Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bring us to the plenary.

Volunteerism Gazette

Volunteer Manager Speaks at main plenary at National Conference

Our reporter Don J Volau reports from Asaba on a remarkable event that took place at the Asaba national Conference on volunteering


For the first time in its history the National Conference on Volunteering in the Republic of Asaba invited a Volunteer Manager to speak at its main plenary.

500 delegates heard volunteer manager Noah Rekonition bemoan the fact that his speech was a first. Reaction to the speech was mixed. One delegate who wished to remain anonymous stated that “it was full of self importance! – volunteers should get recognition , not managers!”. Others praised the speech including Cyril Underpayd who has been managing volunteers for 7 years “ I just enjoyed hearing Volunteer management mentioned!”

Organisers of the conference were unavailable for comment.

The following is an edited transcript of the speech (part 1)

Speech to National Conference – Bring us to the plenary.

Good morning

I am of course delighted to be asked to be one of the main speakers for the main plenary sessions for this National Conference on volunteering.

This moment is highly significant. Not because I, the individual, have been asked to address you today. No, it’s because a Volunteer manager has been invited to speak today.

And those of you who have been around volunteer management for some time now will understand this significance. Especially those of you with more than just a passing interest in the advancement of the volunteer management profession.


Before I go any further I want to focus very briefly on an important point. I am employed to manage volunteer programs. I call myself a volunteer manager. I will refer to volunteer management throughout this speech. I do acknowledge that some people here will have problems with this language.


I ask that we put semantics aside for now. For this speech when I say volunteer manager I am referring coordinators, managers of volunteers, administrators and directors.


I want to quickly move beyond that hurdle. That hurdle that we incidentally created ourselves within volunteerism.


But back to the significance of having a volunteer manager speak today.

For too long the voice of volunteer managers has been too quiet. For too long, the voice of volunteer management has been ignored. For too long the important role that volunteer managers play in volunteerism has been neglected.


The frightening part is that this has been generally speaking the case within volunteerism circles itself. Not just society or community in general.


Frightening? Is this too strong a word? I’ll say it again - The frightening part is that this lack of acceptance and recognition has, generally speaking, been the case within volunteerism circles itself.

It is frightening to those who see volunteer management as a profession.

As I do.

It is frightening to those who see volunteer management as a career.

As I do.

It is frightening to those who see the intrinsic link between volunteering and volunteer management.


Historically our National conferences on volunteering have focused on volunteers. They have focused on new trends in volunteering. They have focused on strategies to increase volunteering. They have talked about volunteer motivation, volunteer recognition, social capitol, building community etc. they have explored academic research in volunteering and have had main presenters and speakers from Government, the Corporate world, Community organisations, CEOs, founders of companies, academics, professors, Company directors, politicians, celebrities etc. Which is all well and good.

But until today, there has been no Volunteer manager speaking at the main plenary at a national conference about the vital role that is Volunteer management. About the profession that is Volunteer management. About the career that is Volunteer management.

But something has been happening outside of these plenary sessions. Especially in more recent times. Volunteer managers are getting together and speaking out on volunteer management. More managers are putting in papers and workshops for these conferences. More and more volunteer managers are looking at their careers as a profession!

There may be more like me out there who have attended national Conference on volunteering, maybe presented a paper or a workshop, and indeed like me may have gotten something out of the experience. But there may be some volunteer managers out there in the audience who like me have decided to count the number of times volunteer management has been mentioned at the main plenary sessions and have come away disappointed. The mentions could be counted on one hand - sometimes one finger.


I have wondered – “don’t we matter?

I have asked myself “if we can’t have our profession acknowledged within volunteerism itself what hope do we have in getting volunteer management better support and resources at the agencies wherein we work?”

I mean really – is that not a fair question?


But we do support volunteer management comes the cry from volunteerism.


To many degrees yes I will answer but Volunteer Management needs to be on the main page as well. Volunteer Management must be part of the main plenary at every conference on volunteering.

It needs to be on your agenda more.

When volunteerism consults with other sectors and government do they do so with the advice and wisdom of volunteer management incorporated in there somewhere?

It is in the interest of volunteerism that Volunteer management be supported!

It is in the interest of volunteerism that professional associations for volunteer management are given more say, a bigger voice onthe future of volunteerism!

It is in the interest of volunteerism that peak bodies give more credence to the voice that is volunteer management!

It is time that all the parts that make up volunteerism come together for the advancement of volunteering itself. It is time that we recognize each other’s important role.

We must pull together and not apart.

Volunteerism must be all inclusive.

It belongs to no one!

Volunteer managers have a lot to say. They are at the coalface after all each day. They have a lot to contribute.

Being here today, Saying this today Is significant.

As a volunteer manager. It sends a message to Volunteer managers everywhere.

And at least if you are sitting out there counting how many times volunteer management is mentioned at the plenary of a National Conference you have for the first time run out of fingers.

And that can only be a good thing.

So here we are. At long last. And what is it that Volunteer Management has to say? According to this Volunteer Manager.

It is simply this….

To be continued…………………….

Copyright Volunteerism Gazette 2010

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