Liza Dyer & Corina Sadler: Your Fun Volunteer Program
As our 21NTC coverage continues, Liza Dyer and Corina Sadler share their stories of transforming volunteering from in-person to off-site. Then they share their lessons. Liza is at Multnomah County Library and Corina is with Volunteers in Plano.
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Hello and welcome to Tony-Martignetti non profit radio big non profit ideas for the other 95%. I’m your aptly named host of your favorite abdominal podcast. Oh, I’m glad you’re with me. I’d suffer the embarrassment of like the Asus if you dried me out with the idea that you missed this week’s show, your fund volunteer program As our 21 NTC coverage continues, Liza dire and Karina Sadler share their stories of transforming volunteering from in person to offsite. Then they share their lessons, Lizza is at multnomah County Library and Karina is with volunteers in plano Antonis take two, the new york city studio were sponsored by turn to communications pr and content for nonprofits. Your story is their mission turn hyphen two dot c o. And by sending Blue the only all in one digital marketing platform empowering non profits to grow. tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant in blue. What do you say we get started here is your fun volunteer program. Welcome to tony-martignetti non profit radio coverage of 21 ntc The 2021 nonprofit technology conference where we are sponsored by turn to communications turn hyphen two dot C. O. With me now are Lizza dyer, who is volunteer engagement coordinator at Multnomah County Library, Portland Oregon and Karina Sadler. Volunteer resources supervisor. The city of plano texas at volunteers in Plano. Welcome, Lizza. Welcome Karina.
Thanks for having us. tony [00:02:11.57] spk_2:
Hello, [00:02:17.44] spk_0:
It’s a pleasure. You each have a CVA after your name and uh, tell us what it I know it’s not cardiovascular accident. So tell us Karina, what what is C. V. A. What is that? What do you both? Uh, credentialed with [00:02:28.14] spk_2:
the C. V. A. Is a certified volunteer administrator. Is a global credential for leaders of volunteers if you have at least three years experience. And then it is an ongoing professional development networking and educational credential. [00:02:57.34] spk_0:
Cool. All right. I don’t think I’ve seen that one before. I mean, everybody knows the fundraising ones and the events. I haven’t seen a one for volunteer professionals. So interesting. All right. Yes, there are volunteer. Well, we know there are volunteer professionals. There’s a credential. What’s the organization that you get the credential from [00:03:07.24] spk_2:
The Council for Certification and Volunteer Administration. And there are 1100 of us around the world and growing. [00:03:15.44] spk_0:
Okay, Well, you don’t want too many. If if you get right, if you get too many, then it’s then it’s it’s watered down. Its liquefy. Its not as valuable. So you want to manage the number of CVS out there. You know, you don’t write, you want it to be something special. [00:03:30.24] spk_2:
We’ll make that decision when we get there. [00:03:32.84] spk_0:
Okay. Are you an authority? Are you an executive in, uh, in the agency? [00:03:37.43] spk_2:
I’m on the outreach committee. [00:03:39.74] spk_0:
Oh, so it’s your job. So you disagree with what I just said? You’re you’re trying to you’re trying to reach out. You’re trying to expand the C. V. A. Credential, not not restricted. [00:03:49.50] spk_2:
Bring in more voices from leaders of volunteers all over the world. [00:03:56.14] spk_0:
More. Okay. Not fewer. Alright. But soon. But be careful though. If it gets too watered down, it won’t mean as much, it won’t be as valuable to. [00:04:00.87] spk_2:
That’s a good point. [00:04:19.44] spk_0:
Now, I’m alive, Noma County Library and the city of Plano because it won’t be as valuable. Alright. Um So you each have stories of how you transformed your volunteer experiences in the pandemic. And then we’ve got some takeaways For future future programs, even when we end up back in person. So listen, let’s go to you to tell the tell the story at the Multnomah County Library 1st. [00:05:23.74] spk_1:
Absolutely. So at my county library we of course like everybody around the U. S. And around the world had to pretty much shut down very quickly. And we were in the midst of planning for our summer reading Volunteer program. And summer reading is a program every summer where kids and families read all summer long. And the whole point is to encourage people to read all summer long so they don’t lose those reading skills between when school ends in the spring and starts back up in the fall. Right. That’s called the summer slide when your skills slide because you’re not keeping up. And so the volunteer program is all about encouraging families and helping kids get excited about reading for fun. And because of COVID We couldn’t have volunteers in person. And normally we would have almost 900 youth volunteers In all of our 