Lessons from the IGNITE Volunteering 2013 Conference
In the below Lyndsey McKee, Corporate Partnerships Manager shares the learnings from her recently facilitated “Consult & Collaborate” session at the IGNITE volunteering conference in Sydney.
Last week I got the opportunity to present at the 2013 IGNITE Volunteering Conference. I was asked to host a workshop on corporate volunteering, aligned to the theme “Consult and Collaborate.” Perhaps it’s not surprising then, that I asked Shannon Carruth, Community Impact Manager for ING DIRECT to join me in hosting the session. As well as the session being a collaborative effort, I hoped the 40 workshop attendees from a range of corporate and not-for-profits would benefit in hearing from both sides of the volunteering story.
ING DIRECT and United Way have been working together since 2007. Like many of our corporate partner relationships, our partnership with ING Direct started off with team volunteering and together, our offer to ING Direct employees has progressed into one of a diverse ‘menu’ of opportunities. Given that, Shannon & I wanted to use this session to reflect on the corporate volunteering journey over the past ten years, as well as a chance to discuss how we are working together to advance our volunteering programs through measurement and evaluation.
Firstly, we created a continuum for the attendees to use which ranged from unskilled volunteering, to soft skilled, specialist skilled, and finally to strategic volunteering. By plotting out the workshop participants’ volunteering opportunities on this continuum it was interesting to see how the bulk of opportunities remained at the unskilled end of the volunteering spectrum. Interestingly however, more people readily discussed the increased engagement and value that occured as a result of specialist and strategic volunteering. Points were also raised about the challenges these types of skilled volunteering bring, such as opportunities for scaling activities, the need for increased structure and the difficulties involved in managing the expectations of both parties.
As well as lots of lively debate around the volunteering journey, we also used the opportunity to discuss measurement and evaluation. Given that the volunteering offer has changed, it follows that we need to consider a new way of measuring the impact of our various corporate volunteering programs.
Shannon told us about her goal to more adequately measure the value of skilled volunteering within ING DIRECT as opposed to focusing on the quantitative results of number of hours contributed and the number of people helped. And I used the opportunity to highlight how United Way is using an impact map to assess our volunteering programs given that this considers the longer term social outcomes as opposed to focusing on the number of activities and the volunteering outputs.
The majority of workshop participants agreed that we need to consider a more encompassing and robust measurement process when assessing the impact of corporate volunteering. We still have a long way to go in terms of evaluating employee supported volunteering, but the workshop proved that the conversation is very much underway and people are starting to ask the tough questions.
Corporate Partnerships Manager