Friday, October 30, 2009

A new online resource to help Volunteer Managers avoid reinventing the wheel, a new resource clearinghouse for the volunteer sector was unveiled at the Administrators of Volunteer Resources – British Columbia conference today. This free-to-use website is one where those who work in the field of volunteer management will be able to add useful resources and others in the field will be able to access them. Resources could be;
  • Downloadable, real-world examples of forms, manual or position descriptions
  • Templates & tools for creating resources
  • Tips, ideas and how-to articles
Most managers of volunteers are happy to help their peers. Many of the resources needed by volunteer managers are very similar, even when each organization‟s volunteer program is unique. Rather than starting from scratch, managers will be able to search for resources similar to what they need, download an example or a template for it and then just modify it to meet their specific needs. Tips and how-to articles will also be available for reference in using the downloadable resources and to further the education of volunteer managers on a variety of topics. Although there are websites out there that contain advice for those who manage volunteers, this is the first site to be built around the concept of peer-contributed content and the first to include downloadable examples in its focus. The founders and managers of the volunteer sector‟s online VPM groups see the potential of Andy Fryar, the Director & Founder of OzVPM states “I am constantly being asked whether I can refer attendees to a particular application form or template of one kind or another. Having all of these documents in one 'clearing house' is a wonderful idea, and one I am certain will prove a beneficial tool to VPMs the world over." Rob Jackson, the Founder of UKVPM supports that notion."Anything that helps people navigate their way through the vast ocean of volunteer management resources and find those islands of relevant information that will help them in their work is a welcome addition to the field." All resources added to the clearinghouse will cite the contributor‟s name. Anyone will be able to access these resources and download the files that their peers have added for the purpose of sharing them. With a free registration, those that make use of the resources will be able to comment back into the site how it helped them. Meghan Kaskoun, the Manager of Cyber-VPM and Co-Founder of AVPPA sees additional benefits beyond helping locate resources to use. “Not only will it provide resources, but it sounds like it will provide individuals the professional development opportunity of gaining credibility and credence within the field as they write about the industry from their unique perspective.” For those that would like to contribute to the clearinghouse, the process is very simple. Go to and register as a contributor. You will have immediate access to be able to start adding anything that you feel could help others in the field. Your content will begin to appear on the site as soon as the site administrators confirm it to be a legitimate contribution. According to a recent survey of managers of volunteers across the USA, Australia and Canada, the examples from others that are most in demand are position descriptions, volunteer manuals and consent forms. The how-to article topics that were sought most often in the survey included; training and orientation, strategic recruitment and volunteer recognition. Susan Ellis of Energize Inc. sees this as a real call to action for leaders of volunteer efforts.“Everyone always wants to see examples of real-life materials that colleagues have worked hard to develop and already proven useful. Sites like offer important information but haven't collected those sought-after templates and other tools. If our colleagues rise to the occasion and share what they have, over time will be a treasure trove of idea starters!" There are a few factors that coalesced together as the genesis for this project. As a member of CyberVPM, OzVMP and UKVPM I could see the number of times that people were looking for resources they could adopt and for information on a variety of topics. By the responses to those requests it was obvious people in the sector are willing to share. Books such as Wikinomics (Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams) and Crowdsourcing (Jeff Howe) brought it all together as they described the variety of new ways that people are collaborating together. The site‟s group collaboration approach is not the element that makes it a unique offering to the volunteer sector. In addition to being able to access individual resources, collections of resources can be linked together to form an online manual of sorts. Organizations with many locations or municipalities with various departments can assemble the resources and articles that relate to how it sees volunteer management and then give access to their online volunteer manager's manual to all of those who work with volunteers within the organization. If there is information that needs to be included that would not be relevant to other organizations, it can be added to the online manual but left out of the general resource search. The site carries a "Beta" stamp in the header banner to indicate that there will be tweaks made to the site based on user feedback. True to the ideal of this being a site for professionals in the volunteer sector by professionals in the sector, the slogan on the banner reads “What slogan can we put here?”. Site users will get to vote for the one that works best for them the winning slogan's contributor will be awarded a $100 gift certificate to buy books from the Energize Inc website ( Once the early stage tweaks are done and the site is not considered to be in Beta mode any longer, consideration will be given to launch similar sites in other languages. These will be independent sites and there won‟t be any automatic translation involved. Content for those sites will be originally written in the other language or manually translated by the original contributor or someone on their behalf. This resource was programmed and funded by Volunteer2, ( creators of the volunteer management software, Volunteer Impact. is not tied into the software in any way and is free to use by any organization.