By Mandie Dolezal, SDA Community Ambassador
Main Street Summer Leadership Meeting, Colfax, WA. July 2018
I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Summer Leadership Meeting for the Washington State Main Street Program, in Colfax, WA., on Monday and Tuesday this week.
Walking into Sol Vallarta for dinner on Sunday night, I immediately received a warm greeting! There were around 30 community leaders from Downtown Associations from all over the state.
After dinner we met for a tour of the famous St. Ignatius Haunted Hospital. It was an incredible experience and I highly recommend it for those who love old buildings, history or ghost hunting! Our tour guide, Valerie, was a great story teller. She told us the local stories and her own experience of paranormal activities while giving tours. Growing up in Colfax and being born in St. Ignatius herself, she was able to tell us about the lives of those who passed away and whose spirits now haunt the many halls of the hospital. She had a creative way of bringing in facts and local history into her ghost stories.
Monday morning our Leadership Meeting began. We met in what used to be an old drug store that was turned into a community event center and art gallery. The project was completed with the help of students studying to become architects.
Brad Ferris started off with a presentation about Craft3, a company that helps to make financing available for people, businesses and communities that may not otherwise qualify. This was followed by Broadband Infrastructure and Bill 2664, presented by Joe Poire, Port of Whiman County. Both presentations were full of information and quite interesting. It was great to learn more about resources available for our communities.
Mary DeMarais of Gig Harbor and Breanne co-lead best practices for Board Leadership. Topics covered: Main Street as working boards, relationships are key, leadership development, The 3/3/3 Rule (top 3 organization to contribute to, 3 new people, attend 3 events), term limitations, fundraising, board retreat, working with the city, and accountability. Then they opened it up for a round table discussion and others shared what was working for them with everyone. The top take-a-ways from this discussion: 1) Have volunteers/staff, etc do a self-evaluation, list their strengths and give them ownership in assigned projects. 2) Have clearly defined roles and expectations. 3) The importance of cultivating relationships with your staff, board, community/volunteers as well as other community organizations, such as City, Parks & Rec, Chamber, etc. Ideas for this were as simple as having a cup of coffee up to hosting an annual retreat.
Alice presented The Copenhagen Way. She went on a trip to Copenhagen, Denmark and shared how their community was able to create a more ‘green and blue’ way of life. This was based on research that people are typically happier living in green spaces and/or near water. For example, they were able to turn parking lots back into community parks and almost everyone (even elderly and disabled) rode bikes throughout their downtown area. It was great to see how a few like-minded people were able to change the culture and perception of the ‘need’ for vehicles.
Linda from Wenatchee presented One Million Cups, a social agreement and goal to have a million cups of coffee with local business owners to learn how to best support them. The goal is to engage with small businesses once a week (or month, depending on the size of your community). Linda also presented a “New Business Welcome Kit”, a brochure to welcome new businesses to the community which includes information on business permits, zoning, historical information, signage, etc. as well as contact info for supportive community organizations.
Matt from Oak Harbor presented Video Profiles, a way to help promote and share the story of local businesses and what they are up to. He shared two videos, one that was very effective and received great social media interaction and one that did not do as well. The group was able to discuss and share what they believed made the difference. Members also shared effective practices. Such as “Downtown Abby” and “Where Am I Wednesday” which are live social media videos of downtown association members visiting local businesses or historical buildings, etc. It was suggested to ask for intern or student videographers, advertising, social media experts that would like to donate or partner. There will be more on the importance and effectiveness of storytelling at the Fall Main Street Retreat.
Nick and Breanne presented the URM Study, which stands for Un-Reinforced Masonry, interlocking bricks with no rebar. Buildings built with this method pose a seismic risk including potential loss of life or loss of building. The WA State Dept of Commerce in collaboration with the Dept. of Archeology and Historic Preservation are asking for help collecting data, inventorying and categorizing building attributes (e.g., current use/vacancies, historic character, underutilization of upper floors, etc.) via walking audit. This will help assess and potentially rehabilitate URMs.
A planning discussion regarding the State Preservation Plan/Washington Main Street Program was presented by Nick, Breanne and Carrie.
1) Telling a story – Why it’s important and the Impact
2) WA Trust – Financial Investment
3) Funding – DAP WA Main Street
4) Strategic Growth Plan. Main Street is looking to hire more staff. The goal is to have one Main Street Coordinator for every 10 Downtown Associations. We are currently at one for thirty three cities.
Participants discussed the preservation ideas and issues faced in their communities. Such as:
• No funding to purchase historical buildings
• Struggling to keep the historical wharf in Camas floating
• Preserving town history with art installations, i.e.: sculptures of Chief Moses in Moses Lake.
• Creative uses for public space, such as: First Friday, Night Market, Art Walk to create (or re-create) downtown community, neighborhood comradery, culture, perception.
• Issues such as: walk-ability and homelessness
• Building codes, architecture
• Small business retention
• Education the community regarding misconceptions of Historical Preservation. Compare what it means today verses the 1966 definition by the Historical Preservation Act.
