VANtage: July 2017

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VAN Members,

I love everything about travel – everything. I start planning my precious vacation time out months (or in at least one instance, years) in advance. I get every travel guide from the library, I read the newspapers from my destination, I meticulously plan the route, and I schedule my days in minute detail. Two years ago, my wife and I took a trip from the mountains of Virginia to the Chesapeake Bay, where we experienced 12 National Park Service sites in 6 days. Needless to say, my wife is a saint.

My process hit a bit of a wall on our vacation this year, though. As a celebration of my parent’s 35th wedding anniversary, my sister and I decided to take a trip with them and our significant others to Cape Cod. We haven’t been on a family vacation since we were in high school, so this was destined to be an adventure. My family doesn’t vacation the same way that I do; they look forward to the rest and relaxation, and a trip to the ocean sounded like an opportunity to do just that. To me, it sounded like a place where I could learn about whaling, experience seals and sharks in their habitat, take a fast boat ride, stand on the spot where the Mayflower first landed in the New World, you get the picture.

I’m happy to say we survived, but only by compromise and restraint. While I intended to learn about Thoreau, I learned more about the power of a good compromise. I think that’s true when working with volunteers as well. There are things that are required and expected of the volunteers we work with, but in many instances, they are the boots on the ground, reporting back to us about their experiences, needs, and wants. If we always consider ourselves to be the subject matter experts, how will we learn and grow? By listening and incorporating their ideas into our programs, we can expand our reach and help our programs shine a little brighter. Plus, as I learned this summer, sometimes sitting on a beach and just listening to the waves hit the breakwater can be a pretty great experience by itself.

Nick Linkenhoker
VAN Central Ohio President


July Monthly Meeting:

VAN Gives Back!
Thursday, July 20
8:30 – 11:00 a.m.
Nelson Park – 430 N. Nelson Rd.
Columbus, OH 43219

As Volunteer Administrators, we are always recruiting volunteers to help our organizations, but on July 20th, it’s our turn to GIVE BACK! Join the VAN board and other VAN members in a fun, outdoor project helping the Columbus Rec & Parks with a playground mulching/clean up. Please wear closed toed shoes and bring your own sunscreen, water bottle, etc. We will volunteer rain or shine (unless there is lightning)!

August Monthly Meeting:

Conference on Volunteering & Service Recap
Hear from VAN members as they share new best practices, innovative ideas, and more from the 2017 National Conference on Volunteering and Service.


Job Postings

Did you know VAN lists job postings in the ‘Members Only’ section of the website? Check out the two new listings below in further detail by clicking here.



All memberships expired on June 30th. Please renew your membership for 2017-2018 by clicking here to visit the VAN website. We have some unique opportunities for networking and professional development lined up for the second half of this year and want to be sure you have continued access to these events and resources.

VAN Member Spotlight

To highlight VAN members and VAN Member organizations we are introducing the new VAN Member Spotlight. This will be a great way for us to learn about who is a part of the organization and how we might be able to support each other in the work that we do.

July’s Member Spotlight is Shining On:

Name, Job Title, Organization
Sheri McLane, Asst. Volunteer Coordinator, Columbus Association. for the Performing Arts (CAPA)

How long have you been in the field of Volunteer Administration?
Professionally, almost 7 yrs. I have several more as a Volunteer in many organizations from PTA’s, music and sports booster organizations, and Military Family Support groups. I have had many roles in those organizations which included coordinating other volunteers. Which is a good background, since it puts me in the position of knowing how I expect to be worked with and treated as a Volunteer, and trying to implement that within my profession.

Describe the work you do . . .
My primary function is to keep Volunteers informed on events, scheduling Volunteers for events, and providing support for both the Volunteers and the staff they work with. That is the simplified version! It is also called “juggling”.

What do you like best about the work you do?
I really enjoy getting to know the Volunteers in our organization, we have about 650. They are so passionate about what they do. The idea of working for an organization that preserves and promotes the Arts and History in our community, and knowing that I have a role in that is amazing to me!

What would you like to learn more about in the field of Volunteer Administration?
How to bridge the gap between Volunteer and paid staff with better results. Showing others the value of our Volunteers, so they see, respect, and appreciate them the way I do.

