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person on a bridge near a lake

Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

Happy New Year!

It’s time for resolutions, optimism and time to drop the pounds from all the volunteer homemade goodies, including Anna’s cheese blintzes scarfed down during full stressed-out mode.

Ahhhh, the new year. It’s full of hope. We seldom hope for a year that’s exactly like the one we just completed, right? Instead, we hope for a better year. So, do we look forward or backward or both ways?

Actually, we can do both and connect the past year with a better future. Looking back can be so much more than feeling good or bad about the year. It can be extremely instructive.

Looking back to move forward gives us an action plan, one that ensures a brighter 2019.

Begin by looking back at accomplishments to formulate a plan to continue those accomplishments. Then build upon methods to expand accomplishments in 2019. What went right? What is the blueprint? For example:

  • Last year, hours by volunteers who were trained to interact with clients increased from the previous year by 10%: So, for 2019, I will fortify and increase training. And for a new accomplishment, I will create a training that can be introduced to increase hours in other areas.
  • Last year, advocating for more resources produced a recruitment budget increase: So, for 2019, I will hone that method of advocating and for a new accomplishment, present supporting statistics to ask for more resources in other areas.
  • Last year, several highly skilled volunteers were recruited through networking: So, for 2019, I will continue networking opportunities and for a new accomplishment, I will look for new networking opportunities to find other volunteer skills.

On the flip side, what disappointing things happened? Instead of trying to forget about these instances, analyze them because they can also be valuable in planning for the coming year. It may take longer and you may have to dig deeper to find causes, but there are reasons for the disappointment. What went wrong? What is the blueprint for avoiding something similar? Unlike accomplishments, disappointments will take more effort to root out the cause (without assigning blame) and more work to change future outcomes. For example:

  • The volunteer appreciation event was kind of lame. Volunteers were once again not properly recognized: For 2019, how can I better show the value of volunteer contributions? How can I set a tone for sincere recognition?
  • Our huge donor gala was a gigantic headache. Last minute volunteer requests and changes to requests kept me scrambling: For 2019, what systems or ground rules can I put into place to avoid this in the future? (For my take on setting ground rules, see Volunteer Department Ground Rules and the follow-up Attention: The Volunteer Department Now Has Ground Rules.)
  • Senior management dropped a new “role” for volunteers onto my lap because we are cutting back. New tasks or jobs for volunteers are created without consulting me for any input: For 2019, how can I educate administration on volunteer engagement? How can I present volunteer feedback that shows volunteers want meaningful experiences?

It’s nice to hope that 2019 will be a better year but we can take control of that hope and create blueprints to ensure it will be a better year. By looking back at accomplishments to continue the momentum and looking back at disappointments to formulate a change strategy, we will move our programs forward into the year we wish to see.

Here’s to 2019 and a lot more hope control!