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Conference Wrap-Up: What's Next?

Lisa Joyslin  | Published on 12/2/2020

Conference Wrap-Up: What’s Next?

MAVA’s November virtual conference on “Redefining Volunteerism: Dismantling Inequities,” was an amazing 3 days packed with learning, listening and inspiration. MAVA is extremely thankful for each of the incredible speakers who contributed their expertise and lived experience, and for the 220 participants who took the bold step to examine hard truths in our field and learn to do better.

In the words of one participant: “I am proud to be a part of this community working to change our broken systems and country. Thanks for doing the work and creating a place and space for all of us to show up.”

Thank YOU all for showing up, and we can’t wait to keep moving forward together.

After MAVA’s 2020 Virtual Conference we asked participants to share practices, ideas or resources they hope to implement in the future as a result of the conference. People had such amazing ideas and action items that we wanted to share a sampling of responses (see below). We hope these ideas give you a snapshot of conference takeaways, and also provide ideas for actions you can take for yourself and your organization.

  • I will be working with our team to revisit the language we use in volunteer descriptions and recruitment.
  • Slow down and listen instead of rushing to action all the time.
  • Set goals for DEI in our programming.
  • Not placing my values or fears on others (perfectionism and fear of conflict).
  • Reviewing our website to ensure inclusive verbiage and giving people context before giving content.
  • Creating levels/avenues of access to participation within our organization as a volunteer.
  • Partner with other organizations to recruit volunteers (such as Veteran centric organizations).
  • Adding pronouns to email signature (personal & professional).
  • Thinking about moving to anti-racist activities as forming a new habit.
  • Making sure volunteers can see themselves in my organization in a variety of ways.
  • Finding out what my volunteers (especially older) really need.
  • Review the approach of our internal volunteer onboarding program/practices.
  • Requesting that volunteer training videos are closed captioned and photos on our web pages have descriptors.
  • Learning what our barriers to volunteers are and working to remove them.
  • Create time and space to pause, listen, reevaluate, relearn, and continue on.
  • Continue to explore how white supremacy is impacting how we recruit, vet, and interact with our volunteers of color.
  • Seek to amplify and center the voice of the BIPOC volunteers currently with our organization.
  • Developing a direct plan to create outreach in our rural communities.
  • Adding anti-racism resources to our volunteer program.
  • Explore clients being able to volunteer.
  • Acknowledging and acting where I have power for change.
  • Reframe for how we approach volunteer engagement: What do you need to be able to volunteer? (vs. what do I need you to do!)
  • Importance of understanding white supremacy culture and how it defines the culture of volunteering and organizations as a whole.
  • Listen to understand and not reply.
  • Revisit our general reference and reliance on "Best Practices" with the lens of "Best for Whom?"
  • Recognize that when our white organization advertises a position "to our networks" that these networks are part of what keeps our organization predominantly white.
  • We are in the process of redoing our volunteer name badges to include a field for pronouns.
  • Build relationships in the community to meet volunteers where they are.
  • I feel more comfortable in recognizing microaggressions and how to respond should I hear someone use one against someone else.
  • Assessing our recruitment documents/web page and changing language to be more inclusive/focused on connection
  • Review and edit our application (add pronouns?, delete references?, explicitly value lived-experience?).
  • Make space for others and practice not centering myself.
  • Work to remove barriers such as monthly hour commitments and background checks.
  • I am going to speak to my supervisors about how "accessibility benefits everyone!"
  • I will be continuing the work to learn, unlearn, and relearn.


Mark your calendars for next year: MAVA’s Equity in Volunteerism Conference will be a 1-day virtual event on December 9, 2021!