19 library branches. So in the span of about two weeks, we completely shifted that program to be at home and virtual. And if you’ve ever tried to get a youth to do something in person that’s already challenging. But then to get them to do it from a distance is another thing. So we really wanted to make it fun and meaningful and you know, they’re already online so much with school. So we had a lot of offline options as well. And that way we could still engage them as volunteers. They still have something to do over the summer and it would still be promoting our summer reading program and letting people know in their own neighborhoods that summer Reading was still happening. You could still, uh, do things with the library online and that there was still reading to be done over the summer. [00:06:09.24] spk_0:
Give us a little depth what was what was a one or two examples of what you, what you devised. [00:07:45.64] spk_1:
Yeah. So it was actually kind of an interesting time because I was redeployed to the Emergency Operations Center for Multnomah County at that time. So I got kind of pulled in at the very last minute, um, to start this up with a number of staff at the library who’d been working on this. And so they had already put together some ideas for activities that the kids could do from home. And it’s, you know, of course you think about social media, Right? But a lot of our volunteers are under 13. They’re not really using social media. It’s their parents, their older siblings who are doing it. So we really wanted to focus on things that they could do that would be just for them. So like things like doing chalk drawings in their neighborhoods, in any language that they speak. Um, we knew that we ended up having about 220 230 volunteers doing this from home, and 48% of them were fluent in another language besides english. And I think we had 14 other languages represented. So they were doing chalk drawings, um, and saying summer reading, sign up online or making signs and distributing them to their neighbors or doing pop up stands where they would have the summer reading game board and different materials with them that they would set up in a park. One person set up at a farmer’s market. And these were things, I was not saying, hey, here’s the contact person at the farmers market. They were doing it. These were the teens leading these activities and of course we were giving them ideas and and things like that. But really the success was because the teens had been given that, that, that authority over what they got to do. So they got to choose what activities they got to do. And that was really way more fun than us Just saying, here do this. [00:07:52.84] spk_0:
You’re a teenager at heart. I love that [00:07:55.44] spk_1:
you [00:07:56.37] spk_0:
trusted them and they didn’t let you down. It’s great. And you can, you give them absolutely some basics and sent them off. Excellent [00:08:06.21] spk_1:
Karina. How about, uh, let’s say sorry. We also provided them with the materials to do the activities. So we didn’t just say, oh, we assume that you have all these art supplies at home because you may not. So we provided the supplies to do those things as well. Okay, [00:08:21.34] spk_0:
Guerena, what’s the story at uh, in play now? [00:09:15.74] spk_2:
Yeah. So when Covid hit, I was in the exact same situation like Lizza, everything got turned off and I felt like our adult program, you know, our adult volunteers were kind of somewhat prepared for what they needed to do, um, for their families and in their workplaces. But I was very worried about the teens, how they were going to react being cut off from our summer of service program. So I really wanted to create something specifically 14 volunteers. We usually have 300 to 3 50 in our program and they’re doing things at the library similar to what Lissa was talking about. But we also have them out at summer camps, especially events, a lot of in person social interaction. So I created a bingo style game, just the classic bingo board. The P and plano is really big. It’s our, it’s our icon at the city. So I called it ping go. Um, each [00:09:22.32] spk_0:
you messed with, You messed with, You messed with the tradition of bingo. [00:09:26.57] spk_2:
I did. We [00:09:36.84] spk_0:
deserve it. That’s pretty gutsy. Well it’s been with us for hundreds of years. I don’t know, maybe thousands of years. People blame bingo. And then in plano you call it bingo. Yeah, that’s all right. When he [00:09:37.94] spk_2:
really turned a lot of stuff upside down. [00:09:40.22] spk_0:
Okay. Now what in Portland do you call Portland? In Portland? You call bingo bingo in Portland, [00:09:45.94] spk_1:
you know, yet to be yet to be determined. I was so inspired by Karina’s program that we’re actually looking at adapting that for our summer reading program this year to say that we’re going to have um you know, one of the activities be a bingo board but we haven’t decided on branding yet. We need to consult with our marketing manager. [00:10:06.84] spk_0:
