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Getting ready for SVW: Part 2: Brainstorming!

Posted on 19 Dec 2014

This is Part 2 of a series on how to prepare for Student Volunteering Week 2015. We’ll be exploring everything from setting your aims to writing a press release over the next 8 weeks.

Other posts in this series: Part 1

Brainstorming is a great way to get your creative juices flowing and to think outside the box about what you could do during SVW 2015.

Top tip: Ideally you should get everyone together who's involved in planning SVW - staff, students, committee members, current volunteers etc., all in the same room. Going to a fresh location can help, e.g. off campus, and we suggest that you go technology-free!

How to start

1. Every good brainstorming session starts with a clear aim that you're trying to achieve. Here a few examples for SVW:

  • celebrate our existing volunteers
  • raise awareness of our five student-led projects that are currently low on volunteers
  • inspire more postgraduate students to get involved

2. Pick an aim, any aim.

3. Pick a brainstorming method from the list below. You can try one, two or all of them!

Top tip: For every brainstorming method, you've got to remember the golden brainstorming rules: no judgment, no criticism, encourage every idea, and quantity is more important the quality!

Method 1: Classic

  • Display your aim somewhere visible and get a stack of post-it notes ready
  • Ask "what could we do to achieve that aim?"
  • Write down one idea per post-it note

Method 2: What if…?

  • Imagine that you're somebody else or in a different situation for a few minutes. What if you had no spending limit for SVW? What if you had absolutely no money at all? What if you were a famous footballer organising SVW? Or a band? How would you achieve your aim then?
  • Write down one idea per post-it note

Method 3: The anti-problem

  • Time to reverse your thinking, and brainstorm what definitely would NOT help you to achieve your aim.
  • For example, if you definitely didn't want to celebrate your existing volunteers, then you might choose to ignore all the students who already volunteer, exclude them from SVW planning, do all the publicity yourself, and never talk about the impact that volunteers already make in your community.
  • Once you've got a list of what wouldn't help you to achieve your aim, think of what the opposite of each of those things would be
  • For example, based on the list above: approach current volunteers and ask them what they'd like to do during SVW, recognise that current volunteers are often the best at inspiring their peers, write relevant press releases about the impact that your volunteers have made so far this year, and send a personalised thank you email to each volunteer.
  • Write down one idea per post-it note

Method 4: Random objects

  • Inspiration can come from the strangest places! Check out this random object generator and see if you can think of an idea linked to each object (click refresh on that page if you want some new ones!)
  • For example, we've just clicked refresh and one of the objects was a pavement. So maybe we could use pavement chalk to advertise our events all over campus, or ask students to share what volunteering means to them to create a big visual display.
  • Write down one idea per post-it note

Method 5: Time travel

  • How would someone living in 1900, or 1920, or 1950, or 1980 have celebrated SVW?
  • Write down one idea per post-it note

Next steps

So you've got all these ideas now (hopefully dozens if not hundreds of post-its!)

1. You can filter these down into different categories to help you decide which ones you'd like to turn into reality

2. One way of doing this is dividing your ideas into 3 columns: Excellent (easy to implement, no-brainer), Interesting (not quite sure how it would work but willing to investigate further), Useless (overly complicated, definitely not worth pursuing)

Our next post in the 'Getting Ready for SVW' series will look at turning your ideas into action, so make sure you check that out so that your ideas don't just remain on post-it notes!

The SVW Team

The national team from Student Hubs & NUS coordinate SVW activities for the nationwide campaign. Get into touch at info@studentvolunteeringweek.org.uk

Categories: Advice