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E222 - Indigo Volunteers with Holly Penalver

“…it's hard to see the potential catastrophes that didn't happen because you collaborated…” – Holly Penalver

In this episode, we speak with Holly Penalver, CEO and founder of Indigo Volunteers. We discuss the power of collaboration and grass-root organisations, how to successfully manage volunteers and how charity leaders can combat isolation.

1. The power of collaboration and grass-root organisations

Indigo Volunteers supports grass-root organisations working on the ground to support refugees and displaced communities because they are uniquely placed to provide support the local governments aren’t able to provide. Due to the very nature of grass-root organisations, they are able to adapt and grow according to what is needed at that moment in time.

Collaborating with grass-root organisations, Holly prefers having the more personal approach of contacting partners over the phone. Conversations remind us that the person on the other end of the communication is human and could be under points of stress. Being flexible and adaptable to support the partner organisation is key to success for Indigo Volunteers and its umbrella organisations.

2. Successfully managing volunteers

Having a people-first approach to volunteering is key - no one person will respond to the work in the same way. Working in the charity sector means that we're passionate about what we do and we're keen to go the extra mile. However, working in such a challenging time can lead to compassion fatigue. Holly advises switching between front-line and office work as this can avoid burnout but also provide motivation when working in the office. We should also take breaks seriously! We can't support others until we ensure we're working and feeling our best.

Managing volunteer expectations is so important for volunteer retention, preparation and induction, and a clear line of reporting. In addition to being open to feedback and implementing it, remember that new members of the team can bring a fresh perspective to your work and how you operate.

Holly is happy to share Indigo Volunteer templates if you would like to improve your volunteer support. Please reach out to Holly

This episode of Charity Chat has been brought to you by our platinum sponsor Work for Good. Work for Good is a fundraising platform helping charities raise sustainable, unrestricted income from business sales. They are on a mission to help charities unlock some of the £2.3trillion in revenue that SMEs make every year. They do this by making the contract side - the commercial participation agreement - of sales fundraising, easy. The platform saves fundraisers and charities valuable time, thousands of pounds in resource and legal fees and streamlines supporter experience. And ultimately helps fundraisers raise more unrestricted income. To find out more, please visit

We hope you enjoy this week’s episode.

Related episodes that you may be interested in:

E199 - Compassion in action with Laura Hussey and Angus Clark -

E184 - Overcoming Imposter Syndrome with Confidence Coach, Jenna O’Keefe -

E159 – Empathy in the workplace with Ilana Jackman -


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