Colfax Businesses and Upstairs Tours: Upper Floor Possibilities, led by Nick and Val
Monday evening we met at the library and were led on a fun and interesting tour of historical buildings, vacant properties and we were able to meet some of the local business owners. It was fun to learn the history of the buildings, like the dance hall/roller skating rink that is now a drug store and the Rose Theater that was at one time used as offices and is now vacant. City leaders are hopeful someone will be interested in restoring it back into a community theater arts center.
Empower Your Volunteers – Strategic Volunteer Engagement
presented by Kari Anderson email@example.com
Outcomes for session – Define volunteer engagement
Create a plan to: Record data, Create volunteer-specific outreach strategies, Offer a diverse set of volunteer opportunities, Host a volunteer appreciation event.
Volunteer Engagement is a strategy that builds organizational capacity through employee and volunteer collaboration; the development of high-impact, meaningful volunteer opportunities that create greater influence and outcome for the organization.
Mission, Values, Culture: Any group that is sanctioned by your organization should reflect your mission, values and culture. It should be implemented with excellence.
Purpose, people, purpose!!!! Having: a focused purpose, leadership that is cultivated, identified and oriented, clear expectations, sufficient staff support to ensure success and providing rewarding and fun volunteer opportunities.
Support and train volunteers by using new technology and developing strategic plans. Before creating a plan, do an overall assessment. What are you doing well? Where are you struggling? Then, set goals
Where do you want to be in six months to a year? Metrics: How are you going to measure your progress towards your goals?
Assess Your Community. How might they want to be involved?
Consider the Tools. What systems, structures and technologies do you need to involve volunteer effectively and to meet your goals?
Assess Internal Capacity. How ready is your staff to involve volunteers?
Assess the Competition. Look to see what other organizations are doing well. It’s okay to share or borrow ideas and strategies.
The plan supports the entire organization instead of starting with a position description, start with a strategic plan for volunteer involvement.
Creating The Plan
#1 – Record data. Biographical and contact information Communication preferences Previous volunteer history and giving habits Familial, corporate, and other personal connections Interests, skills, and affinities. Data helps you: Keep volunteer data organized, Get to know your volunteers better to more effectively target your engagement strategies, and streamline your operations. Options for Data organization: Little Green Light, Kindful, Bloomerang. Website to find what works best for your organization: https://www.softwareadvice.com/nonprofit/cr m-software-comparison/
#2 – Outreach Strategies
Directly address volunteers on social media.
• Volunteers can be more responsive to social media engagement than donors.
• Many volunteers are compelled to get involved after they read the stories nonprofits share on social media.
Don’t push for donations.
• You’re talking to your volunteers, not your donors.
• Don’t push for more by asking for donations; it can be off-putting.
• Many of your volunteers will naturally donate after becoming more invested in your organization.
Volunteer Match – profile and on website
#3 – Diverse opportunities
• Exactly what tasks are expected of them
• Where and when they’re supposed to complete those tasks
• And how those tasks will further your organization’s cause and goals
Diverse Opportunities – SCHEDULED!
To Text or Not To Text? Texting…
• Is better in time-sensitive situations
• When the weather isn’t cooperating
• When there’s a natural disaster
• When you need more volunteers
Use Social Media
• Engage your audience with compelling content
• Keep potential volunteers informed
• Recruit new donors or volunteers to your nonprofit
#4 – Appreciate They’ll come back if….
• Meaningful roles
• Part of something big
Why an Appreciation Event?
Cultivate a community
• Volunteers often feel more connected to the cause than the organization itself.
• Many are looking to volunteer to become part of a community of people who are interested in furthering those causes.
• Volunteer appreciation events provide the perfect opportunity to do so!
Allows you to get to know your volunteers even better.
• By talking to your volunteers in person at an appreciation event, you’ll be able to learn things about them that you would never be able to learn through your outreach.
• Insights can help you hone your volunteer outreach even more, so you can see even higher engagement levels.
An event is a:
• Your organization can leverage appreciation events to incentivize further volunteering with your organization.
• For example, you can host an event every time a volunteer has worked a certain number of hours with your organization.
• Imagine how much more engagement you’ll see when the promise of a celebration is involved!
Why do volunteers leave?
• Not Matching Volunteers’ Skills with Assignments
• Equipment Quality
• Not Measuring the Value of Volunteers
• Lack of Orientation & Training
• Failing to Provide Strong Leadership
• Appearance of Office/Workspace
• Failing to Recognize Volunteers’ Contributions
• Not Measuring the Value of Volunteers
• Lack of Communication
How do we keep them?
Rethink work roles Assign appropriate tasks Create bonding experiences
Volunteers are a resource, and it’s up to you to retain them
• Value their time
• Have a plan
• Make a connection
Incite! Consulting Group
1324 N. Liberty Lake Rd., Ste. 2421 Liberty Lake, WA 99019 Toll Free: (844) 9-INCITE
Upcoming Event Announcements:
2019 National Meeting – March 25-27 in Seattle
My offer discounts for those who bring guests or volunteer. Scholarships my also be available.
$450 for members, $550 non-members. Hyatt Regency rooms for approx. $180.
The National Main Street Center is seeking education session proposals for the 2019 Main Street Now Conference in Seattle, Wash., March 25 – 27th. All proposals are due by 11:59 p.m. (CDT) on August 8, 2018. Please submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fall Leadership Meeting (“retreat”) will be October 22-23. More details coming soon.