A Volunteer Manager Spotlight Series
We’re highlighting your stories! We hope that these conversations can inspire fellow Volunteer Managers and continue to support volunteer programs nationwide.
For the second installment in our series, we interviewed Liz Miller, Partnerships Director for Love Out Loud. Liz sheds light on their program’s successes, volunteer management challenges in light of COVID-19, and secret strategies for optimizing the remainder of the year. Want to be featured in upcoming editions? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organization: Love Out Loud
Interviewee: Liz Miller
Role: Partnerships Director
About Love Out Loud:
Love Out Loud’s program serves Winston Salem by connecting “the many great efforts across our city, convening groups of like-minded leaders around shared causes, and accelerating the innovative ideas born out of collaboration and complex thinking.” By combining these initiatives, Love Out Loud “hopes to serve and strengthen local churches while fully engaging others working for the good of [their] city.”
Galaxy Digital: Outside of your day-to-day tasks and responsibilities, what does Volunteer Management mean to you?
Liz Miller says: “For us, Volunteer Management goes beyond just connecting volunteers with opportunities. We strongly feel that each individuals is uniquely programed and designed to be passionate about specific causes, people, and tasks. Volunteer management, or partnership, is where we can step in and help individuals or groups find their FIT in volunteering. We try our best to help individuals find Pathways into one of the many agencies doing great work in our community to partner in ways that are life-giving and meaningful to them – and transformational to both parties.
We also strongly believe that volunteers should have resources to learn more about the community before they dive into complex issues with race, mental health, trauma, and poverty interspersed – and work to direct individuals to resources to help them grow before engaging with organizations.”
GD: How has COVID-19 affected volunteerism at your organization, and how have you adapted to these challenges?
LM: “Though we are not typically a direct service agency, COVID19 has significantly affected the work we do. Throughout the pandemic we have been able to utilize the Get Connected platform and existing relationships to distribute hundreds of thousands of meals and over 75,000 free, high quality masks to individuals in low-income communities.
Though our work has always been highly relational, we’ve had to learn how to do that in new and innovative ways to continue to encourage engagement and help agencies receive the support they need. Much of our time on the front end was spent developing volunteer health protocols and assisting in the development of stay-at-home volunteer activities so we can best resource both partner agencies and individuals and continue to transform our community and systems, even amidst crisis.”
GD: What trends do you think will be important to the future of volunteerism?
LM: “The future of volunteerism depends on innovation and passion. Agencies will thrive if they are able to continue thinking of new ways to engage volunteers and individuals and continue living out their mission. Volunteers are also increasingly only engaging the things they are deeply passionate about – we all need to learn how to amplify the transformation in communities, engagement opportunities, and stories in order to encourage individuals to be involved in the great work happening in each of our communities.”
GD: What makes your volunteer program unique? Do you have a secret ingredient or strategy that you can share?
LM: “Our greatest success has been the relationships that we have developed. Love Out Loud says that we were built “one cup of coffee at a time” spending much of our time and energy getting to know the stories of agencies, individuals, and history in our community and being the maven of information in the social sector. The relational equity that exists helps us to know what organizations to partner with in certain areas, leadership to connect individuals with, and how to best encourage the silos that social sectors often have to be removed and for us all to see the commonality in our mission and work together.”
A big thanks to Liz Miller of Love Out Loud for sharing their volunteer management insight and expertise!