Maintaining momentum from SVW 2016
Posted on 29 Feb 2016
Student Volunteering Week 2016 has come to an end, but we know that 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 a one-off SVW event to you and your ongoing activities, 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 you all made 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, community partners, your college/university leadership, your local press and the SVW Team! Volunteers & partners will feel appreciated and encouraged to get involved again; you might pick up some follow-up press coverage; and it might spark conversations with college/university leadership about supporting future volunteering activities.
4. Use your impact measurement to inform your plan of action
Hopefully if you gathered information about and feedback from the people who took part in SVW, 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 2017. 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 2017 (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 great 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…
- This week we're sending a follow-up email and thorough online evaluation to all teams who registered for SVW. We'll use the feedback in our impact reports and to shape SVW 2017.
- 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 demonstrate the value of the campaign as well as identifying areas that we want to improve or expand for SVW 2017.
- 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. Get in touch if you’d like to blog.
If you've got other suggestions for what we could be doing, let us know!