What are your areas of strength that you are willing to share?
I think one of my biggest strengths in working with Volunteers is, I can communicate with them on a whole level, as well as individually. I can read the Volunteer, in order to know what type of communication and interaction works better for them, what will motivate them, and what they may need to spur them on. You need good communication skills, humor, and the personal touch. I know when the Volunteers come up to me at a show to chat or to thank me for remembering their name, or that they just took some time off for a medical condition, or they just had a new grandchild, I know I must be doing something right.

August 2016 VANtage

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President’s Message

VAN Members,

Last month we had the opportunity to learn more about the powerful impact of mentoring from Past President Saundra McBrearty. During the workshop, Saundra asked us to each reflect on the people in our lives who have helped us in times of trouble and times of strength and growth. As we shared our thoughts with the larger group it was really cool to see light bulbs go off for people, as they talked about individuals they never defined as mentors, but realized that’s exactly what they were. Just this week, as I attended the retirement celebration of one of my first supervisors, I continued reflecting as encouraged by Saundra, and realized all the ways that this one individual shaped my life, in ways she never even knew about. I share this because as volunteer administrators we are so well positioned to serve as mentors, in ways formal and informal, to the volunteers we work with everyday. But we are also in the incredible position of being surrounded by people – our volunteers, our staff, our fellow VAN members – who can profoundly impact our path in life if we are open to mentorship. While I know that VAN has so much to offer through professional development, meetings and workshops, I am constantly reminded that the most valuable asset we have is our people – an entire team of people to learn from and grow along side as we work to engage volunteers in our communities.

Don’t forget that it is membership renewal time! I challenge you to not only renew your membership, but ask someone you know, someone who could benefit from our powerful mentoring network, to join as well.

Melanie Murphy, CVA
VAN Central Ohio President



August Monthly Meeting:
Points of Light Conference Recap
Thursday, August 18
8:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Avondale – 5215 Avery Road
Dublin, Ohio 43016

If you missed the Points of Light convened Conference On Volunteering and Service we have good news for you. Four of your distinguished fellow VAN members are sharing their favorite sessions with you this month.

Here’s what we’ll share:
• Our favorite presentation from the opening plenary
• Strategies in Creating a Culture of Volunteer Engagement (Terri Gregoroff)
• Targeted Volunteer Recruitment (Liz Solomon)
• Beyond the Volunteer Event (Nick Linkenhoker)
• Innovation and Problem Solving (Sue Wolford)

To make sure we have time for all this great information, we’ll start with a panel, then break into small groups for discussion. See you there!

CVA Exam Registration Deadline is
September 15!
Have you wondered how you can take your career to the next level? Consider the Certified in Volunteer Administration credential! Offered by the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration, the CVA exam is offered during two exam windows each year. But don’t delay, the registration deadline to take the exam in October is September 15.
Click here to visit the CCVA website for more details.



VAN Membership Renewal
Just as a reminder, all memberships expired on June 30th and now is the time to renew your VAN Membership. There is a new VAN Membership category: Individual Membership (Paid for by Organization). With this category the membership is transferable to a new individual with-in the organization if you leave the organization or your position changes. The Individual Membership (Paid for by the Individual) is not transferable. If you leave the organization, the membership goes with you. If you have 4 or more individuals within the organization that are joining VAN, please e-mail VAN to receive the discount code reducing the rate of an Individual membership by $10.

We are looking forward to another exciting year with VAN as we roll out the mentoring program as a way to strengthen relationships and skills among our members.

VAN Member Raffle
In recognition of attendance at monthly VAN meetings, we will be hosting a raffle at the annual holiday event in December. Each month that you attend a meeting (starting in July) and sign-in, your name will be entered in the raffle to win a prize. We look forward to seeing you at the monthly VAN meetings!

May VANtage

Written by Nick Linkenhoker on . Posted in Uncategorized

President’s Message

VAN Members,

While recruiting volunteers, it’s so easy to get caught up in explaining why we need volunteers that we forget to market to potential volunteers the reasons they need us. Volunteering is a two way street and there is nothing wrong with promoting the many benefits potential volunteers will receive by giving their time to our organization. Try emphasizing some of these often overlooked value-adds when marketing your volunteer opportunities. Don’t bury benefits like these in the bottom of your job descriptions. Bring them front and center and tell everyone just what they will get from YOU while they give to others.

  1. Volunteering makes you a better learner.
  2. Volunteering makes you a better leader.
  3. Volunteering makes you healthier.
  4. Volunteering can round out your resume.

