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Yes, You—a Volunteer Manager—Are a Techy Person. And It’s Time to Own It.

Posted By Adam Dias, March 27, 2018
 Technology Banner

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

 

Volunteer managers wear many hats and juggle many things at once. With so many things on the go, it can seem daunting when someone—possibly an IT colleague—recommends a new tool or technology that you should learn or use.

As it turns out, I’m one of those IT people, asking you to change your password frequently and lean into the tech space.

However, all too often when I bring up ‘strong password’ rules or guidelines for keeping safe in an internet-connected world, I get the same reaction. This even happens in non-technical conversations, simply because I’m the ‘tech guy’—I’m met with a physical response that I’d like to address: It starts with recoil. A step backwards or the slow rolling of an office chair, pushed inches back by nervous feet. Then, a deep inhale and hands raised to chest height—palms out, defeated and captive, they proclaim,

“I’m not a techy person.”

My response has been finely tuned to counter this argument—if you can look up a recipe for chicken parm on your cell phone, you are, in fact, a techy person. And volunteer managers, you’re in on this too.

Sure, you may not have a strong handle on how every blinking box in your office runs, and you might not know exactly where Instagram pictures go before your friends can comment on them, but your technological prowess is deep and layered—you might just need to shift your perspective to think about it differently. Knowing this, I’d like to share some truths:

 

Truth #1: The more you become actively engaged with new technologies the better you’ll be able to connect with volunteers, empower them, and build the capacity of your organization. Submitting to the idea that you’re “not a techy person” means voluntarily staying behind the curve, which hurts your organization and makes it more difficult to help the people you want to support.

 

Truth #2: Engaging volunteers online is more important than ever—volunteers are people, and technology is overwhelmingly integrated into each of our lives. By implementing a simple technical project, you can recognize the efforts of your volunteers and inspire tech responsibility throughout your office, especially if multiple departments engage volunteers. For example, why not start a free blog on services like Blogger or WordPress to highlight achievements, sharing it on social media to spread the word about how great your volunteers are!

 

Truth #3: Engage each other through tech and have fun! Everyone in your organization will have some exposure to tech. When moving the dial on owning tech in your non-profit environment, you should arrive at a mutual agreement about each person’s roles and responsibilities. It’s not all on you! To get the conversation going, share a TED Talk at your next staff meeting that focuses on internet privacy issues. Print and display some free cyber security posters around the office to as both reminders and conversation starters—you may even start to identify gaps to fill. If you get positive responses, go the next step and host a team-building event, like a hackathon, to inspire innovation and to promote a more tech ownership focused office culture.

 

Truth #4: As a volunteer manager, you can lean on Volunteer Toronto for support when deciding what tech to use to bolster your volunteer engagement. Check out these blogs for some starter tips:

 

Taking ownership of your tech requires the same degree of effort as, say, trying to improve your diet or learning a new skill. You don’t need to have all the answers. Just remember, embracing technology and exploring its benefits will only improve your volunteer engagement—there really is no need to recoil at the mention.

With an open mindset, you can use our greatest technological achievements to take great strides as a manager and as a non-profit organization. The first step is a simple one, though it is rarely easy—open yourself to the avenues of new knowledge and experiences that technology creates.

   

When not chasing his son or getting after it on the Jiu Jitsu mats, Bill Dungey holds a leadership position with the CTSIT (https://ctsit.ca) team - an Ontario-based IT company helping non-profits make things better.

Tags:  Leadership  volunteer engagement  volunteer management  volunteer managers 

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