Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Invisible woman



I recently heard from a colleague who I hadn’t spoken to for a while. Though she lives on the other side of the continent that is Australia we connected through online forums on volunteer management and she published a few articles on our profession which I felt were excellent. Sarah (Which is not her real name)* has been a Volunteer Manager for years. Working in a well-known organisation I thought she was thriving. Then I found out she had resigned at the start of the year. I found out when I enquired that I had not seen her on forums or writing for a while. Sarah told me that she had resigned and was considering a new career in a new industry. I asked her why. Her short reply had me staring at it for awhile

“I got tired of feeling that I was invisible”

Why was I shocked – after all I had often heard similar sentiments from people in the sector. But I don’t think that anyone has described their position is such a stark and awful way. I was also shock because I had seen what Sarah brought to the profession with her writing, her support of others in the sector and how she had built volunteer programs with flair and innovation.

“I got tired of feeling that I was invisible”

It got me thinking about the ups and downs in my career. There are days when I have felt valued and supported and days when I have not. I have struggled with some who don’t get the concept of Volunteer Management as a profession and I’ve had to argue for ethics around volunteer management. I’ve written articles that people have loved and also written some that people have strongly disagreed with.

But I’ve never felt invisible. Empathy teaches us to walk in another’s shoes. I’ve tried to remember times when I have felt ignored. They have existed and it’s not a nice feeling. I tried to recall times I’ve felt unappreciated. Not a pleasant feeling either.

But to feel invisible?

How many more people out there feel invisible in their roles? All because they have chosen to work in this profession.

Sarah will never be invisible to me. But it’s a reflection on the sector itself.

Because sometimes I feel the volunteering sector is invisible. And when it’s seen – it is described as nice and fluffy and the backbone of society and the lifeblood of organisations. But where is our federal minister for volunteering? Where is the financial support for our national peak and state bodies? Where is the…I pause here. It’s a blog I’ve written a hundred times before.

And I will still write them despite the commentators who say “well -  what are you going to do about it?” and the “We need solutions and not more articles” and “Nobody builds statues to the critic”

Yes I remember those comments. I still see you. You are still visible.







Sunday, July 12, 2020

PS – best of luck to the new CEO!

“With the announcement of the resignation of our highly regarded CEO Adrienne Picone, the Board of Volunteering Australia have commenced a campaign to recruit our next national leader for Australian Volunteering.

Now this is a big statement found on Volunteering Australia’s Website. Finding the next CEO for this organisation will be challenging enough but looking for the next “national leader for Australian Volunteering” will be a mammoth task.
So, onto the site that is advertising this position and my Norton is already blocking it!

But onto Pro Bono Australia where I do find the ad

“To be considered for this role you will need to be a dynamic leader, with the ability to engage and develop lasting, positive relationships with passionate stakeholders at a national level, including partners, members, government, private organisations, community and Foundation Members (State/Territory peaks).
Your commercial and business acumen will ensure the successful delivery of key objectives whilst growing strategic partnerships that encompass revenue generation and organisational growth, to the benefit of both members and stakeholders.”
In my humble opinion this could be the template for several bland CEO positions.  Its almost a copy and paste.
An in-depth knowledge of driving national strategy across a federated model “I mean really. This will rule out countless could be CEOs for this organisation.
I was hoping to see the following
·         In a post COVID world you will lead…
·         Your thorough experience in volunteer management excellence will equip you …
·         Your honed advocacy and activist skills will lead…
·         Your ability to rethink leadership in a new reality will…
·         Your emotional intelligence and intellectual honesty will…
·         Your demonstrated passion for volunteerism will…
Why am I writing this? No – I am not going for the role. No- I did not ever go for the role.
But I want better for volunteerism in Australia. I have criticised ads for volunteer management roles in the past.
Before we can have a national leader of volunteering enshrined in a role we need an organisation that leads with confidence and assurance and bravery in this new era.
 Volunteering does not need to kowtow to anyone.  We make an enormous difference in Australian life. We deserve more respect and it is in the interest of stakeholders to develop excellent relationships with us.
No more the poor cousin Volunteering Australia.
PS – best of luck to the new CEO!