do just that. It will help:

  • Demonstrate to paid staff or members of the general public that everyone has been (and probably still is) a volunteer in some way, although that label might not be applied to the activity. So it’s a great way to start an introductory workshop or course about volunteering, particularly the issue of vocabulary making much of volunteering invisible.
  • Guide a screening interview – of both volunteers and employees – to gauge the candidate’s personal understanding of volunteering.
  • Structure volunteer orientation sessions and even recognition events, putting the service that volunteers do for your organization into personal context.

Generally the hardest part of the exercise is getting participants to really think back on what they have done over their lives (the older the respondent, the more they need to remember!). But the worksheet’s greatest value is in the reflection and discussion it can generate, which is something e-Volunteerism readers can appreciate.

To read the full article

Fri, 02/03/2012
About 12 years ago I heard about some research which said “if you haven’t volunteered by the time you are 15 then you never will”. I was never able to resource the research, but the statement sure made me think about when and how I started volunteering, and a lot about why I still keep at it. You should patent this training design Susan, because I think it could be a real wake-up call if promoted to people who don’t ‘get’ volunteering – which is about two-thirds of our populations, including government offices, corporate volunteering which can be more self-serving than genuine goodwill, and sometimes a few NFP organisations. You highlight a number of ‘informal’ examples of volunteering which might make the purists of volunteering definitions blink, but which are intrinsic to ethnic cultures based on communalism, as we know well in Aotearoa New Zealand. You suggest this exercise reinforces how volunteer management principles and best practices can be applied well or ignored at peril. Which suggests to me there is much to recommend that all people involved as managers of volunteers should undertake the process of reflection and recognition of their personal volunteering history. Because we all have one, don’t we?