Wednesday, February 25, 2015

8 clever ways to support and supervise volunteers | Mpowerment best practices

Volunteerism. Volunteerism is at the very heart of the Mpowerment Project. The Project can only succeed if numerous young men volunteer their time and talents to its day-to-day operations. 

Not only do volunteers do most of the work that keeps the Project running, but they also become powerful agents of change in their diverse communities. A relatively small staff can accomplish a tremendous amount by effectively mobilizing a large, diverse, and dynamic volunteer base.

Mpowerment YVR | Vancouver BC

Volunteers report that they
are more willing to participate 
in areas which seem more relevant 
to their daily lives and in which 
they have greater expertise.

It is helpful for the Coordinators to attend to the following areas on an ongoing basis:
  • Encouraging and valuing the contributions of volunteers 
  • Making certain that volunteers receive careful training and supervision
  • Coordinating the effective use of volunteers
  • Ensuring that volunteers remain motivated, happy, and productive
  • Ensuring that volunteers reflect the diversity of young gay/ bisexual men in the community

Encourage M-group attendance. Encouraging every volunteer to attend an M-group is a very important and useful training and orientation strategy. 
Through the group, volunteers gain a shared experience of the Project philosophy and activities, and they also learn more about their role to build a supportive, health-promoting community. This will help them to be more effective when they interact with Project participants while performing their volunteer tasks.

SOMOS | Mpowerment Wilton Manors FL

Supervising volunteers All staff members should understand that empowering volunteers and maintaining the volunteers’ morale is a critical part of their job. It is important to check in frequently with volunteers to make certain they don’t feel overwhelmed with whatever they are doing. It is also important that volunteers are assisted to critically analyze and reflect upon their work and upon the role the Project has in the young gay/bisexual men’s community. This kind of reflection and analysis is important in all parts of the Project. We recommend that Coordinators meet periodically with individual volunteers to discuss how their experience is going and whether they would like to continue or change their current activities.

Support for condoms, safer sex and testing. A part of the experience volunteering with the Mpowerment Project includes supporting each other as young gay/bisexual men who are part of a community where safer sex is the norm.

The Q Austin | Mpowerment TX

A part of the experience volunteering 
with the Mpowerment Project 
includes supporting each other 
as young gay/bisexual men who 
are part of a community 
where safer sex is the norm.

Support to avoid burnout. All organizations that use volunteers have to deal with the problem of burnout. 
The solution is to prevent it by putting into place measures that address volunteer needs. Whenever possible, structure the volunteer work so it can be done in a social and fun way. Outreach activities are what draw many young men to the Project, and meeting social needs is one of the Project’s Guiding Principles. Furthermore, when the work environment is enjoyable and involves multiple volunteers, this makes it easier for the volunteers to make new friends, which in turn helps to create community.
  1. Solicit ideas from volunteers on ways to support their participation, and implement those that can easily be put into place. You could do this by asking, “What would make you feel appreciated for your efforts?”
  2. Provide debriefing time after outreach events.
  3. Use pairs or teams of outreach volunteers, rather than having volunteers work alone.
  4. Hold monthly support meetings for volunteers, and create a relaxing and fun social environment for them.
  5. Offer volunteers a variety of tasks so they don’t feel that they have to do the same activities all the time.
  6. Remember that it is preferable for paid staff to do the “grunt work” rather than having volunteers always doing the boring work and paid staff doing the most creative and fun tasks.
  7. Give away movie passes and/or gift certificates. These can sometimes be obtained at a reduced cost or free-of-charge from local businesses.
  8. Share whatever positive feedback you receive about the Project with the volunteers.
Haven Mpowerment Project | Springfield MO

RELATED: Looking for ways to recruit volunteers for your Core Group? 
1 super simple way to recruit new participants

RELATEDHow to mobilize a successful Core Group with few resources via The Mu Crew Mpowerment Dayton OH

RELATED12+ Icebreakers to start Core Group or other meetings

Reach out to us.

Read more in Module 5 Core Group and other Volunteers.  It is a free download when you register at Both the Core Group and the non-Core Group volunteers are essential Core Elements of the Mpowerment Project. 

Follow these Mpowerment Projects


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

3 easy to remember motivators for joining your Mpowerment Core Group

What motivates young men to want to be part of the Core Group, especially since it takes a considerable amount of time and energy to participate? Keeping these motivators in mind will increase your success in building and maintaining the group.

Me Plus U | Mpowerment New Orleans LA

First, a major motivation to participate in the Core Group is that it provides an opportunity to meet and socialize with other young men. Since the social aspect of the Project is a prime motivator for many young men (and therefore is a Guiding Principle), it is important from the outset to include time for socializing and team building among Core Group members. For example, sometimes Core Group members choose to go out dancing together on a Saturday night. Some Core Groups have made it a regular practice of going out to a cafe together following their meetings. Building such opportunities into the Project helps to keep young men involved.

Mpowerment YVR | Vancouver BC

Second, granting decision-making power to the Core Group members is very motivating. This contributes to the strong sense of ownership Core Group members feel for the program, which translates into a willingness to commit their time to Project activities. It can be far more rewarding to work on a program when you have a strong voice in it than if you are only carrying out someone else’s decisions, or if you only have very limited power in deciding what the program will do. Again, this sort of empowerment is one of the Guiding Principles of the program.

Influential young men
 are extremely helpful to have 
as Core Group members.

N'MPower | Mpowerment Albuquerque, New Mexico

Third, having an opportunity to help their community is highly motivating for some men, and the Project goals of community-building and HIV prevention offer multiple opportunities to become involved in these areas. 

Core Group members get to plan and carry out activities to prevent HIV infection among their peers, support friends to get tested for HIV, and support friends to follow up with medical care if they have HIV. For other men, helping their community by reducing the sense of isolation that many young gay/bisexual men experience is motivating, and thus they welcome the opportunity to actively create new social outlets for young men. 

FOOD.  It is important to serve food at Core Group meetings because—surprise, surprise!—people like to eat when they get together. The type and amount of food depends on the Project budget, as well as community expectations. Some Projects provide substantial meals before Core Group meetings, while others offer light refreshments (juice, soda, chips, crackers, and cookies). Depending on when Core Group meetings occur, it is important to recognize that Core Group members may be giving up their dinner hour to attend the Core Group, so having something to eat is important. 

Genesis Project | Mpowerment Pocatello ID

RELATED: Looking for ways to recruit for your Core Group? 
1 super simple way to recruit new participants

RELATEDHow to mobilize a successful Core Group with few resources via The Mu Crew Mpowerment Dayton OH

Reach out to us.


More information can be found in Module 5 Core Group and other Volunteers. This module is a free .pdf download when you register at