Monday, July 27, 2015

Volunteer Motivation

Last week, we discussed a few ways to make sure you can keep the volunteers you have recruited. Taking steps to ensure your volunteers stay helps reduce negative impacts caused by turnover, and volunteers who are engaged and motivated are happier and more productive. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to motivating and keeping volunteers. Therefore, this week we will examine some of the science behind motivating people, and some suggestions on applying it to your own organization.

Take a look at the following video by RSA Animate. It discussed some research that has been conducted into the types of rewards that motivate humans.

According to the many studies that were highlighted in this video, people are not necessarily motivated by monetary rewards. This piece of information is important to any volunteer administrator, since the majority of volunteers don't receive any kind of monetary reward. People volunteer because they are motivated to use their skills to make a contribution. I have found this to be true among my 4-H volunteers. They give their time and their skills because they want to contribute to the positive development of our 4-H members. I have even experience this concept myself--as a college student, I spent my spring breaks traveling to rural or low income areas to make a difference in those communities. I was not paid to go on these trips, and even had to fundraise to pay for the cost of transportation, food, and lodging.

Our Alternative Spring Break Group at the St. Luke's Center in Flint, MI.
What does this mean for your organization? Although recognition and communication remain important to retaining your volunteers, keep in mind the concepts from this video to help you understand your volunteers. First of course, is the idea of mastering a skill, and using that skill to go towards a greater purpose. Second, you want to make sure your volunteers have some autonomy in their work. My volunteers don't like to be micromanaged, and they really don't like having to attend meetings that aren't of any value to their time. However, they do appreciate meetings that are more educational and can help them improve their skills and contributions to our 4-H Clubs. What's most important about this is making sure you don't put too much emphasis on profit, instead of purpose.

Lastly, be intentional with your programs and your use of volunteers. As I mentioned previously, my volunteers don't like to attend meetings just for the sake of a meeting. Similarly, don't utilize your volunteers for programs that are simply created to add to your numbers. With monetary reward off the table, volunteers will become more engaged when they are using their skills for a bigger purpose in the organization. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Finding Volunteers and Keeping Them

As a 4-H Agent and Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) professional, my programs cannot run without the support of volunteers. In fact, utilizing volunteer support helps us establish community partnerships, one of VCE's core values. By donating their time and skills, volunteers help us significantly reduce our program costs, which helps when you are starting out with a limited budget.

My time as a 4-H Agent is extremely valuable, and my job responsibilities extend far beyond that of managing volunteers. Therefore, it is extremely important that I not only have the volunteer support I need for my programs, but I also don't need to constantly spend time and energy recruiting and training new volunteers. Retaining volunteers is important for community organizations--it adds stability to an organization. Personally, I know that keeping volunteers committed is good for our 4-H program because of several reasons. First, many of our 4-H programs need long term volunteers to keep going. This is particularly applicable to all of our 4-H clubs. This way, the volunteers are able tot spend at least several years serving the organization and mentoring the youth in the clubs. Second, it takes considerably less time to train returning volunteers. Returning volunteers just need updates every so often; in addition, I've found that my experienced volunteers can serve as valuable mentors to new recruits.

Thus, retaining volunteers is an important component to community programs, especially my own. Fortunately, there are many strategies that can help with retaining volunteers. One step is to ensure that volunteers are receiving recognition--whether it's a simple thank you card or an awards banquet, giving thanks for the volunteer's effort is important in keeping them around. Another strategy is through consistent communication. Communication not only helps the volunteer stay informed of their responsibilities and any changes, but it also helps the Volunteer Administrator solicit feedback for improvement. This article also notes that a proper orientation can help ensure that the volunteer sticks around with the organization. From personal experience, I've noticed that the better I am at training and communication, then the more likely it is that my volunteers stick around.

There are many additional ways to keep volunteers motivated and engaged than listed in this post.  Whatever you do, make sure that you take some steps in keeping your volunteers happy. A few improvements in the right direction can go a long way in retaining volunteers for your organization.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Confessions

Happy Friday, friends! This week has been dragging along, and I didn't even have a full work week--I'm currently on my way to Blacksburg for one of my best friend's wedding. Unfortunately, I think having one day off during the week makes the time stretch even longer. Just a fact of life.

Anyway, I have a few confessions for you today, my friends, and if you'd like to see the wedding-related shenanigans I'll be up to this weekend, you can follow me on insta.

- My neighbor and I went to the Taylor concert in DC on Monday, and it was basically bomb dot com. First of all, (in addition to some teenager I've never heard of) Vance Joy and Haim were the openers. I didn't even realize Haim was opening, and when I saw their banner up onstage I literally lost my mind. Second, Lorde was her special guest. Lorde! All these amazing musicians in one night, my heart could hardly handle it! Lastly, Taylor always puts on an amazing show, and the energy from the 45,000 people in Nats Park was incredible. Also, fireworks. Lord knows I can't be unhappy if fireworks are involved.

Also, this one time I met Taylor Swift ant it was magical--she wasn't even popular but her show was so good, I immediately bought her debut album. She was super sweet, signed our CDs, and took pictures with a whole line of people. This is basically my claim to fame.

- Blogging is tough, because who hasn't said that before? I was so eager to get back to blogging when I basically have zero ideas for posts. Of course, the moment my wrist healed up was the moment I started yet another class for grad school, which hasn't helped.

- I have a problem, and it's called the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. I think I've gone to the website basically every day since early access started, hemming and hawing over this and that and agonizing over every decision. The items I ended up choosing arrived yesterday--I decided I would take a few things back, which meant I obviously should buy some other things to replace those things. Cooler heads prevailed, and although I couldn't resist going back for this necklace, I've managed to end up with a smaller balance than what was originally spent.

