Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Activism in Volunteer Management

What stops a View on Volunteer Management?

Today, after responding to an email from someone I got to thinking on activism and volunteer management.

We don’t have many activists do we? Sure we have experts and consultants and trainers and writers and the likes.

But what makes an activist? And do we need activists in volunteer management?

I say that we do

I hope that I am.

ac•tiv•ist –noun

an especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause, esp. a political cause.

of or pertaining to activism or activists: an activist organization for environmental concern.

advocating or opposing a cause or issue vigorously, esp. a political cause: Activist opponents of the President picketed the White House.

Is Volunteer Management political though?

The reason I muse on such things right now is recent conversations Ive had with people. It got me thinking on what stops people from speaking out.

I know of people who have told me that they don’t speak on certain matters pertaining to volunteer management because “it is too political”

A voice lost because of that perception in that instance is a shame.

I was once told that I may be perceived as a “trouble maker”. By someone in the industry. My thoughts were at the time “ and your point is?”

I don’t make money from my blog. I don’t charge for my viewpoint. I see my blog as a volunteering activity actually! An opportunity for me to be an activist for what I belive to be an important cause in our society!

A few activists have a say and make an impact in our sector.

Just a few people.

So can you imagine what could be achieved if more activists were harnessed, if more people felt that the sector of volunteer management merited their ongoing commitment and if national associations for volunteer management actually did what they are supposed to do!

Better that than the brigade who over utilize the incessant excuses of

• I’m too busy

• I want to continue sitting on the fence….it’s far more comfortable up here

• Oh. I can’t burn bridges….I must remain a friend to everyone

• Criticism of this or that may not be astute for me politically or economically even though it deserves criticism and or critical analysis!

Speak up Volunteer Managers

Have a say here

Write a blog

Write to your association for volunteer management

Because Volunteer Managers Matter!


  1. PPssstttt! Hey DJ - I'm the person back in the crowd. You'll know me by the turned up collar on the coat, and probably the absence of a hat - don't do hats, unless it's a hoodie, and that's a no-no where I come from.

    I called myself an activist a while ago. Didn't really work. Too inflamatory. Declarations and proclamations of intent not going anywhere. But I know what you mean. IE - if I don't stick my neck out we (managers of volunteers) are not going anywhere. Full Stop.

    Look - I'd join you in a shot. I love activism -gets the adrenalin going and lots of potential for achievement.

    Yeah right, you say, and you can hear the But coming...

    Well yeah - I know - I am doing promos on management of volunteers, raising questions, pushing a barrow, getting people to think.

    And then you remind me - I am taking the line of least resistance. Damn!

    Look - I'm with you all the way, I want you to know that, but I am committed to working within the boundaries of my environment. And I want you to know it is working!

    You don't have to let me off the hook or tell me I am taking the soft options. Just know I'm doing my bit for management of volunters which is just as active as your rousing activism.

  2. I remind you that you are taking the line of least resistance? Pray tell – where do I do this?
    My call to arms is really dedicated to those who may stumble across my humble blog and who have never had the courage to raise a voice. If I touch one I will have succeeded. If I move one person into action then it will have been worth it.
    I utilise the activist hat because I feel it fits well at the moment. The day I feel Volunteer Management is respected recognised and resourced then I will cast that hat aside and I will, due to my nature need to find another activist hat to wear.
    You already in my view are doing the work. And as you like to imply yourself – as a quite achiever. I admire that. But you don’t need my validation. I hope to reach the person who is beginning to think – “hang on a minute – I manage a dynamic volunteering team and the peanuts they pay me isn’t just!” My activism wants to reach out to that person and say – “Hey – let’s look at ways that you can change this perception of volunteer management within your own agency”
    I hope to reach the person who does not have the confidence to advocate for their own role…because I was once that person
    I hope to reach the person who is about to quit volunteer management because they see no future...because I was once that person
    A lot of people still see volunteering as nice and warm and fuzzy and as Martin J Cowling alludes to as a “cuddly toy”, and when that ill conceived feeling transfers onto volunteer management we have our issues.
    A truly independent voice in a democratic society does not have to work within the boundaries of any environment.
    What we do is more similar than what you think. We simply have different ways. No way is lesser than the other. Its horses for courses.


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