The most effective corporate Social Impact programs leverage the Transformative Approach. Done right, Transformative Social Impact programs have a network of volunteer leaders, led by the “right” people. But, it’s not just about finding the right people – it’s about equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to effectively deliver Transformative Experiences. It is only through effective Transformative Experiences that we can expect to collectively transform the human condition.
So, how do we properly equip our volunteer leaders to create space for Transformation?
As Social Impact evolves, so does what we need in volunteer leader training. Realized Worth’s latest iteration of Volunteer Leader Training: The Transformative Approach to Social Impact is the new best-in-class for companies.
Taking a page out of our own book, here are 8 must-haves in your volunteer leader training:
Define “volunteering” – and the role of volunteering – for your company.
What role does volunteering play at your company, for your employees, and in your communities? What is Transformative Volunteering, and how does it differ from transactional volunteering? Volunteer leaders must understand why this work – and why doing this work right – matters in their specific context to be motivated by it. In doing so, we are inviting them to engage with the community in increasingly authentic ways.
Paint the big picture that includes all partners in impact.
What is the “social sector”? Who are the key players? Who are your nonprofit and community partners? What are their common challenges, and how can we best support them? It is important to give volunteer leaders a stronger understanding of their nonprofit and community partners, including the power dynamics at play between companies and their communities. This promotes a more holistic and conscientious approach to impact that encourages volunteer leaders to lead more intentionally.
Articulate the role of volunteering in transforming the human condition.
What do our brains have to do with empathy? When does empathy lead us astray? Can we solve the “empathy problem”? And is volunteering a solution? By posing and answering these question with volunteer leaders, we challenge common perspectives on volunteering as just a tool to “give back.” We demonstrate that volunteering can be used as a powerful tool to rewire our brains to better serve how we live (or want to live) in society today. This is the framing of the real work we are doing together – the real why.
Get tactical about how to facilitate Transformative Experiences.
How do volunteer leaders facilitate Transformative Experiences while volunteering? What are the 3 Keystone Behaviors and why are they important? This is where things get practical. By training volunteer leaders on strategies to craft an effective Brief, expertly Guide Volunteer Experiences, and tactfully facilitate a Debrief, we are setting them up to facilitate a meaningful Transformative Experience that lasts beyond the event itself.
Be clear about how and where to find business-aligned volunteering opportunities.
How do volunteer leaders identify nonprofit partners and opportunities? Once they find them, how do they scope a project? How do they prepare for an event? Throughout the project, what can volunteer leaders do to promote a long-term partnership with the nonprofit? It is critical for volunteer leaders to take the time to think about the type of impact they want to have and identify nonprofit partners that may be a good fit – with their vision and the company’s values, causes, and/or mission. It is through the authentic involvement in community, intentional alignment with the company, and awareness of key cross-sector players do we promote a mutually beneficial partnership sustained to last.
Educate on cultural competency in volunteering environments.
Why is it important that corporate volunteering is employee-led? How do we ensure we have a positive impact when volunteering with the company, considering corporate power dynamics within a community? How can we strengthen our cultural competency through an understanding of identity, diversity, and inclusion? What are cross-sector partnerships and why should we advocate for them? The goal is to be relevant and responsive to those we serve. As we learn to center the needs of the community and prioritize people and relationships over tasks and logistics, we better align ourselves with community partners; we co-create solutions that best suit their needs. This is one more lens that promotes the effective execution of the Transformative Approach.
Provide strategies for recruiting, retaining, and recognizing volunteers.
How do volunteer leaders appeal to values when recruiting volunteers? Once they recruit them, how do they keep them? How does this support the goals of both volunteers and our volunteering programs? To effectively recruit and retain volunteers, volunteer leaders must be proficient in articulating project value (for the company, community and volunteers), appealing to volunteer motivations and priorities, and meeting volunteers where they are in their volunteer journey. Then, they can apply science-backed recognition strategies to keep them coming back. The result: a company-wide social movement focused on transformation.
Guide the translation of leadership and facilitation skills into the workplace.
What are the five key dynamics of successful teams? What are the critical skills of an effective leader and facilitator? And lastly, how do you create safe environments for our volunteers? Volunteering is a relatively safe and non-threatening environment for volunteer leaders to practice leadership and facilitation skills. When a volunteer leader is able to translate critical skills – such as creating psychologically safe spaces – to the workplace or at home, we begin to realize the benefits of volunteering beyond the confines of the event itself.
Looking to establish a training program, or level up your training suite? Realized Worth can help with options ranging from off-the-shelf training to on-site immersive learning experiences to custom course builds. For access to the course, Volunteer Leader Training: The Transformative Approach to Social Impact, join Social REV!