All rights gutsy. Alright, bingo. You said the P. in plano is big. You know, I don’t know that. I mean, I didn’t know that. [00:10:12.78] spk_2:
Yeah, it’s an iconic P. [00:10:14.70] spk_0:
It’s important. All right. It’s important that words start with P and Plano, is it Okay? All right. All right. So please go ahead Karina. [00:10:56.04] spk_2:
So I, you know, I used the squares in our bingo board who provides safe at home activities for the teens. They could earn service hours by completing the game board. Um, it also allowed me to leverage many of the partnerships I have built over many years at my program by reaching out to other departments, other organizations and, you know, asking for an activity that I could put on my board. It got people’s interest. They were happy to see something positive going on during that time. And then in our third and final month, I had all the teams submit their own ping go ideas. And our last board was completely uh, selected by the volunteers. [00:14:54.84] spk_0:
It’s time for a break. Turn to Communications, the Chronicle of philanthropy, the new york Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today stanford Social Innovation review, the Washington post, the Hill Cranes, nonprofit quarterly Forbes, Market Watch, goodness gracious. That’s where turn to clients have gotten exposure. You want that kind of exposure. You want that kind of press turn to has the relationships to get it for you. Turn hyphen two dot C o. Your story is their mission. It’s time for Tony Take two. Sometimes I miss the new york city studio days. Remember SAm SAM at the board, Help me out with the uh, with the live listener love. He would uh, check the check the I. P. Addresses of everybody listening live and tell me the cities and states and countries. Um and I’m thinking about this especially because next week is an anniversary show tease. Uh and that was very special on the anniversary shows. You know, every july we would get everyone together, scott stein brings his, would bring his keyboard and Claire Meyerhoff was there and we’d get some other folks sometimes to drop in. It was just great fun. So there are times when I missed the studio days uh and the live stream that went along with that overall, I’m much happier producing the show the way we do now. But there are moments of angst when I I missed those new york city studio days, so just letting you know, I haven’t forgotten SAm and the studio, The studios, we were in three different ones. We started on West 72nd Street, then we move to west 76 I think, much further west. And then the last one where he still is now is on West 33rd I think it is maybe 32 good italian restaurant down the street. Uh if it’s still there cafe nana, cafe nana. If you’re in new york city, can you tell Sam lives on the west side. He only has Sam lives on the west side. So he picks all the studios that are with either within walking distance of his apartment or easy commute by subway. Don’t need to go over to the east side. Sam Liebowitz. All right, That is Tony’s take two send in blue. It’s an all in one digital marketing platform with tools to build end to end digital campaigns that look professional are affordable and keep you organized for goodness sake. They do digital campaign marketing. Most marketing software is designed for big companies and has that enterprise level price tag send in blue is priced for nonprofits. It’s an easy to use marketing platform that walks you through the steps of building a campaign to try out sending blue and get a free month. Hit the listener landing page at tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant in blue. We’ve got but loads more time for your fun volunteer program. Give us a little flavor of some of the board theme, the ping go board themes. [00:15:35.94] spk_2:
Yeah. So we partnered with the police Department and had a section of safety minute videos. The teens could watch and learn some safety tips from the police Department, similar with our fire department, checking out some tours of the fire stations and learning about what the fire department does. The census was going on. So encouraging their family to complete their census was a square going out and getting exercise doing uh outdoor social distance scavenger hunt with our museum calling or zooming with the relative to say hi, okay. [00:16:00.64] spk_0:
You brought in the the institutions of Plano, Cultural Law enforcement fire. Cool. Alright. Alright. So we’ve got you you each have some takeaways that that folks can used in. Mhm. Creating their own volunteers activities. Right? So what what the coroner? Let’s stay with you. What what what what are some lessons learned here that folks non private media listeners can benefit from. [00:16:50.04] spk_2:
