Last month the 2016 HALO Award awardees met as Cohort 6 for the first time for a peer convening at The California Endowment – Center for Healthy Communities. This was the first of four peer learning sessions that will take place during the HALO Award program year. At these peer learning sessions, HALO Award awardees focus on relationship building amongst the other cohort organizations, addressing specific volunteer program issues, participating in facilitated discussions by Blue Garnet, and hearing from guest speakers, including HALO Award program alumni. HALO Award peer learning sessions are thoughtful, strategic, and interactive for participants.
This being Cohort 6’s first peer convening, there was a strong focus on not only getting acquainted with the different organizations and their volunteer programs, but also on getting to know one another individually. The impact of the HALO Award does not end with a single grant and year of program support; the program design encourages awardees to become a family of nonprofits who have shared experiences in the program that they can lean on and be resources for long after the end of their award year.
In addition to relationship building, organizations had time to reflect on their volunteer programs, answering questions about program approach, challenges, and successes. This activity allowed for cross-organizational discussion that revealed themes of common challenges and approaches from all the organizations.
Participants were then guided through an exercise where they envisioned what volunteers experience when working with their organization. This activity challenged organizations to think about the volunteer experience from a new perspective, revealing areas that needed further exploration to improve the quality of their volunteers' journeys.
It was an exciting first peer convening, full of thoughtful conversation – we can’t wait for our next convening!