With over five years of volunteering experience and leading her own social impact projects, Abigail had become skilled at volunteer management and coordination. The passion for volunteering started in her second year of university when Abigail was inspired to take action in her community in Lagos, Nigeria. But with every experience, she started feeling disheartened by the lack of volunteer management and training at nonprofit organizations across Africa. Abigail's peers shared her disgruntlement and felt let down with the volunteer opportunities they had taken on. It became apparent to her that many of the young people looking to share their gifts through volunteering, were not receiving adequate support, training or resources to be effective in their role. This was upsetting for Abigail as she considered volunteers to be an integral part of any nonprofit organization's work. “The problem of volunteer mismanagement and lack of productivity has a ripple effect. It directly impacts the organization and therefore affects the organization's capacity to achieve its goal in making the world a better place,” she notes.
Abigail decided to use her experience in volunteer recruitment and coordination to do something about it. She began by trying to identify the root cause of what was causing volunteers to feel left out and burnt out, quickly focusing her attention to the higher levels of nonprofits who were not effectively training or organizing their volunteers. Then, with the framework the Peace First Platform provided, she started Volunteer Better to help identify the struggles volunteers had and train nonprofit leaders and executives to better recruit, manage and support their volunteers.
In just six weeks, Abigail was able to develop a plan and launch Volunteer Better, work with 35 nonprofit leaders and fully run a virtual training workshop. Six weeks! But that was largely possible because of the collaborative spirit Abigail approached the work with. She made sure to recruit a team of diverse minds to help plan, worked closely with our Fellows in Residence to understand her own changemaking journey and leaned on others as obstacles, like a global pandemic, made things more difficult.
In fact, initially Abigail wanted her first Volunteer Better event to be held in person, but due to pandemic regulations and health concerns, she was forced to go virtual. And while that created its own problems, like scheduling and teaching through video, it helped expand the reach of her project even more. Beyond working with 35 nonprofit leaders, including one from Ireland, this first virtual event had over 20 attendees as well as facilitators and others helping Abigail with Volunteer Better. Through nine different sessions, each attendee learned how to support their volunteers more effectively, sharing feedback like “that workshop created a perspective shift” and “volunteering goes beyond target goals of an organization.”
And after such incredible success with this project, Abigail is working to make this a sustainable organization all on its own, training nonprofits throughout Nigeria on how to better recruit, manage and support volunteers.