Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Drama of it all! :-)

I haven’t been blogging for awhile because I have been immersed in a wonderful theatrical performance. We are just over half way through the shows for this musical comedy. I’m working with a wonderful cast of volunteers for this community theatre and it is fun but demanding.
Of couse I continue with my day job of managing a great volunteering service and of course when I get a chance I am always keeping an eye on what is going on in volunteering world as you can see from my Roving Eye Blogs just posted! Hope all of you are keeping well. Now back to rehearsing my lines for tonights performance!and as my charachter says in the play

" Always rememeber: if you keep calm and keep your head while those all around you are losing theirs...then you obviously don't understand the situation!"

Thank you speeches for Volunteers

I was a little surprised to see that my thank you speech to volunteers is the second most read post here on this site that mainly is concerned with advocating for the Volunteer Management sector. And I’ve discovered that a lot of people found this site by googling “thank you speech for volunteers”
Wouldn’t it be interested to know who is looking for such speeches

CEOs of organisations?


Volunteer Managers?

It’s also lead me to discover that there is a market out there for speeches and some websites charge for speeches including one I found selling thank you volunteer speeches! Wow!

So this leads me to thinking that maybe I should put some more thank you speeches on this blog. If CEOs and politicians are accessing them then we can have a hidden motive. We can speak better of volunteerism. We can talk of the true dynamic value of volunteerism. We can move them away from speeches such as this:

“As your member of parliament, Senator, minister etc I am so happy to be here today amongst you lovely people. Every time I think of volunteers I get a warm glow in my heart. When I think of you I think of warmth and comfort and nice cups of soothing tea with warm scones and jam. Without vollies, society would fall to pieces because you are the givers. Without you there would only be takers. And with a world full of takers then there would be nothing left to give would there? You are lovely. And you are also nice. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so nice. Now I look forward to having tea and scones with you and patting you on the head. You so deserve it. Go you good givers you!”

Sure – a bit exaggerated for effect but you get my drift.

So if you want to post your own thank you speech please do so on this blog. And let’s share!

Volunteer Management Polls - your ideas?

With only a handful of days to go to International Volunteer Managers Day can I encourage you to response to the two polls on my blog? I am getting some very interesting feedback so far but would love to see more visits responding. If every unique visitor was responding we would have much more input and data.

Answers so far have been very interesting. In particular I note in the question “What are your thoughts on International Volunteer Managers Day?” that 22% of the answers given don’t get the day or have never heard of it.

Very interesting answer too on the question seeking agreement or disagreement on the statement “”My peak body on Volunteering in my country supports Volunteer management”

28% are not aware they have any peak body on volunteering. It would be interesting to poll on these people further. Like where are they from?

Alos in regards to polls for Volunteer management. I would like to throw this open to you? Let me know what kind of poll would be interesting for Volunteer management? Post your ideas here and we might run with them!

Thank you Senator Ursula Stephens from Volunteer Management

During the week Senator Ursula Stephens moved a notice of motion in the Australian senate which stated

"Senator Stephens: To move on the next day of sitting—That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) five million Australians volunteer in their communities every year,

(ii) effectively realising the full potential of volunteers requires skilled,
knowledgeable and professional volunteer managers who are responsible for their
recruitment, training, administration and support,

(iii) volunteer managers provided leadership, direction, inspiration and
motivation that allows people to effectively serve their communities,

(iv) well managed volunteer programs demonstrate that organisations value the
involvement of the community and strive to make the most efficient use of
resources, and

(v) 5 November marks World Volunteer Managers Day, recognising and promoting
greater awareness of the role of volunteer managers in mobilising and supporting
the world's volunteers; and

(b) thanks Australia's volunteer managers for their commitment to our community
organisations. (general business notice of motion no. 81)"

Well done Seanator for being visionary. Please accept my online Volunteer Management Champion Award! And credit must go too to those who advocate for IVMD and Volunteer Management especially since other bodies, which should be, aren't!

Australian National Conference on Volunteering

Didn’t go this year. Various reasons. Thought it was costly and again felt that it was lacking a focus on volunteer management. Still I kept updated with some great updates from Pro Bono Australia who did a good job of covering the event. They should be invited to cover the next Australasian Retreat for Advanced Volunteer Management.

Some points I found interesting

Bernard salt told the conference that as baby boomers approach retirement age, they will not cease activities and will turn to volunteering. He said Not for Profit and other volunteer-involving organisations will need to package and market to this generation and their expectations.

Nothing new there for Volunteer management. We’ve been saying that for years!

