Association of Volunteer Managers Conference blog

I attended the Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) conference 2016 in London thanks to the support of Museums Development North West. I only recently made the move from Duty Manager to Volunteers Manager at the National Football Museum. I joined the Association of Volunteer Managers during the first few months in my new role, you receive a newsletter as part of being a member and it was here that I first became aware of the conference. The conference was very appealing to me as it looked like a great opportunity to network and discuss the latest approaches taken towards volunteering across various sectors.

After registering I received a conference guide. It difficult to choose which presentations and talks I wanted to attend as there were so many. One of the really useful things about attending the conference is that the presentations are now all online on the VGM website which is great I can catch up I with all the presentations I missed and also can catch the ones I did attend again.

There were over 220 Volunteer Managers/Coordinators at the conference so it’s a big one with lots of opportunities to network with a wide mixture of people from different sectors and with different backgrounds and ideas about volunteering.

The conference opened with the AVM Director Rachael Bayley discussing what the AVM had achieved within the last year and where it wanted to go in the future. It was great to see people so engaged and passionate about volunteering and a really motivating start to the day. We then heard from Karl Wilding who discussed how volunteering will fit in within the National Council of Voluntary Organisations future strategy.

The conference then had three morning workshops (Great Scott! – Future trends and issues in volunteer management; Volunteers and the law – what do I need to know?; and DeMontfort University and National Trust Research). I attended the Great Scott! – Future trends and issues in volunteer management workshop which was presented by Rob Jackson (from Rob Jackson Consulting). The workshop discussed the important issues for volunteer managers over the next 12-18 months and how volunteer managers can help make their organization future ready.

Lunch was a great time to meet and network with other volunteer managers and have time with key staff from the AVM team (who were really welcoming and friendly).

The afternoon also had three workshops (Measuring volunteer impact; Volunteering and digital media; and Volunteers and the law – Ask me anything!). I attended the Volunteering and digital media workshop ran by David Hunt (Digital manager at Leonard Cheshire Disability). This workshop discussed why online advertising can be a useful avenue to recruit voluteers, a really helpful group activity involved us discussing how this could be implemented in our organisations. The workshop was really useful for me as I wanted to see what other organisations are doing to attract volunteers thorough social media and also to pick up some tips for future recruitment.

For both workshops it was a great chance to work in teams with people I hadn’t met before and to listen to other volunteer managers about their experiences. It was also nice and reassuring to hear people have similar issues and ideas as me.

The time I had at the conference was excellent, it will definitely help me in the future as I have made connections with other volunteer managers around the country who I can call on for advice when needed and also for a general catch up. I’ll be actively looking for ways I can put to use some of the knowledge I picked up from the conference in the future. I’d thoroughly recommend it.

Darren Collingwood, Volunteers Manager at National Football Museum

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