My Professional Development JourneyPaula Pratt
1. I learned everything I possibly could about my organization – Harvesters – The Community Food Network. It’s a regional food bank covering the northeast section of Missouri and the northwest section of Kansas. I had learned from a volunteer manager who was very passionate about the organization, and I knew that was what initially sparked my interest and engagement. Potential volunteers know when you are a part of an organization with which you want to make a difference. They can feel your enthusiasm, passion and dedication, and they are much more likely to want to get involved. I’d been involved in customer service for many of my corporate years, and I continued to sign up for seminars, webinars, anything related to new ideas for customer service, because delivering outstanding customer service is critical to successful volunteer engagement.
2. I was also fortunate to be with an organization that valued professional development, and I’ve been able to attend most NCVS conferences since I’ve been involved in the field. That plus getting involved with a local DOVIA gave me access to many peers who very willingly shared their knowledge and expertise and gave me more tools to help improve my own volunteer program. I also religiously read everything I could get my hands on from national volunteer management experts such as Susan Ellis, Betty Stallings, etc.
3. Lastly, I was asked in 2009 if I would consider teaching volunteer management as a part of a nonprofit leadership program at a local college. I didn’t have a teaching background, but I worked with a great mentor who helped me develop a syllabus, class objectives and activities, etc. I still teach volunteer management in the spring semester each year, and I use the book that is used to study for the Certification in Volunteer Administration. It’s an outstanding book, and teaching and learning from nonprofit leadership students really keeps me constantly working to stay current on volunteer management issues.