How about Elaine Bradley from Ireland and what she said? CEO of Volunteering Ireland Elaine Bradley said that volunteer peak bodies need to move away from ideas of ownership of volunteering and move towards a decentralisation of volunteering infrastructure.

Wow – wonder what Volunteering Australia and the state peak bodies thought of that!

No one owns volunteering right?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Service Marmalade: World Exclusive

From Volunteerism Gazette

Our reporter Don J Volau reports on an unusual initiative taking place in November.

“What we are looking for is an online get together globally for those who know that volunteering is nice and very sweet. We believe that if volunteering had a taste it would be marmalade. Sweetly, sticky, traditional, unchanging pure volunteerism confined to a beautiful old fashion strong jar” So said the convener of Service Marmalade, Al Touristic, at the initiatives media launch today in New York New York.

Service Marmalade is being set up to represent those within service who are concerned that traditional volunteering is losing its way. Said spokeswoman Annette Curtin “Pure volunteering was always about service given by people who made long term commitment to organisations. People who were engrossed in the muck and mire of struggling society. We have no time for so called “emerging trends” in volunteering and believe such trends are fabricated and even if they do exist they give volunteering a bad name.”

When asked to expand on Ms Curtin’s statement Mr. Touristic said that “volunteering today was being hijacked by so called experts and consultants and interest groups and by the corporate world” I asked Mr. Touristic to explain further

“Now you take Volunteer Management” he said

“No thanks you take it” I retorted

He went on “Let’s not beat about the bush here – there are people out there for example with the nerve to think that managing volunteers is a sector or a specialized skill. Now give me a break please. We all know that volunteers don’t need management. The whole idea of the volunteering movement is that it does not need any one person to take a lead. We turn up. We know what to do! Don’t insult us by putting us into boxes and confining us by your training and orders and rules and regulations. If we wanted that we would return to the paid workforce!”

Service Marmalade will attempt to attract people with similar views around the world. Its Motto “I’m Nice and I volunteer” is intended to weed out those who volunteer for greedy reasons. “If people volunteer because they want to gain experience or a reference then we say that this is not real volunteering!” Said Marmalade Marketing Manager Ima Neejit. Ms Neejit explained “ what is this episodic volunteering all about? –it’s just a silly buzz word for people who couldn’t bother making an effort to volunteer more than once a week I say!. As for Corporate Volunteering?? Don’t get me started on this. Now there’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard of one.” When I asked Ima Neejit to explain how exactly that was an oxymoron she declined to answer and left the office.

Despite critics Al Touristic said that he expected good support for the Service Marmalade. “I am quietly optimistic that the odd national peak body will come on board for this.” When I asked him if they were indeed odd for considering attendance at his event he too stormed out of the room!

Copyright Volunteerism Gazette October 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Did you Jam?

I was service jamming for the past few days. Check my earlier posts or the link on the right hand side of the page if you don’t know what I am talking about. It was interesting. I saw some colleagues there and people who are followers of this blog. I wrote a few words. About guess what? Yes my pet topic: How the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle can be found using the Pythagorean theorem.

No. seriously I mused of course on Volunteer Management. It was good to see some volunteer coordinators and managers there with some great posts! However I don’t believe I can reproduce what I wrote there here on this blog. You can review everything that was discussed at the service jam on the site if you were a participant only. I do hope that they release the material to the general public. According to the website “IBM, in collaboration with key partners, will publish a white paper to summarize key findings and highlight creative ideas generated by Service Jam to share with participants. This document will reveal key trends in social innovation and will serve as a pragmatic guide to help organizations innovate, design and improve service programs”

Were you at the Jam? What did you think?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

IVMD and Volunteer management...WHO CARES?

With International Volunteer Managers Day quickly approaching I am endeavoring to work at taking the pulse of Volunteer Managers!

On my blog currently I have two pertinent questions:

Does your “peak body” on volunteering in your country support Volunteer Management? And what are your thoughts on International Volunteer Managers Day?

Important questions that take only a few clicks of your mouse.

Add your voice because your voice will matter in shaping our future direction!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Rambling reminiscing on a rainy afternoon

Rambling reminiscing on a rainy afternoon

Sometimes I am genuinely intrigued about what motivates us. About why we do what we do. I cant say that growing up I dreamt of working in volunteer management. One reason is of course that I had never heard of Volunteer Management.

Words. Words intrigue me too. In Volunteerism we have a lot of debates about words.

How many people out there are volunteers and don’t know it? Are Volunteer managers and don’t know it. Or managers of volunteers :-)

I remember years ago a person correcting me when I described them as a volunteer. “Oh no my dear, I am a member of the Auxiliary – I am not a volunteer’! In the last Australian census there was a question asking if people volunteered.

