It’s hard to believe that Cohort 8 is already halfway through their HALO Award program year! Last week the cohort of seven Los Angeles-based nonprofit organizations met for their second of four Peer Learning Sessions. At these Sessions key volunteer program and organization staff address specific volunteer program challenges and opportunities, participate in facilitated discussion led by Blue Garnet, and develop a volunteer management plan.
During the Session, Debbie Unruh, Executive Director of Elizabeth House and member of Cohort 7, returned to the HALO Award family to share about Elizabeth House’s HALO experience – both during their program year and now almost a year out. Debbie explained how the impact of the award transcends beyond the year-long, intensive support from Blue Garnet and the Foundation. In fact, Debbie and her staff often refer to the binder which contains the notes, worksheets, and activities from their own Peer Learning Sessions; she humorously referred it as her “Volunteer Management Bible.” Debbie’s alumni perspective provided the Cohort with meaningful context and the opportunity to learn from another organization’s hindsight.
Debbie Unruh, Elizabeth House
As Cohort 8 continues to develop their volunteer management plans, several organizations explained a shift in the way they view volunteers since meeting at the first Peer Learning Session. These organizations are challenging what historically has been more of a transactional approach to volunteer management and are now identifying ways to consider and utilize volunteers as an extension of their own staff. Though each organization recruits and utilizes volunteers differently, all seven organizations agree that volunteers are vital members of their teams and central to achieving their organizational goals. Cohort 8 left Peer Learning Session 2 feeling “motivated,” “challenged,” and “ready” to continue developing their plans.
The purpose of the HALO Award is to strengthen and sustain nonprofit organizations through the support of volunteer program - it is always exciting to see the Cohort develop strategic volunteer managements plans that not only enhance strategies, but also directly reflect the values of the organizations and thus deepen impact.