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TO THE FUTURE of Volunteering...with Gordon Oldfield and trusty Ernie McFly

The Future of Volunteering

With Gordon Oldfield and trusty Ernie McFly…

Volunteer Nelson had the privilege to join other volunteer centres and representatives of volunteer-involving organisations from around New Zealand at the annual Pivot Conference hosted by Volunteer New Zealand in Christchurch on 29 October. Holly, Gordon and Ernie give their impressions!

The Conference is New Zealand’s leading professional development initiative for the volunteering sector. In addition to the inspiring range of International and New Zealand speakers, the conference also delivered the latest information on the volunteering landscape and the outlook for the future. Content ranged from sustainable volunteer involvement, best practice in volunteer management, engagement with a diverse volunteer base and creating messages that resonate with wide audiences. Three Volunteer Nelson colleagues (and Ernie; Gordon’s guide-dog) each had an opportunity to attend.

Holly touched by transformational nature of volunteering

Holly Drummond had this to say of her experience: “It was great to reconnect with other volunteer centre workers around the country and to progress conversations and work we are doing together to develop our systems and processes. The venue was spacious and it had a great atmosphere which made networking warm and welcoming.

“There were so many highlights for me,” says Holly.  “Andy Fryer from Better Impact, spoke about the human things you deal with as a manager of volunteers, like when they experience the real things that happen in life. Chris Jarvis, co-founder of Realized Worth, spoke about corporate citizenship as a powerful mechanism to address the critical social and environmental issues facing our global society.

“What this means,” explains Holly, “is that volunteering can have a profound effect on how we see and interact with society (and our environment). From volunteering and our interaction with life being viewed or used as a transactional experience where we give and receive, it can become transformational – where it changes how we perceive ourselves in the world (psychology), what we believe to be true e.g. biases or preconceptions (our convictions) and how we act in the world (our behaviours).

While Holly attended a session by Christine Stankowski from Flutterbye who gave some good tips on improving volunteering programmes, our Volunteer Nelson manager, Gordon Oldfield attended The Infinite Game, presented by Niki Harre from the University of Auckland.

Playing matters more than winning…

In her book, The Infinite Game: How to Live Well, Niki Harre asks the question: What if we are all part of a different type of game entirely – a game in which playing matters more than winning, a game that anyone can join at any time, a game in which rules evolve as new players turn up – an infinite game?

“Niki used her background in community psychology to explain the difference in work that we do to benefit the community as opposed to work that just benefits ourselves,” says Gordon. “She used the analogy of comparing a game of beach cricket in which everyone wants the game to continue whereas a test game works to find a winner.”

Niki’s book is available at the Nelson Library.

Diversity in volunteering

 At Pivot, Gordon had the privilege of co-leading a panel discussion on removing the barriers to diversity, with two impressive ladies, Janice Lee, Founder of Koha Kai and Tamatha Paul, the newly elected President of the student association of Victoria University in Wellington.

“We were asked really good questions,” says Gordon. “A key question that stood out for me was how we can increase diversity amongst volunteers. My answer to this is to not try to fit a person into a role, but to rather build a role around the person.”

Gordon also said that he enjoyed the governance workshop that was presented by Kerry Tilby-Price of Exult, “I’m looking forward to the workshop she will be presenting for Volunteer Nelson at Trafalgar Pavilion on 28 November entitled Growing Great Volunteer Teams. Whether you manage one volunteer or many, you are welcome to join us. Read more about the event here

Passion, enthusiasm and commitment

“Everyone at the conference is passionate about their organisation and the community sector and it feels good to be around people who are enthusiastic about what they do,” says Gordon. “I especially enjoyed the presentation stories by the Trust Power award winners. Mount Edgecumbe Firefighters not only helped the community during the fierce February storms, but did so at the expense of their own homes being flooded. That shows amazing selfless commitment!” Gordon added that he was blown away by South Alive, an urban rejuvenation project led by the community of South Invercargill. He also commends Volunteering NZ for an extremely well-organised, and smooth-flowing conference.

Our fourth member of staff – Ernie the guide dog…

 Ernie, Gordon’s guide dog travelled to the conference with the team, and because of his essential duty, Ernie gets to travel in the cabin with Gordon. “He is a very chilled traveller and has collected quite a number of dog-air miles,” says Gordon who also thanks Air New Zealand who are terrific at accommodating Ernie.

Read more about what we do at Volunteer Nelson on our @Volunteernelson facebook page.

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