I think it’s great to be specific when creating engagement opportunities to narrow down your audience to create something just for teens or just for seniors or being very um specific in creating activities that would interest them and having at home options. I think going forward will be a bonus will be a plus. Not every child’s home has the same resources as their neighbor and being able to provide them with an engaging activity that connects them back to the community regardless of how many resources they have access to really strengthens that trust. [00:17:14.94] spk_0:
And I guess you could segment by other categories also besides age. I mean maybe section of the neighborhood that you live in or I don’t know school that you go to, depending on the size of your community, you know? Um, yeah. Whether you’re new to the, I don’t know, you don’t want to start dividing people like whether your native in the town or your or your, you’ve been lived here less than five years. Yeah. I don’t know. Maybe [00:17:43.54] spk_2:
I’ve seen other organizations. There was a food pantry, a senior living to hospitals from all over the US that took my idea and made their own boards and they made them as inclusive as they wanted or specific to their audiences they wanted. So people can get really creative when you give them an empty bingo board. Okay, [00:17:45.34] spk_0:
Lizza. You got something you can share for us. [00:18:53.14] spk_1:
Yeah. So one of the things that I started doing throughout last summer was asking our volunteers to send us pictures of them doing these activities or to send us pictures of just like their chalk drawings or their summer reading pop up stations. And then I took those photos and then put them into our weekly email newsletter that we were sending to the volunteers. So it created a kind of online feedback loop of hey here in a normal time, we would be able to see each other and we would see the things that we’re doing. But because we’re all spread out through throughout Multnomah County were not able to see that. And so being able to share that back helped to elevate the teens and their work and show them, Hey, your artwork that you did has made it into our official newsletter. And you know, for me, I’m just like, oh, that’s just such a simple thing for me to do. But for them, it’s a sense of validation that they created something that was then sent out to hundreds of people and it got included in our end of summer reading report. We used it on social media, you know, and of course we made sure to get permission and everything from, from folks. And that was just a really cool way to spread that. And 11 thing I got from a couple of teams, they were like, oh yeah, I don’t have social media, but I asked my dad to put this on his social media. And so it was just, you know, it created a kind of family experience. whereas before it would be kids coming to the library and their families aren’t really involved at all. And so this created a different kind of opportunity that we’re going to stick with this year. [00:19:39.24] spk_0:
Yeah, I was just gonna ask about the summer’s coming up. We’re recording in basically mid april. You’re already planning your summer reading program. Are you are you going to try to make it a hybrid or strictly virtual again or? Well I mean the activities weren’t all virtual but distanced I guess I should say distanced or how are you? How are you conceiving of it? [00:20:44.04] spk_1:
Yeah. So it’s funny you say that you know we must be planning, we started planning summer reading 2021 in September of 2020. So it’s basically a rolling programme for us. It takes so much planning and preparation and working with different organizations that we partner with and um, just planning everything for the next year’s theme. And so each summer reading each year there’s a theme. And so this year our theme is reading colors, your world. And so we have gotten teens to submit their own black and white drawings that are gonna be, I think one or two of them will be printed on the summer reading game boards. So of course, all of these things, you know, you have to backtrack, you can’t just say like, oh, we’ll have this by summer. No, we’re like getting these printed now. Um, and then all of the drawings that were not going to be on the game board, we’re putting them into a coloring book. And so the coloring book will be put together by the library, but then distributed to all of our patrons that are coming into place. So it’s not just, you know, an insular volunteer program of only volunteers get this. No, this is this is everybody can get this. And so yeah, we are going to be opening up recruitment in actually next week for summer reading volunteers and um, really focusing on what volunteers can do in that the two months between when we start recruiting and when summer reading actually starts, um, which is mid june. And so we’re going to have zoom backgrounds that they can use for their classes. Their online classes. We’re going to have, um, we’re going to have them submit ideas for bingo boards. So that was the idea that we are borrowing from Corinna. And so we’re going to ask them, you know, in these two months because we have some really excited volunteers and they just want to get started right away. So, um, so yeah, so we’re almost like doing this pre planning this pre volunteer program for the two months between and one of the things I’m working on [00:22:15.34] spk_0:
