5 ways to maintain the momentum of SVW
Posted on 27 Feb 2015
While Student Volunteering Week 2015 technically ends on 1 March, its impact can and should continue for the rest of the academic year and beyond! We've got 5 tips to make that happen at your college or university…
1. Make sure there's a clear 'next step' for everyone who took part in an event or activity
People might not automatically connect an SVW event to your wider volunteering department, and they might not realise what else is on offer for the rest of the year. So it's up to you to offer them options for their next step so that they can fill in the gap in the image above.
Whatever next steps you decide to offer to someone, make sure they're clear, engaging, and within a specific time frame if necessary.
Some of the next steps might be simple and straightforward: e.g. signing up to a mailing list or visiting the website of the charity that they volunteered with.
On the other hand, you might need to create some potential next steps: e.g. organising an info session to promote your ongoing opportunities, organising a social event 2 weeks after SVW, or arranging for them to try one of your ongoing projects.
2. Follow up with volunteers and community partners
There's nothing worse than having an amazing first date then never hearing from the other person again. So don't do the slow fade… be proactive about getting in touch and put yourself in their shoes - what kind of communications would you want to receive after attending or hosting an event? We recommend a personal email (don't bcc 20 volunteers into the same email!) that has a friendly tone and a clear ask (see our first point!).
3. Communicate the positive impact that they were part of during the week
You've got a folder of fantastic photos from an event, a stack of completed feedback forms, and a lovely email from the charity that your volunteers helped. Instead of archiving all of that information, share it with volunteers and community partners! Reminding people about the positive impact that they were part of during SVW is a wonderful way to recognise them and encourage them to get involved again.
4. Use your impact measurement to inform your plan of action
If you followed our impact measurement guidance, you'll have so much useful information about how many attendees had never volunteered before, what they enjoyed about an event/activity, what they didn't enjoy, how they heard about it, and if they felt inspired to volunteer again.
You can use that information to shape future activities this year, and of course SVW 2016. If attendees got lost on the way to an event, you'll know to provide clear directions next time, or arrange for everyone to travel to an event together. If none of your attendees were new to volunteering, you know that you've got to try some new publicity methods to reach students who don't already volunteer.
All of these learnings should be captured in an evaluation/handover document so that whoever supports SVW 2016 (whether that's you or someone else) can hit the ground running.
5. Set goals now
Almost all of us need goals and targets to get stuff done, and maintaining momentum after SVW is no different. Once you've decided your post-SVW plan, set goals and give yourself a clear timeframe to accomplish those.
Set goals that suit your overall aims in your team or department. That might mean 100 new newsletter signups, or 25% of SVW event attendees volunteering again before the end of the year, or 2 reunion socials for SVW volunteers, or a 10% increase in nominations for your internal volunteer awards, or 3 lovely case studies of SVW activities published on your website.
Whatever your goals, make them SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound).
And to make sure we're practicing what we preach, here's what the national SVW team is doing to maintain momentum…
- We've prepped a follow-up email and thorough online evaluation for all volunteering staff to complete within 3 weeks. We'll be emailing this to everyone on Monday and we'll use the feedback in our impact reports and to shape SVW 2016.
- We're also hosting smaller focus groups to get feedback on specific areas of the campaign.
- We will create an impact report to share with partners, funders and all of you! That report should prove the value of the campaign as well as identifying areas that we want to improve or expand for SVW 2016.
- We're going to keep the blog alive as a valuable resource for sharing volunteering stories, best practice, sector news and updates from the SVW team. We'll be encouraging you all to contribute.
- If you've got other suggestions for what we could be doing, let us know!