Melanie Murphy, CVA
VAN Central Ohio President


Strengths Finders
May 19, 8:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Lincoln Theater*, 769 East Long Street


7 Million People Can’t Be Wrong!

Over 7 million people have taken the test, and now you can, too. VAN members will take the Strengths Finder test free of charge – but don’t delay! All tests must be taken by noon on Monday, May 16 so our facilitator receives your results prior to the May 19 meeting.

CLICK HERE to register for the meeting and learn your strengths!

More than 30 years of research went into discovering the 34 strengths that make people tick. By going to the VAN website and signing up for May’s meeting you will receive a code via email that will give you access to the test that will reveal your unique strength combination. Since VAN is paying for this opportunity for you, please make sure that you are able to attend this meeting before registering!

The concept is simple. Your weaknesses will always be your weaknesses. You can work on them day and night, and they’ll still be there. This approach, developed by Donald Clifton, is to develop your natural strengths so that they can compensate for your weaknesses. Build on what you naturally do well.

At the May meeting a certified Gallup trainer will walk us through exercises to explain how to use our strengths. If you’ve taken the test, you know how enlightening this is. If you took the test a few years ago, we recommend you take it again. Over time new experiences will cause your strengths to shift.

Have team members interested in taking the test but they aren’t VAN members? They can join us for this special meeting for $10 each—that’s a great price for access to these online materials.

One more way VAN helps you build your career: Let’s develop our strengths together.

*Please enter through the red door in the right, front of the building. Parking is to the west of the theater and across the street.


Making the Most of Mentoring
June 16, 8:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Worthington Christian Village, 165 Highbluffs Boulevard Columbus, Ohio 43235


At some point in your career you need guidance. Even if you’re at the top of your profession, a mentor can help you stay on the path to continued success.

For some, mentoring is a scary word and it doesn’t have to be. Like networking, mentoring can be nothing more than a conversation about business practices, which direction to take, sharing life experiences, and giving and taking advice. It’s not very different from every other discussion you have with trusted coworkers.

Mentoring can go up or down in an organization, it can happen in a group, it can be peer-to-peer, but it’s all about sharing.

If you completed the VAN Mentoring survey, you received an email from Saundra with your mentor or mentee’s name and contact information. If you got the email, call your contact and invite them to this meeting! There will be time for you two to connect.

  • If you didn’t get Saundra’s email, you didn’t complete the survey. Join us at the June meeting, and a couple things can happen.
  • You can get matched with a mentor or mentee on the spot or
  • Join one of the mentor teams and experience group mentoring!

The sharing that takes place in a mentoring situation can be transformational. We’ll be guiding each other through the daily storm of volunteer management.
See you on June 16 at Worthington Christian Village at 165 Highbluffs Boulevard, just off Route 23 north of 270. Pull around the building and park in back.

Check it Out!

MVAVA Spring 2016 Workshop: The Contemporary Classics of Volunteer Administration
June 20, 8:30 a.m – 2:00 p.m.

The Miami Valley Association of Volunteer Administrators presents their Spring 2016 Workshop, June 20, 8:30 a.m – 2:00 p.m., focusing on how to build a volunteer program and integrate contemporary concepts of virtual volunteering.

Click here for more information – Registration ends May 18th.

Points of Light Conference on Volunteering & Service

One of the best ways to gain expertise in the Volunteer Management profession is to join the national network of professionals at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service hosted by the Points of Light Foundation. This year’s annual conference will be held in Detroit, Michigan from June 27-29. Click here to learn more!

Save money on transportation costs by joining the VAN carpool for this important event. VAN will host transportation to and from the conference for all members interested in carpooling.

If you budgeted for the conference and would like to save money on transportation, email Sue Wolford at and let her know. Costs for the trip will depend on the number of people who join us.


Special Message from Membership Co-Chairs, Carla Stokes & Terri Gregoroff

Hello VAN Members! Carla Stokes and Terri Gregoroff, VAN Membership Co-Chairs, would like to thank you for being a part of this amazing network of Volunteer Administrators. We are excited about the roll out of the new mentor program and then benefits it will bring to our members.

Just a reminder that your membership will expire on June 30th at which time you will be able to go online and renew your membership through the VAN website. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to continue to network and learn from others in our field. The work we do is so important in making a difference in the lives of others through volunteer service. Thank you for what you do!