How many people would have said no to that and yet were board members with community organisations or involved with their kids sports by running the shop or washing the kits or driving the bus etc.

I volunteered for years in Ireland but never considered myself “a volunteer”. Sounds strange. If so step back from your familiar world of volunteerism for a moment and consider how then I simply saw myself as being a member of The Social Action Group, the organisation I was effectively volunteering for.

Many of us raised money for many causes, helped build houses for the elderly and cut peat for fuel for the disadvantaged in our communities. I smile when I reminisce on that now. Cutting and spreading peat (or turf as we call it in Ireland) has got to be one of the most unusual volunteering activities.

We would spend the day in the beautiful ragged countryside in "the bog" as it was known ( toilet humour folks – be quiet!) Some volunteers would cut the turf with an instrument called the Slaine and throw it towards other volunteers who would spread the “sods” of turf out on the land with pikes.

One side would then dry in the sun after a week or two ( what sun there was in Ireland!) and then we’d all return to turn or “stook” the turf for further drying. Stooking the sods involved building little houses of turf like you would with cards. Yes – you had to be there. It was back breaking work. But the tea and sandwiches at lunch time was a time to be cherished.

Volunteers would sit amongst the turf and wonder why tea tasted better in the open air, in the shadow of the mountains with only the odd house to be seen in the vast wild countryside. We would wonder at the frogs staring at us and listen to the cuckoo entertain us.

Then after another few weeks we would bag the turf (backbreaking again) and load it onto trailers and tractor it off to those who needed fuel in our community for the coming autumn and cold winter months.

We did this and other fascinating activities as volunteers. But we never used the term volunteer. And I imagine our leader never considered himself as a volunteer manager.

We were just helping, and doing it for various reasons. There were some who were genuinely altruistic.

Back then if someone had asked me if I was altruistic too I would probably have said “actually I am Irish. What part of Alturista are you from?”

Some did it because they were bored in rural Ireland! Some did it to socialize and some purely “for the craic”.

The seeds of my future were being set.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Please Don't Be Silent On Volunteer Management

In just under a month International Volunteer Managers Day will be celebrated on November 5th.

I have a poll on the day on my blog and I encourage everyone to have a say. I know how many visitors I have to my blog site and I know that it is a very small minority of them who vote on polls or write comments.

But IVMD is important for my sector I believe.

I say this as a Volunteer Manager.

It is not a day about self congratulation (though that is ok too)
It is a day that can be utilized as a vehicle for promoting our sector
It is a day that can be utilized for getting media attention (not that this has happened yet but I remain ever optimistic!)

And to me, as a Volunteer Manager, it acknowledges a profession that I am serious about. It speaks of a profession that is important in today’s society. It defies the old adage of “I’m just a volunteer manager” and thus strengthens the value in volunteering too.

Lastly but not leastly! There are some individuals who are volunteering their time to ensure IVMD is taken seriously. They need a little more respect though they will give out to me for saying so. They are people who care about volunteer management and work hard behind the scenes to ensure that we as a sector have a voice.

Support IVMD

Let’s get some more people, voting on my blog.

I am aware that there are some who do not support IVMD within our sector. I respect their point of view especially when they express that view in a public forum. I am disappointed by some, especially peak bodies who simply ignore the day.

I conclude with a wonderful quote from Ruth McKenzie, the CEO of Volunteer Canada

"As the leader on volunteerism in Canada, Volunteer Canada celebrates the profound impact volunteer managers have on the voluntary sector. Without their tireless work many of our essential community services would cease to function" states President and CEO Ruth MacKenzie, "Volunteer managers have a unique place in our society.

They are the hand that guides volunteers to support our communities, influence change and take action across our country. They motivate individuals to volunteer, create opportunities and provide support and nurturing to ensure that each volunteer has a positive experience. As volunteer managers make room for both their organizations and their volunteers to take the stage, on November 5th we have the opportunity to finally shine the spotlight on their impact.”

Friday, October 1, 2010


As most of you are aware Wikipedia is a free web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its 16 million articles (over 3.4 million in English) have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world
According to its own entry on Wikipedia – “Although the policies of Wikipedia strongly espouse verifiability and a neutral point of view, critics of Wikipedia accuse it of systemic bias and inconsistencies (including undue weight given to popular culture)”

I can’t help but like Wikipedia. I do question content sometimes but on the whole I believe a large proportion of it to be an honest and genuine contribution.

So given that this site is written collaboratively by volunteers around the world it intrigues me that there is not one article or entry on Volunteer Management.

