I’ve been attending Points of Light Conference for over a decade meeting fellow nonprofit professionals, mingling with corporate social responsibility partners and hearing diverse perspectives and experiences that are shaping the future of volunteer and community engagement. Every year, I am excited to connect with new people, hear about innovative practices and be inspired by fellow attendees and presenters. Here are five recommendations that will not only help you make the most of conference but also help get your organization on its way to operating as a Service Enterprise.
Five Recommendations for Attending Conference
1. Sit by new people.
Whether you have been going for years or are a first timer, I challenge you to sit by a variety of individuals throughout the sessions you attend. Connect with them and ask what they are most excited about, the best session they attended or what they are inspired to do differently. If you want to learn more about them and their work, connect through the conference app or via LinkedIn.
2. Explore the vendors and connect with their customers.
To operate as a Service Enterprise and strategically leverage volunteers to meet community needs you must be efficient and effective at Recruitment & Cultivation, Onboarding, Training, Communication and Tracking & Evaluation. Many vendors can help you work smarter, not harder. Don’t just take the vendor’s word — often, you can connect with some of their customers to get firsthand reviews while at conference.
3. Listen for ways to gain buy-in and examples of LEADERSHIP INVOLVEMENT.
No one person will succeed doing volunteer and community engagement alone. A theme I have seen over the last decade is the most successful and impactful efforts have the support of the whole organization, not just the volunteer engagement staff. Learn from others’ successes and maybe even their failures.
4. Say thanks to the corporate partners.
At lunches and in the hallways, keep an eye out for corporate partners that represent your local companies. Make sure to share success stories of local efforts. If you don’t know any, I encourage you to ask how they would describe their ideal nonprofit partner or what they look for in a partnership. It is a great conversation starter and will help you connect with corporate partners in the future.
5. Bring it back.
Make sure to bring back what you learned and share it, not just with the volunteer engagement team but with a cross-functional team that will help lead Growth & Change at your organization. Connect with the presenters and let them know you are going to share what you learned. Sometimes they may even be able to help you.
6. BONUS! Stop by the AL!VE Booth.
Learn more about Service Enterprise, connect with volunteer engagement professionals across the country and get a ribbon to add to your badge.
I look forward to seeing you at the 2024 Points of Light Conference. Heck, maybe I’ll even get to sit by you. Until then, if y’all want to learn more about Service Enterprise and how AL!VE can help you leverage volunteers and their skills to meet community needs, connect with me on LinkedIn or at [email protected].