2020 hasn’t turned out as any of us expected. Just for a moment, imagine what you would say if you could magically travel back and provide some advice or pose questions to your January self… What would you ask? What advice might you give?

We have been asking ourselves that question at VQ Volunteer Strategies for quite some time… so we prepared our own lighthearted answer. Check it out (we hope you have a little laugh, then will read on).

A 2020 Time Machine for Leaders of Volunteers

While our current circumstances are certainly serious, a little bit of fun can provide a small break from the bigger challenges. But putting all chuckles aside, let’s look ahead.

Let’s imagine not just that we could go back and give our earlier selves advice, rather, let’s imagine that we could summon our future selves to visit us today. What advice might we receive from our “January 2021 self” or even our “Summer 2021”? What wisdom might that “future self” share that would position us and our organization well for next year, no matter how circumstances change or which new challenges arise?

While we can’t predict, we can harness all that we already know about change, strategy, and resilience to consider what would serve us well. Here are some of our initial thoughts – and we welcome yours.

  1. Innovation and Adaptability
    • What are you doing now to go beyond simply responding to current conditions and instead building in flexibility and adaptability? (For example, did you do a single needs assessment to create new ways for volunteers to serve or have you incorporated needs assessments as a regular part of your evaluations and program development?)
  2. Communication and Trust
    • What are you doing now to build trust with the volunteer community through clear, honest, and strategic communications? Are you making promises you don’t really know that you can keep? Or are you acknowledging uncertainties and sharing empathy for everyone’s struggles?
  3. Volunteer Impact
    • Are you tracking and measuring the contributions of volunteers in ways that are meaningful? How will those metrics demonstrate the impact that volunteers are driving even during this period when service delivery looks different than it did in 2019?
    • Are you communicating those impacts to all the right stakeholders (including leadership, partners, colleagues, volunteers, funders, and the community at large)?
  4. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility
    • How are you removing barriers to engagement and increasing accessibility to volunteering?
    • With whom are you partnering to actively enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion at your organization?
  5. Community
    • How are you helping to integrate new volunteers into the organizational community (among both paid and unpaid members of the workforce) so that you don’t end up with an “us vs. them” dichotomy among those who served prior to the pandemic and those who are able to serve now?
  6. Resilience
    • What are you doing to take care of yourself during these challenging times?

What else might your “future self” might be asking today if these time machines existed? Share your ideas.