Volunteer Voice - Interview with Heidi Jokinen

To celebrate International Volunteer Day (5 December), we are launching a series of interviews with some of our brilliant, talented, and incredibly committed volunteers across the world. Volunteers play such an important part in making the Girl Guide and Girl Scout experience amazing, but what is it like to be one?

Heidi JokinenWhat’s you name?

Heidi Jokinen

Where do you live?


Which Girl Guide and Girl Scout organisation do you work for?

I’m volunteering for WAGGGS World and my special mission is to chair the Task Group on Volunteerism, which is part of the Working Group on Membership Growth.

How did you first get involved with the Girl Guides and Girl Scouts?

I joined the Guides and Scouts of Finland – my own WAGGGS’ Member Organization (MO) – when I was seven. 

How long have you been volunteering for them?

After joining the movement I’ve held several different positions; everything from being the Chief Commissioner to being a member of the Advocacy Group of WAGGGS' Europe Region. I've held my current position since January this year.

How often do you volunteer?

Volunteering for WAGGGS involves a lot of Skype calls and planning done by email. This I do almost daily, certainly many times a week.

What is your main role when you’re volunteering?

My task is to plan and execute the support WAGGGS gives for its MOs to help them enhance volunteerism in their organizations. This is an important part of the services WAGGGS provides for the MOs as most of them report significant challenges in recruiting new volunteers but also in keeping the ones they already have!

We all agree that recruiting and retaining volunteers is the key to growth and encouraging more members. Therefore it is crucial that all MOs focus on this issue. 

Can you describe a typical day?

Typically I start the morning with checking emails and usually there is something related to volunteerism - something that brings in an additional perspective that we hadn’t thought of before. 

Our MOs are very diverse in very diverse situations! You have small associations working in rural areas. Then there are big associations based in huge metropoles. There are boys and girls, young and old – literally you name it. we've got it. And we love hearing their perspective. It is only by knowing whom we work with and for, that we can plan adequate support measures. 

What are your favourite parts of volunteering?

I like solving problems, and the moment you see a solution start to unravel, that’s great. And I like discovering how similar our 146 Member Organizations are.

A big study on membership growth that WAGGGS published last year, the Northstar Report, shows that very similar challenges are a reality in most of our MOs. For example, new volunteers want easier entry procedures and current volunteers often feel they don't have enough time to volunteer. It’s inspiring to try to help all the different Member Organizations to find solutions to these issues.

Can you tell us about a happy memory or what has been your best achievement from these experiences?

A month ago WAGGGS organised a roundtable on growth in London, that brought together some 80 participants from around the world. It was great to experience and the brilliant atmosphere, and to see that all our Member Organizations are so committed to growing. If you weren’t there, do check the website that where you can see some of the highlights of the four days.

What do you do when you’re not a volunteering?

Lately I’ve been really excited about woodwork. It’s amazing to see the transformation of a piece of wood into a chair, or a shelf.

Why is volunteering for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts so important to you?

I very much believe in WAGGGS’ mission of helping girls and young women to reach their fullest potential. To achieve this mission we need all the volunteers we can get. And who knows, maybe for some girls and young women, volunteering with WAGGGS and their national MOs is the best way to reach their potential!

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