DOVIA: Leading the Leaders

Sacramento Region, CA  |  By Jacqueline Fox
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(L-R) Mariann Eitzman, volunteer coordinator, Bayside Church, Roseville, Rachele Doty, volunteer coordinator for First Call Hospice and vice chair, DOVIA, Sacramento, and Meredith Holkeboer, Volunteer Services Assistant/Pet Therapy Coordinator at Shriners Hospitals for Children, Sacramento, at a recent workshop lead by Eitzman on giving presentations. Photo by Jacqueline Fox

DOVIA Sacramento Supports Non-Profit Volunteer Managers

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - With few exceptions, among the most important individuals behind any successful nonprofit organization, including its return on investment, are its volunteers. But how do you find them, keep them motivated and give them the tools to they need to effectively make an impact?

Enter DOVIA, or Directors of Volunteers in Agencies, which has chapters across the country, including Sacramento.  The Sacramento Chapter is currently celebrating 40 years of service, providing some 100 volunteer managers from a vast range of non-profit agencies, most of whom are members, with the support they need to successfully build and serve their core of volunteers.

DOVIA workshops and trainings offer ideas for learning how to motivate volunteers, as well as avenues for members to connect with other volunteer leadership professionals and collaborate and exchange ideas.

Rachele Doty, is the volunteer coordinator for First Call Hospice in Citrus Heights. She also serves on the board of directors as vice chair for DOVIA, Sacramento.  She views the organization as an indispensable resource, where, through workshops, trainings, networking and annual conferences, she can access an evolving and valuable exchange of information on relevant issues facing professional volunteer managers, no matter the size or scope of their agency’s mission.

“I have just on-boarded 20 new volunteers at First Call Hospice, so I have been utilizing every tool and workshop or training I have under my belt through my membership with and my role on the board of DOVIA,” said Doty. “The agency is absolutely critical for anyone who is working with volunteers. You get the support you need to promote your own growth but also the growth and development of your volunteers, whether you’re part of an executive team or some other administrative department.”

Dues for membership to DOVIA are $55 for one year for those who are signing up as an employee of a non-profit agency, and that fee allows for the bundling of two employees from the same agency.  For individual memberships, the annual fee is $30.00, all nominal fees for access to support for trainings that often non-profits themselves simply don’t have the resources to provide, despite their dependence on volunteers.

Lynne Moore is a member support specialist with the Girl Scouts Heart of Central California Council, one of 112 councils in the nation.  She and several colleagues from her agency recently attended a DOVIA workshop at Bayside Church in midtown, Sacramento focused on delivering effective presentations to volunteers. For her, the workshops and DOVIA membership provide unsurpassed support and education needed to oversee the some 300 volunteers that support her council. 

“I get so much from my membership,” said Moore. “I have a lot of moving parts in my job and a lot of changing faces, so it’s critical that I keep up with new trends in recruitment and retention of volunteers. We depend so much on our volunteers and they deserve the best leadership available to them.”

The biggest challenge many non-profit organizations face with respect to volunteers, says Doty, is finding them.

“That’s an ongoing battle for everyone in the capacity of recruitment,” Doty said. “One of the things we focus on with our workshops and trainings is how to utilize all of the available tools out there to reach potential, new volunteers. That includes social media apps, creating events to attract volunteers and how to effectively get the message out to volunteers in the community about your organization and its mission.”

Meredith Holkeboer is the Volunteer Services Assistant/Pet Therapy Coordinator at Shriners Hospitals for Children, Sacramento.  To say she’s landed her dream job would be an understatement.  She also finds her membership with DOVIA as invaluable. It has provided her with the tools to network with other volunteer coordinators and share ideas for how to keep volunteers engaged and impassioned about their work.

“The unpaid volunteers that support us are critical to our mission, so I am always on the search for new tips and ideas for how to work more effectively with our volunteers at Shriners,” Holkeboer said. “I get a lot out of my membership. I learn new things every time I attend a workshop or a conference and I am reminded that I’m a part of a unique group of leaders out there who are overseeing people who make a choice whether to keep showing up and helping out.”

DOVIA will cap its 40th year with participation at the upcoming annual conference on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at Shriners Hospital. The AL!VE Hybrid Conference: Take the Leap | Embrace Change, will feature presentations for DOVIA members by four internationally renowned volunteer leaders with workshops centered on navigating organizational and professional changes.

DOVIA, Sacramento offers two, two-day trainings each year as a part of its membership focus, as well as monthly workshops, speaker events and other educational sessions.  These are open to both members and non-members.   Next year, the chapter will be taking a deep dive into the world of corporate giving, offering members in-depth trainings centered on how to make and maintain strong relationships with corporate giving managers who oversee employee volunteer pools in the community.

Presentations are planned by the heads of corporate giving departments from various companies who will provide DOVIA members with insights on how to recruit from their employee base and what their companies look for when determining which non-profits to support—something that can shift from year to year, depending on the nature of the economy and community needs.

“We are very excited about our plans for working with corporate giving representatives next year,” said Doty. “Corporate support is very important to every non-profit, regardless of the size or what their particular mission is, so that is one huge part of what we’ll be focusing on next year.”

Other areas of focus for upcoming workshops will include stress management, supporting volunteer managers with tips and tricks of the trade to keep their volunteers from overpowering or, in some cases, de-railing the mission. And, just as importantly, training support will provide members with ideas for keeping their sanity when volunteers drop off, a phenomenon that, unfortunately, “goes hand-in-hand with our profession,” Doty said.

To find out more see www.doviasacramento.org/