Saturday, August 14, 2010

So why do I love Volunteer Management?

Is it the association with people who don’t walk into the office on Monday morning with a Monday morning face? Or the Friday volunteers who refreshingly don’t answer “I’m great it’s Friday!” when you ask them how they are at the end of the week.

For me it’s about the people. The different faces and characters you see each day. If you are not a “people person” you are not in volunteer management.

Is it, while walking the floor and seeing volunteers in action who don’t notice you watching?

I don’t know about you but they still inspire me. They touch that place deep inside that only a magnificent sunset or ridiculously high snow capped mountain can. You know the feeling. The wow factor. What is it about people who make an effort to change people’s lives or make a difference who are not motivated purely by money?

Is it the camaraderie and humour? Maybe it’s just in the places I have worked but volunteers I encounter have a wicked sense of humour. Or maybe they are reflecting mine! They get my silly sense of humour. Like when I opened up a major recognition event with the line – “Volunteers! All work and no pay!” Or when they ask me for a pay rise and I tell them I will double what they are currently on. Or when they walk into the office in the morning and say to me “another day another MMmmmmm”

Is it their honesty? Their ability to tell it like it is without worrying about their position as much as a paid person. Their ability and courage to spot injustice? I’ve worked in a couple of hospitals managing volunteers. Every few years hospitals go through the process of accreditation. In my experience every department of the hospital has come under the microscope including volunteer services. Rightly so. But the reason I mention this is the memory of one year when one of the auditors in a speech to all managers in the hospital at a summary of the review stated – “ it is important to properly recognise your volunteers – they are after all the eyes and ears of the hospital! It was a proud moment for me and for the team.

Is it the realization that volunteering is so much more dynamic than the traditional paradigm normally portrayed?

We are on the ground as Volunteer managers. We are at the clich├ęd Coal Face! But we see the skills volunteer bring. We see that the motivation is not always just altruistic. We see potential in new ways of volunteering. we embrace new ways and various settings where volunteering exists. We, the volunteer managers or coordinators or practitioners or administrators are spotting the emerging trends as they emerge and we sit back and smile with bemusement and amusement when we listen to the experts and academics postulate on such matters at conferences like they’ve made groundbreaking discoveries!

Is it because we have a POSITIVE story to tell?

There are so many. On the ground we see them. And there are so many layers to our positive and inspiring stories. We need to find a better way of capturing them.

So there I present a few reasons why I love the job I am in. The main reasons for me are volunteers themselves and the successes we share! Wendy Moore wrote recently on I-volunteer about how we should list our successes. I agree, for in Volunteer Management they abound!

"A most important key to successful leadership is your ability to direct and challenge the very best that is in those whom you lead." Anonymous

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