September 2015
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At AJFCA, we often reflect on how the work of our agencies is grounded in Jewish values.  And with all the potential days of closure in the coming weeks, it's hard to ignore this connection. Each year, as a Jewish communal professional, this season seems to unfold in a similar fashion. The High Holidays seem both to loom on the horizon the entire summer - and creep up on us all of a sudden, like the pumpkin spice latte.  Could someone tell Starbucks I'm not ready for that yet!?! 

In all seriousness, the Jewish faith has a really lovely built-in practice to prepare one for the holidays. The entire month of Elul (which started mid-August this year) is a designated time of reflection leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, giving Jews the opportunity to reflect on the past year and seek any forgiveness. According to Jewish tradition, one must ask individuals for forgiveness for any transgressions against them before being allowed forgiveness by G-d. Many in the community choose to use this time to look inward, and some take on an added layer of practice by connecting with others to engage in dialogue around these themes.  (if you're looking for some interesting models of this, I recommend #BlogElul and #Elulgram and this beautiful high holiday edition of Sh'ma on Possibility)

Whether or not you are interested in exploring these concepts for religious reasons, translating this practice to the work setting could be a huge benefit for any field.  Look 
back on your accomplishments from the past year.  Take the time to think about or discuss some of the things you would like to improve upon or do better in the year to come. Set goals for yourself and your department.

With that in mind I invite you to dive into this newsletter and explore the resources I've gathered to highlight.  Start a lively conversation with your peers in our new facebook group.  Sign up for a webinar to jumpstart your learning for the year.  Whatever you choose to devote your time to in the coming weeks - make sure it's something you'll reflect upon next fall without regret!
Director of Volunteer Strategy & Repair the World Programming
Volunteer Professional Community of Practice Call
Next call:
Wednesday, October 14, 2015 - 2 pm EDT

Engaging Young Adults in Service with Holocaust Survivors
Elana Premack Sandler, Director of Volunteer Engagement
Rabbi James Kahn, Director of Jewish Engagement and Chaplaincy; 
Adrienne Ognibene, Volunteer Coordinator
Elana, Rabbi James, and Adrienne from JSSA (Jewish Social Service Agency), in Rockville, MD (just outside of DC) will help guide a conversation about ways young adults can connect with Holocaust Survivors through service. They will share examples from their work and invite you to share your experiences, successes, and challenges. JSSA has discovered that young adults are yearning to connect meaningfully with Holocaust Survivors, and has faced challenges in designing programs that fit the needs of both young adults looking for short-term, feel-good volunteer opportunities and the Holocaust Survivors who are JSSA clients: frail, elderly, and often not English-speaking. Join this call if you would like to help your colleagues strategize for bringing together these two special populations!
We will discuss:
  • JSSA's goals for engaging young professionals (and would love to hear from you about your agency goals in engaging YPs)
  • challenges involved with identifying client needs that can be met effectively by volunteers  
  • our current program, "Rent-a-Mensch"

AJFCA's quarterly Volunteer Professional Community of Practice calls for you all to share with one another and learn about topics of interest. 
The format is as follows:
  • A volunteer professional from one of our member agencies will volunteer to speak a bit about their experience with a given topic.
  • We will then open up the call for all to share their experiences with the topic. 
  • The professional will also act as the moderator to help facilitate the open conversation.
Please email Jennie if you have an idea for a topic you'd like covered on a future call, or you'd like to volunteer to lead a call. We are planning these calls based on your interests.
8 Interesting Podcasts and 5 Books (not about #volunteerism)

Tobi Johnson shares her favorite professional development resources for volunteer professionals via her "summer listening/reading list".  I actually checked out her #1 book recommendation from the library at the start of the summer and found it to be a humbling and refreshing take on the art of asking. 

Do any of you have recommendations for books or podcasts that inspire your work?

AJFCA Launching Facebook Discussion Group for YOU!  
Jennie was recently on a call with Allison Fine, a successful social entrepreneur and writer dedicated to helping grassroots organizations and activists successfully implement social change efforts, and was able to pick her brain on how to best connect our members for online networking & sharing of resources.  Her advice was pretty straightforward: "reach them where they are."  
While we know we won't reach everyone with this group, we've decided to go ahead and create a closed facebook group designed to provide a forum for vibrant discussion and the exchange of information amongst AJFCA member agency professionals that will benefit the work of our network. As a closed group, only members will be able to view the contents of participant posts. The group will also feature a section for photos and files, to which anyone can upload resources to share.  There is also a search function which will lead to easy access to all information accumulated. To join the Volunteer Professionals group, use this link. More groups will be launched for other areas of focus; please reach out to Jennie if there is a specific group you'd like to see created.
2016 AJFCA Annual Conference Request for Proposals due Sept. 18

Our next AJFCA Annual Conference will take place in San Diego, CA May 15-17, 2016. 

The Volunteer/Young Adult Engagement track will focus on real life experiences and lessons learned from agencies who have pursued meaningful volunteer and/or young adult engagement. Sessions should be geared to address not only volunteer professionals, but a wider audience as well, including CEOs, executive management, lay leaders and volunteers.
Suggested topic areas include:
  • How to collaborate with other agencies in your community working towards the same goal of engaging young adults
  • Engaging the recently retired boomer generation in both skilled & unskilled volunteer roles
  • Core competencies for volunteer engagement: innovative ways to engage, acknowledge and sustain volunteers in the work of the agency
  • Providing a Jewish values framework for volunteer opportunities - putting values into action
  • Metrics/evaluating the impact of a volunteer program - return on investment (ROI)
  • Understanding the unique qualities of Millennials vs. other generations
  • Strategies for identifying promising leaders amongst your volunteer base - creating a pipeline to leadership positions and/or donor engagement
Prior to submitting, please carefully review the RFP Guidelines. This document contains important information on the Conference and detailed guidelines for each of the areas of focus.  Please complete your Workshop Proposal Form no later than September 18, 2015. 

