Archive | May, 2010

The Top 5 Reasons Volunteers Should Journal

3 May

As someone who values reflection as a process for bringing clarity to any professional situation, I am happy to share the top 5 reasons why I have found journaling to be beneficial to volunteers:

1)     Journaling is the most authentic (and most meaningful) self-evaluation tool a volunteer can use.

2)     It is an avenue for volunteers to document some of those “aha” moments that are unique to every volunteer challenge. These moments can be easily recalled later when brainstorming how to respond to a service need.

3)     Journaling is another way to keep a record of experiences for the purpose of career development. These experiences can be more readily referred to in a resume or interview when they have been documented.

4)     Journaling offers volunteers a personalized narrative history of their lives as volunteers. A volunteer’s journal is a keepsake of some of their most touching moments with clients, staff, fellow volunteers, and the community at large.

5)     There are many well known mental health benefits associated with journaling, including reduced stress and improved capacity to retain long-term memory.

Developing Customized Toolkits for Your Volunteer Facilitators

3 May

Here are a few tips to consider when developing customized toolkits for your volunteer facilitators:

1)      Make sure the tools selected fit the program that the facilitation project is part of. Try to increase your facilitator tool search to include existing facilitator activities that are customized to the specific type of service that the facilitation is needed for.

2)      Make sure the mission, vision, and values of your organization are reflected in the toolkit. Your organization’s mission, vision, and values should be included at the beginning of the toolkit and should be followed closely by the team developing the toolkit. The toolkit developers should prioritize facilitation tools that best reflect all three. When done correctly, the volunteer facilitators will have a greater understanding of how their role as facilitators helps your organization realize its mission, vision, and values.

3)       Make sure that the facilitation tools selected recognize and enhance the skills that each volunteer facilitator brings to the table. Instead of selecting tools that limit facilitators to structured facilitation questions, provide them with tools that help them customize questions through their own inquiry that are best suited for each facilitation process they lead. For an example, see The Art of Powerful Questions.

This resource includes a host of questions for your volunteers to ask themselves before facilitating so they can master the art of asking good questions. It also includes malleable, open-ended questions they can customize to fit the project.

I would like to leave you with an important recommendation when developing customized facilitator toolkits for your volunteers. Include them in the process! No volunteer facilitator toolkit is more customized to the project than one created by volunteer facilitators for volunteer facilitators. They will feel all the more connected to the facilitation content and will feel proud of the final product they all played a role in constructing. As a volunteer contributing to my current assignment, I do feel a sense of pride in the toolkit I am developing and feel closely connected to the content.