Reflections on 10 Years of Volunteer Resources Content  

I’ve been writing volunteer resources blog posts and creating content for over ten years, first here on my Tobi Johnson & Associates blog and then for the past five years on our VolunteerPro blog. 

Truth be told, my writing hasn’t always been consistent. Back in 2009, when I started TJA, I was pretty good at posting weekly. It’s wasn’t easy. Writing didn’t come naturally at first, and I spent a lot of time wringing my hands about what to write about that would be of value. 

But as time went on, I found my groove and began to understand how the needs of my audience reflected my own experiences as a past volunteer and nonprofit professional. In fact, many of our struggles are common and universal to our field, some for the good. Others not so much. 

 I expanded, and we experimented with new ways to share content through our Time + Talent podcast, I struggled to manage the competing priorities of my small business.  My VolunteerPro posts became primary, we got scrappy to produce a season of podcasts, and truth be told, my TJA website took a back seat for a spell. 

Now, I’m happy to say, we’re back in the saddle with our regular content production. While I’m often still caught writing on the days we are due to post, my team has been invaluable in editing and distributing what we have to share. 

 We now post weekly on both the TJA and VolPro blogs, have also just opened a VolunteerPro Insiders Group on Facebook, and continue to explore new ways to help our audience get results with their volunteer strategy. 

We’ve discontinued most of our one-off a-la-carte webinars, preferring to invite followers into a more immersive community of practice as well as a Volunteer Management Academy of online courses that offer a better experience for our learners. 

What’s never changed is the support we’ve received from our community of loyal readers and students. Once in a while, I’ll get an email from someone who was touched by something I’ve written or who found a strategy I’ve recommended helpful.   

It’s nice to receive these because then I know our work wasn’t in vain. 

My 9 Fave Volunteer Resources Posts of the Decade 

Recently, we completed a total refresh of our website.  It was long overdue and we’re pretty happy with the results. We also refreshed all of our blog posts, removing some that were out of date and updating some with better formatting. 

I thought I’d share a few of my favorite on volunteer resources that focus on skillbuilding and advocating for the field. 

#1: The Importance of Volunteerism and How to Advocate for Your Needs 

When people ask me what I do, I tell them I work in the world of volunteerism, helping a niche of a niche of a niche of a niche. In other words — a niche (organizations) of a niche (charities) of a niche (nonprofit staff) of a niche (leaders of volunteers). However, in a world where the importance of volunteerism is constantly questioned, most people aren’t aware of what that means. 


#2: Volunteer Sustainability Strategies You Need to Increase Capacity 

In the face of ever-growing community needs and persistent economic strains on nonprofits, volunteer sustainability isn’t just a nice thing. It’s a necessary thing. Yet…the word still isn’t out. 


#3: 7 Resources for Volunteer Coordinators That’ll Gain You Respect 

Building respect for volunteer programs means that volunteer program leaders must strategically and adeptly manage up and across.  No one gives away respect.  You have to earn it.  Here are a few tips on how to do just that. 


#4: Volunteer Leadership: An Effective Model You Need to Know 

Now, more than ever, volunteer administrators are called upon to strengthen their volunteer leadership skills. The ability to inspire and influence is critical to a volunteer coordinator’s success on the job. Whether they work with volunteers, community partners, executive management, or colleagues, a coordinator must have skills in place that will inspire action. 


#5: What is the Most Helpful Skill Volunteer Coordinators Need? 

Over the past ten years, I’ve had the honor and the privilege of helping build new volunteer coordinator skills and capacity. As a consultant and trainer focused on volunteer administration, one of my key roles is to challenge others to advance their approaches using best practices. But, which should I recommend? 


#6: Is Research on Volunteerism Disappearing? 

Is volunteerism of interest to academics? Is current and relevant research on volunteerism available? The short answer is, yes. The long answer is a little more complicated. 


#7: The Problem with Hidden Biases and a Strategy to Reduce Bias 

Have you ever been in a volunteer or board meeting where one person suggests a course of action and everyone just goes with it, without really questioning the viability of the solution? Conversely, have you ever been in a meeting where the group sees a need to discuss a decision until it is long dead and buried and refuses to decide until more “research” can be done? Frustrating, right? 


#8: Your Guide to Participatory Leadership for Better Engagement 

If you are struggling to find ways to motivate volunteers, or don’t seem to have enough “leader” volunteers available, consider renovating how you make decisions.  Try leading from within, rather than from the top, by using a participatory leadership model. 


#9: How to Lead Volunteers in Uncertainty: Your Important Work Ahead 

When we experience massive change, particularly when it’s unwelcome or unexpected, it may feel like the best thing to do is crawl under a rock and wait for the storm to pass. But, that couldn’t be any farther from the truth; especially when it comes to how to lead volunteers during times of change. 

During times of political upheaval, it is essential that nonprofits and public sector organizations reinforce their current network of support, seek to find new partners, and prepare to take the lead on advocating for their causes and communities. 


What Should We Write About in 2020? 

As we step into the new decade, what do you think we should cover in our blog and on our VolunteerPro Blog? 

What kind of volunteer resources, content and insights would be most helpful or entertaining? What trends are most important for our field? What pressing problems need a solution? 

Share your ideas in the comments below.