Feel free to call Jennie to talk through a proposal. AJFCA needs your great ideas to make this next conference a success!

The Simplest Way to Get - and Stay - Happy

"When was the last time you felt a light-hearted awareness where you had a skip in your step, care-free grin on your face, and overwhelming sense that despite what happened, everything was going to work out? In other words, when was the last time you were truly happy?" 
For Millennials Inclusion Goes Beyond Checking Traditional Boxes

"Diversity is no longer about race, gender, and ethnicity, instead millennials are demanding that leaders foster inclusive cultures by building teams made up of people with the diverse opinions, experiences, and backgrounds necessary to achieve desired outcomes."
Click here to read the full article in EJP.  The new study they reference, "The Radical Transformation of Diversity and Inclusion: The Millennial Influence" by Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, is also worth paging through; there are many quick-reading infographics on the website if you want the basics, along with an opportunity to download the full report. 
Volunteers, a Critical Ingredient in the Banh Mi of Social Justice
This article compares elements of a non-profit to Vietnamese street food.  If you are scratching your head, I welcome you to read the article and see - it really does make sense!  The writer is a tiny bit irreverent and off-the-cuff (the official blog title is Nonprofit with Balls, meant to be taken several different ways), but the message is a good one.

"We call and write handwritten notes to donors, profusely thanking them for their donations, and yet-and I myself am guilty of this-we often neglect volunteers who consistently devote hours of their time each month to our organizations." 

Click here to read the full blog post by Vu Le - a writer, speaker, vegan, Pisces, and the Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps, a nonprofit in Seattle with the mission of developing and supporting leaders of color to strengthen the capacity of communities-of-color-led nonprofits and foster collaboration between diverse communities to effect systemic change. 
Resources from Verified Volunteers 
Verified Volunteers is the only background check platform tailored to the specific needs of the service sector and the first online community to mobilize repeat, vetted volunteers. We believe this platform has the potential to dramatically transform volunteer screening for the better for AJFCA member agencies throughout the United States and Canada.
It's Budget Season: Is Your Volunteer Program Ready?

Thursday, September 17 at 2PM ET/11AM PT

Presenter: Executive Director of HandsOn Northwest North Carolina

Funding for volunteer programs is often at the mercy of higher-level managers, directors, and board members. You know which resources you need to build and maintain an effective and impactful volunteer program, but how do you make a compelling case to those who control the budget?
In this webinar, you'll learn how to effectively measure and report on the financial and non-financial impact of your program, to show a return on investment (ROI) that matters. You will get a firm understanding of:
  • How you can increase the transparency, accountability, innovation, and credibility of your volunteer program - and how doing so will benefit you and your program.
  • How the proper investments in volunteer infrastructure increase cost-savings, client service capacity, efficiencies, and visibility - and help you build a stronger potential donor base.
  • The downsides of not making the right investment in nonprofit volunteer programs.
Check it out and register here.

Verified has also prepared a quiz called Are You Ready to Plan Your Volunteer Program Budget?. It asks a few short Yes or No questions to determine whether the taker is a budget genius or could maybe use a little guidance.

Your Top Volunteer Program Risk Management Questions
William Henry, Executive Director of Volunteers Insurance Service Association, recently presented Risk Management for Your Volunteer Program: Get a Plan, a webinar that took a deep dive into creating and implementing an effective risk management program for your volunteer organization. The session generated a number of questions from attendees. Here are a few, along with William's responses.

Volunteer Screening: Rescreening Best Practices
Volunteer managers, executive directors, and board members ask Verified all the time how often their volunteers should be rescreened. They want to know what best practices they need to follow in order to feel confident that their staff, volunteers, constituents, and communities are safe. Here's what they recommend.

Volunteer Screening: The Interview
You are convinced that a criminal background check is an essential component of the volunteer screening process. And it's pretty cut and dried - you have the volunteer order their background check, you are alerted when the background check is complete, you review it and - based on the results returned - you determine whether a volunteer is eligible to work with your organization or not. But what about the volunteer candidate interview? Are you conducting one for each and every volunteer? Learn why you should.
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A Different Kind of High Holiday Service
This High Holiday season Repair the World is inviting folks to do "service" a little differently.

Instead of, or in addition to, attending High Holiday Services, Repair the World is empowering individuals to DO High Holiday Service. AJFCA invites you to share in inspiring service to bring about food justice this fall, in one or ALL of the following ways:  

Be Aware. Learn about what food justice is, or show off your knowledge. Then, encourage others to do the same with this Food Justice Quiz >>

Speak Up. Food justice is an issue that affects everyone, everywhere. Turn the Tables, a project by Repair the World and nourished by OneTable, wants to help make your Shabbat and High Holidays even more meaningful by giving you the tools to host an important discussion about food justice. We'll provide a thoughtful resource with interactive activities that get you and your dinner guests talking about food justice in a way that reveals the many facets of this complicated issue. Learn more and sign up to speak up >>

Take Action. There are two great ways to get out there and take action to bring about food justice with Repair the World.Find a food justice volunteer project happening in your area and sign up >>

Born leader? Don't see anything happening in your area? Both? Sign up here to become a Repair the World Movement Leader >> 

Looking for more details on how a Volunteer Professional at an AJFCA member agency might get in on exciting national initiatives like this one?  Email Jennie for ideas on how you can partner with Repair to engage young people in service >>
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If this is your first time receiving this newsletter - check out our Volunteer Engagement homepage for more valuable resources, including an archive of past Volunteer E-Newsletters.