- Speaking of the sale, it's open today for everyone! If you buy anything, you should buy this awesome beer opener. I bought one for Matt last Christmas and we love it--I think I've also bought three or more since that time because they also make excellent gifts.

- This is one of the best things the internet has ever created. My favorite is, "pretty obvious which sibling is going to have to deal with all the nursing home stuff." Poor Mary!

- Do not be alarmed if you see random posts every now and then about volunteer administration and philosophies and concepts and whatnot. I'm just completing assignments for my grad school class and will resume normal programming shortly.

- Last year, I was in no mood for summer to end. This year, it's the opposite--I'm kind of already over summer and am ready for fall...but for the love of all that is holy, please do not give me another winter like last year.

- I disappointing was the Amazon Prime sale?!? Talk about a letdown! I ended up ordering some items that had been in my cart, but they weren't even part of the sale. What a waste.

Those are all my confessions for the day, friends! Have an excellent weekend and party positive.

All Love,

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

It's finally here--a day I've been waiting for since September 2014. It's the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, and now that I'm finally a cardholder, I've got early access! It's basically Christmas for adults--including a very large credit card bill at the end. (Just kidding, Matt! Maybe.)

Don't have a card? Don't worry--the sale will open to everyone on July 17th, and there will still be plenty of deals to be had! At one point today, my cart held $700 worth of stuff--no joke. Since I'm not made of money (how can I make that happen?), I whittled that down to a more manageable (affordable) number. Here are just a few examples of what was driving my inner conflict today:

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks 2015

1. This coat is everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. Are you seeing that gorgeous emerald color? Because I see it and I am salivating like Pavlov's dogs. Unfortunately, as a Trina Turk item, it's sale price is even out of my league, but a girl can dream, right?

2. This beautiful little sweater cape actually made the cut, and as a classic blogger, you better believe I'm dying to style that over some skinnies and boots come fall.

3. The bright blue hue of this dress caught my eye. I love fit and flare styles, and this is the kind of dress you could dress up or down. Pair it with a cardi and flats for a day at the office, or throw on your best pearls and pumps for a night out.

4. I can't get over these Mary Jane pumps! I mean, good grief, it took every ounce of willpower for me to say "no." It's quite possible I may breakdown and make another purchase.

5. I've heard great things about Zella items at Nordstrom, and this colorful print actually makes me want to hit the gym.

6. Give me all the Kendra Scott! I've really been looking out for some Kendra Scott pieces for a while now, and there are plenty to be found at the sale, like this lovely necklace.

And ladies, that's not all. Like I said--$700 in my cart, remember? A few other items I spotted are an absolutely gorgeous lace romper; Hue leggings (the best); adorbs scalloped flats; and the cutest Kate Spade iPhone case. Stay tuned for part two, because as I realized before I hit the submit button, there are a million and one things to be found in the Home department!

All Love,

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Past Two Months

Hello, blog friends! It has been well over two months since my last post. In that time, while in the midst of attempting to bring back a favorite 90s trend, I went a little too fast on my rollerblades, flipped backwards, and broke my wrist. Two months, one surgery, and countless physical therapy sessions later, I am almost completely healed.

Look at that face.
A broken bone is quite an inconvenience. I know you're all thinking, "well, obviously," but YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW! You don't even know. Once that wrist was broken, I knew life would be a little more difficult. However, there were so many little, everyday things that I never would have imagined to cause me so much frustration. Here are just a few examples of the struggle with living with a broken wrist:

- Getting dressed: Honestly, I could manage almost every article of clothing except for my bra. If Matt wasn't around to help me, I resorted to camis with built-ins and looser clothes. Girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

- Ponytails: Hair styling of any kind was quite cumbersome--I resorted to paying money at the local beauty bar several times just so I would look halfway decent. Worst of all, I couldn't hide my hair troubles with a ponytail. It took me about a month and a half to do one myself; until then, I relied on my mom/MIL, friends, and any woman in the immediate vicinity to take care of it for me.

- Personal care: Showers were obviously out of the question, so of course Matt had to help me with washing my hair and whatnot for a good while. I also needed help with toothpaste, perfume, putting on jewelry, etc. There is currently a dent in my Tory Burch rollerball perfume lid, because one morning I got frustrated and tried to open the lid with my teeth. Needless to say, that was an unsuccessful endeavor.

Headbands and hats were my best friends.
- Writing: If you're going to break your wrist, break the one you don't write with, okay? My left handed writing was so atrocious, I usually just resorted to whatever scribble I could muster with my injured hand. "Your left hand writing isn't that bad," they would say. No--you don't want to see what my left hand will do.

- Paper towels and soap dispensers: One day, a little girl in the Nordstrom bathroom watched me as I struggled to get soap out with my elbow. Thanks for the help, kid! Paper towel dispensers that required you to grab with both hands and pull were also my enemy.

- Driving: For about two and a half weeks, I was in a hard cast that went past my elbow, so there was no driving to be had. Many thanks to Matt and several co-workers for chauffeuring me around.

Despite all the setbacks, I feel very lucky that my injury wasn't worse. Recovery has been slow, but I'm certainly making progress. I'm so thankful I have Matt, who was basically a superstar during all of my ups and downs, and my parents, who helped us out after surgery. And let's not forget this dood:
THAT face!
Just don't expect me to get back on rollerblades anytime soon.

All Love,

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