I'd like to begin this week's Thoughtful Thursday blog post by thanking you all for your weekly participation and ongoing interest. Without your contributions - it simply wouldn't work. We've plans afoot to develop our approach and format slightly - I guess you could call it taking it to the next stage, so do stay tuned to be part of that later in the summer.
Placing this weekly tweet chat in the context of what's happening in the wider world of social media, I think it's safe to say that some of us at least have reached a point where we can acknowledge the potential we now have to connect with oneanother; to extend our personal and professional networks and perhaps most interestingly for me - to learn. Indeed, the benefits are right there for us if we take time to stop and reflect for a moment, and our last webinar broadcast Connecting, Learning, Sharing discussed this very subject. (Do follow the link through to listen if you're new to all this or if you missed it first time round).
But what I'd like to focus on here is how we extend this connectivity, and this potential for learning and sharing to how we work with volunteers. And to find out what you're already doing to make the most of these ever-evolving tools.
There's an obvious role here in using some of these tools for getting your messages out to new and existing volunteers and many organisations and volunteering brokers have a key presence via facebook, Twitter and right here on ivo; as well as making the most of their own websites to say more about the organisation, to tell stories and to ask for help in terms of time and funds. Indeed, we played around with this idea for one of the earliest Thoughtful Thursday tweet chats - challenging participants to create a volunteer recruitment message in less than 140 characters. (And, we'll definitely be repeating that one again very soon if you missed it first time round.)
But I think that the scope for engaging with these tools and methods goes way beyond developing ways to recruit volunteers. There's an enormous potential for communicating more effectively, gaining feedback, creating discussions, for sharing, supporting and perhaps most interestingly for me - to learn.
It's much more than saying - we need to 'do' social media and then checking the box - because it will happen naturally, with or without you. Where volunteers are concerned, we need to be thinking through how we co-ordinate and facilitate it and how we support it to develop. Clearly, in some settings there needs to be an element of supervision or ground rules and for some great tips and examples of how to approach this check out Jayne Cravens' website. And, you will need to develop policy and reference points around it for volunteers and for paid staff - but to quote @janebozarth of learning technology twitter fame - "trust is cheaper than control" - and I think we can apply this to more than just the tech when it comes to volunteer involvement.
So how are you making your communications, your messages and your media social? Do you recognise the amazing potential here for informal learning? What I believe is happening is that the technology we have available, enables us to do what we've always done - learn informally and socially and connect through our networks - it's just that it's more noticeable, more amplified and we have the potential to reach more and different people. And I think that's really exciting!
My questions for you to get thoughtful about are these:
You can share your thoughts right here using the comments section below, and you can tweet in less than 140 characters using the hash tag #ttvolmgrs
As always, we look forward to hearing from you!