Thursday, July 1, 2010

Volunteer Management – Saying the stuff that others won’t!

Recently I read some government minister somewhere in some nation talk up volunteer managers along the lines of - they are not in it for the money - That the pay packet wasn’t the motivator - that it wasn’t the key motivator for those in volunteer management or words to that effect. Volunteer managers were in effect superheroes.

As a volunteer manager I cringe when I hear officials or CEOs or ministers or public servants give such speeches about volunteers! Not to mind Volunteer Managers!

The speech that says you are all so nice and wonderful people. The speech that focuses on how much a do gooder you are but not on what you truly bring to society and not on how volunteerism is such a dynamic movement in our societies. The what I call the “political pat on the head speech”
Not all speeches are like this granted.

When government anywhere has volunteer management in its sights then progress is being made for our sector.

“See the glass half full” “at least volunteer management is being mentioned” “baby steps are better than no steps”
While I understand these sentiments I can’t condone them.

No one will have challenged the minister for his statements. I could nearly bet on that. No one will have said “well excuse me minister but I love my job and also want to be paid a decent wage because I have a young family and a mortgage”. No one will have told the minister that while we understand why you have called volunteer managers “superheroes” many don’t consider themselves so. What if they consider themselves professionals doing a job and facilitating real and positive change in society? What if, parity of pay and respect in management was more important to some? What if recognition of the sector was more important than the pat on the head?
I am always pushing for proper recognition of the Volunteer management sector from agencies who utilize volunteers, the community at large and government.

We never hear pollies calling HR managers “superheroes”

Or Marketing Managers

Or Nurse managers

To me, the pollie did so based on the assumption that not all volunteer managers were paid and that even if they were paid that it was so noble a profession because they managed an unpaid workforce. Language is important. I get that. Recognition is important. I get that too.

But I think volunteer management cannot progress on baby steps any longer.

When I read the recent press release where the government minister was talking about volunteer managers I too was glad volunteer management was mentioned. Nevertheless some of the language used concerned me. I shared my unease on the language used with another colleague. While he agreed, to a point, with what I said, he said the most important point was the fact that Government was talking about volunteer management.

I, on the other hand can’t agree when people aren’t pointing out to the minister that certain language does nothing to advance volunteer management. I don’t get it when no one points out to the government what volunteer management is really about?

You know what?

I was reticent about posting these comments. People will come on this blog and attack what I say.

But this is a personal blog on volunteer management and I can’t mind my language.

You can disagree but do so by writing an alternative viewpoint. Don’t challenge the person – challenge the view! Let’s try that eh?

Mature debate will advance the sector of Volunteer management!!!

Government praise of “superheroes” won’t!

1 comment:

  1. I concur with you DJ. While I commend the government minister for acknowledging the existence of volunteer managers, the language that he uses is very much motherhood statements – nice and wonderful people, superheroes etc. This type of well meaning yet patronizing rhetoric does nothing to advance volunteer management. However it does illustrate the need for education of government officials about volunteer management as a profession. Peak bodies and advocacy groups, within the volunteer management sector, need to liaise with government officials and other key stakeholders to demonstrate the value of having experienced, talented and professional leaders in volunteer management.


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