itself is a valuable take away. You know, think about something to engage folks from the time they sign up to the time your program formally starts. If you’ve got like you’re saying two months, you know, people are going to maybe lose interest. You know, you want to keep them engaged to get them and start their engagement before the thing actually formally starts. So, alright, another committee. You got another valuable takeaway. I want listeners to to pick your brain to get the best of your brains. [00:22:52.94] spk_2:
Yeah, I definitely was not planning in september Yeah. For a summer. Um, but I think just having communication with your volunteers, we surveyed, um, are teens at the end of our summer game. Got their feedback if they wanted this again, even if we were in person or not. So we’re still kind of weighing options and figuring out what we’re going to do. But I expect ping, go to return and hopefully be more interactive now that in texas we are open and having some more opportunities for people to socially distance get together. [00:23:10.04] spk_0:
Okay. All right. So advice their, keep in touch, keep in touch with folks throughout the year. Even if it’s just lisa, I’m sure you do that. I’m sorry, Liz, I’m sure you do the same. You know, you’re in touch with your summer volunteers throughout the year. You must be right, [00:23:50.74] spk_1:
definitely. Yeah. We have other volunteer opportunities to that. Some of them volunteer year round. We have virtual team councils. And so those are things that they’re gathering every other week or sometimes monthly, depending on which council that they’re part of. And so they’re continuously engaged or we’re asking them, hey, you know, you participated in summer reading last year were planning and we want to know what you think about this. So we’re regularly checking in with them and then of course they get folded into our regular volunteer pool and get our monthly newsletter to find out what’s happening at the library and, and our status because we’re not currently open to the public except for curbside pickup. So, um, so definitely engaging them not just as volunteers who do things for us, but as community advocates and people who care a lot about what we do. [00:24:07.84] spk_0:
Any more. Any more takeaways, the lessons that we should learn from your either of your experiences about our own activities. Volunteer activities. [00:24:38.44] spk_2:
I would just encourage people not to be afraid to try something new to be creative to pilot. an idea. It brings joy to people and people want positive, happy fun things going on. Even if it’s a tough year, it still resonates with a lot of, of families and that connection is just really strong. So don’t be afraid to be creative. [00:25:11.94] spk_0:
Yeah. How about we leave it there? It sounds good. Right? That’s that’s great. Parting words. All right. They’re both CVS certified volunteer administrators. Did I get that right? Volunteer administrators. All right. And they are Eliza dire at um, multnomah County Library. She’s volunteer engagement coordinator and Karina Sadler. Volunteer resources supervisor for the city of Plano for volunteers in Plano. And Lizza Karina, thank you very much. [00:25:14.74] spk_1:
Thank you so much. tony [00:27:24.34] spk_0:
My pleasure. My pleasure. Thank you and welcome and thank you not welcome. We’re wrapping up. We’re not welcoming. We’re thanking you. I’m thanking you for being with tony-martignetti non profit radio coverage of 21 ntc where we are sponsored by Turn to communications turn hyphen two dot C O. That’s it. Short show this week. It’s a quickie a drive by a wink without the nod, a shake of flash. If I keep this up, it won’t be a short show, A new york minute, two shakes of a lamb’s tell blink of an eye, A jiffy a hot minute Next week It’s the 550th show, our 11th anniversary. Who How many podcasts do you know that are 11 years old and produced 550 episodes and abdominal to boot. Claire Meyer off will co host, will have live music from scott Stein, our contributors, our sponsors and guest awards. Would you care to guess what the awards are called if you missed any part of this week’s show? I beseech you find it at tony-martignetti dot com. Re sponsored by Turn to communications pr and content for nonprofits. Your story is their mission turn hyphen two dot c o. And by sending Blue, the only all in one digital marketing platform empowering non profits to grow. tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant in Blue, our creative producer is clear. Meyerhoff shows, social media is by Susan Chavez. Mark Silverman is our web guy and this music is by scott Stein. Thank you for that information scotty, You’re with me next week for nonprofit radio for the 550th show. Big non profit ideas for the other 95% go out and be great. Mhm Yeah.