What do you call your volunteers? (and an exciting announcement)


(Sarah Hawk) #1

Exciting announcement first:

Rich and I have asked @Nick_Emmett to be more formally involved in this community. From a logistical perspective, that means that he has moderation powers. From a strategic perspective, it means he’s my wingman.

I’m really excited about it because I have a lot of respect for the work Nick does – he has a knack for making people feel welcome and included.

But this comes with a challenge. I don’t know what to call him. While Wingman is the perfect description in my mind, it doesn’t do him justice and won’t look particularly impressive on LinkedIn.

I’d like something that speaks to his abilities when it comes to engaging people, and Nick doesn’t want to be called a ‘specialist’ of any kind (although I think it would be a fair description).

What do you call your volunteers or staff?


(Gear Buzz) #2

Engagement manager


(Bas van Leeuwen) #3

Nice, sounds like @Nick_Emmett is the perfect choice in this :slight_smile:

Why not call him Community Moderator? Is this too low-level for what you guys envision?
Or Community Manager?
Or Community Greeter?


(Darren Gough) #4

I quite like Community Champions. What does @Nick_Emmett think (and glad to have you aboard in this role, Nick)?


(Colleen Young) #5

Congrats @Nick_Emmett! Perfect choice.

@hawk I think the name of choice depends on whether this is just for Nick or if he is the first of a team you are trying to build. If it’s just for Nick, then tailor the name to his special qualities and with him. If it is for a team of people, then choose a name that personifies the primary role they will play. I like to find metaphors that suit a community culture. Would something from urban planning or hospitality work? What about Community Builder?

On Mayo Clinic Connect we have Greeters and Mentors, which suit a health community where people are learning to navigate their health and health care. The Greeters make sure they feel welcome when they first post (and are usually in a vulnerable situation - confused, scared, newly diagnosed, etc.) and Mentors have proven experience and commitment on the community and take on the role of moderating a certain area of the community related to their health experience. I’m just developing my group of Mentors. Boy, are they teaching me more than I am coaching them. I love this part of the job.


(Nick Emmett) #6

Great input all, thanks so far!
It’s a tricky one I think - I really like Wingman :slight_smile:

An example that @HAWK and I discussed was a suggestion from one of Hawk’s colleague - Community Engagement Specialist - which I Iike but was worried that the Specialist suggested a bit more weight than was appropriate! I think Engagement is a key part of whatever we settle on as that’s one of the directions I’m going to be (trying to) directly help with.

Great points and suggestions @colleenyoung - a future team of champions would definitely lead to a different outcome I reckon.


(MHCommMgr) #7

We call our volunteers Community Leaders, but I really like the names @colleenyoung uses at Mayo, Greeters and Mentors. Our leaders in certain communities really are mentors to newbies to a condition (such as Hep C, which can be a shocking initial diagnosis). And as a Community Manager, I’d really like them to focus more on greeting. Our Community Leaders do not moderate, they answer questions and hopefully foster discussion and welcome new members. @colleenyoung I’d be curious to know if you reward your volunteers, and how many volunteers you focus on for enrichment like you mention.


(Jennifer Zowada) #8

Welcome Nick! How does Community Engagement Facilitator sound?


(Sarah Hawk) #9

That’s bang on the money. Nicks’s role isn’t a moderation role, it’s about modelling behaviour and helping to build and define culture.


(Wouter Schrijvershof) #10

At GamePoint we are referring to our volunteers as hosts, this to steer away from the idea they are there just to keep everyone in line and give sanctions. They are there to help the players, greet them, help them find their way and teach the GamePoint way. Just like a offline host at, for example, a party.

Maybe Nick can grab some inspiration from this info.


(Colleen Young) #11

@MHCommMgr I’ve only just started the Mentor program on Connect. Currently, we have a dozen Mentors and they are helping me forge the role and the program. As you know, the motivation of paying it forward is strong in health. Once beyond diagnosis, many patients want to help make the journey better for others. As such, the reward for Mentors is recognition. I am doing this in a staged approach for the founding mentors and getting their input along the way.

@MHCommMgr what is your community?


(Sarah Hawk) #12

I like that.


(mark tilbury) #13

In various adoption campaigns for social collaboration and community technologies we’ve always created advocates to help the ‘meet, greet, explain, action’ process. They have gone under various names:

Green Hat - for an oil and gas company (its like a rookie’ on the oil rigs
Mercury Heroes for a global airline (Mercury was an old plane)
Cappunccinos for a professional service firm (most old knowledge was shared over a coffee.

None would probably look good on Linkedin though!


(Colleen Young) #14

I like metaphors like these @marktilbury that are specific to the community and the jargon they use.


(MHCommMgr) #15

I work for a site that’s had patient to patient communities since the late 90s. Paying it forward is a big motivator for us, too. How does your recognition work? What do you do to see that your mentors are recognized in a public way?

Our yearly reward, which is gift certificates in tiered amounts, isn’t a big motivator for members, and in fact is often not cashed in. Also because of the tiers and the subjectivity involved with those decisions, I think it more pits members against us then encourages participation.


(Priscilla McClay) #16

In my previous role on a large healthcare community, we had a volunteer programme like this. There were some small material rewards - we would send them cards at Christmas and for Volunteers’ Week, and send them small things like the charity’s branded items (eg, mugs, tote bags) or things that were normally sold in the charity’s online shop. But this wasn’t a public thing that the rest of the community would hear about - it was more like a nice gesture than a key motivator. As you say, I think paying it forward was a much bigger motivator.

In terms of public recognition, we had a banner with their role on it (“I’m a community champion”) that we put in as a signature so it appeared under all their posts - if people clicked on this it would take them to a page with more information about what the volunteers did. We found that they quite organically got a lot of public recognition and thanks from other members for their activity on the site. We would also sometimes write a blog post about their role, or feature one of them as a guest blogger to help raise awareness about what they did.


(MHCommMgr) #17

This is interesting, I like the idea of holiday cards and recognition during volunteers week. Our gift cards come during the holidays, but I don’t know if they are accompanied by any holiday wishes.

We do spotlights in our internal communications to these volunteers, but people rarely want to be spotlighted. I think the nature of some of their medical conditions makes them private.

Our volunteers also get a special icon that shows their volunteer status when they reply to messages. It also shows on their personal page but that doesn’t have info on what they do, though I do believe they do get organic recognition from other members.

Really enjoying hearing how everyone else’s volunteer programs work, keep it coming!