My piece here in relation to Wikipedia goes to the invisibility of our sector outside the echo chambers I talk about. Well may we talk about progress in Volunteer Management but lacking an entry in wikipedia is indicative of a lack of awareness on our field.

Sure there are critics of Wikipedia. But Its content and methodology are not in question here.

Lets look at the cultural importance of Wikipedia (again from the site and their statements are referenced thoroughly)

“According to Alexa and comScore, Wikipedia is among the ten most visited websites worldwide.[ Of the top ten, Wikipedia is the only non-profit website. The growth of Wikipedia has been fueled by its dominant position in Google search results; about 50% of search engine traffic to Wikipedia comes from Google, a good portion of which is related to academic research. In April 2007 the Pew Internet and American Life project found that one third of US Internet users consulted Wikipedia. In October 2006, the site was estimated to have a hypothetical market value of $580 million if it ran advertisements.”

So why no entry on “Volunteer Management”?

While coming to the conclusion that no such entry existed I was intrigued by the entry’s on matters pertaining to volunteering

Let’s take a few examples and take samples see what they are saying:

Voluntary sector

“There are considerable problems with terminology, however. Although the voluntary, community and not-for-personal profit sectors are frequently taken to comprise the "Third Sector" each of these sectors or sub-sectors have quite different characteristics. The community sector is assumed to comprise volunteers (unpaid) whilst the voluntary sector are considered (confusingly) to employ staff working for a social or community purpose. In addition however, the not-for-personal-profit sector is also considered to include social firms”


Let me pick at random a comment from the discussion page:

“There is no standard internationally recognised and agreed definition of voluntary sector, voluntary organisation, community group, third sector, social enterprise, non profit organisation, NGO etc which provides neat boundaries between each one of these and the others. We could debate the boundaries between one and another ad infinitum.”

And this

in the 1960s, Ivan Illich offered an analysis of the role of American volunteers in Mexico in his speech entitled, "To Hell With Good Intentions". His concerns, along with critics such as Paulo Freire and Edward Said, revolve around the notion of altruism as an extension of Christian missionary ideology and the sense of responsibility/obligation driving the concept of noblesse oblige, first developed by the French aristocracy as a moral duty derived from their wealth. Simply stated, these both propose the extension of power and authority over indigenous cultures around the world.

Recent critiques of volunteering come from Westmier and Kahn (1996) and bell hooks (née Gloria Watkins) (2004).
The field of medical tourism (referring to volunteers traveling overseas to deliver care) has recently attracted negative criticism vis-a-vis the alternative notion of sustainable capacities (working in the context of long-term, locally-run but foreign-supported infrastructures). A preponderance of this criticism has appeared largely in the scientific and peer-reviewed literature. Recently, media outlets with more general readerships have published such criticisms, as well.

And in the discussion forum again

“The term "volunteer" is a hotly contested term, and the article should say so (with an appropriate citation). Go to any online discussion group of volunteer managers and you will see debates about who is and isn't a volunteer. Is someone a volunteer because of their motivation or because they aren't paid? There is no agreement on this question, and the article should say so.

To the entry on Virtual volunteering:

“Virtual volunteering has been adopted by at least a few thousand nonprofit thousand organizations and initiatives.[10] There is no organization currently tracking best practices in online volunteering in the USA or worldwide, how many people are engaged in online volunteering, or how many organizations are involving online volunteers, and studies regarding volunteering, such as reports on volunteering trends in the USA, rarely include information about online volunteering (for instance, a search of the term virtual volunteering on the Corporation for National Service's "Volunteering in America" yields no results”

All well and good but more interesting when you hit the discussion page:

“Wikipedia may be the largest instance of virtual volunteering, and Wikipedia pages frequently mention that their contributors are volunteers, yet no Wikipedia articles that mention their volunteers link to this article. Why? I'd love to create the links myself, but all Wikipedia-related pages are locked.” "

And this:

“I've posted to all the various online discussion groups for both volunteer managers and those who study volunteerism, encouraging them to edit this page and provide citations. I did this both in 2008 and 2009. Maybe I'll try again in 2010.” I wonder how that is going?

The point I make here is that there is some discussion on volunteering on sites such as Wikipedia.


1. Why no entry on volunteer management?
2. And why little contribution from the volunteer management sector on what is being posted on volunteering?

“well why don’t you post an entry yourself” I can hear one say!!

Perhaps I will. But it should be an aim of a professional association of volunteer management though don’t you think? It could be and should be a tangible outcome for them?

Such is our sector though that if anyone posts an entry under “Volunteer Manager” they will possibly be a big debate amongst ourselves again on semantics.

The author will get the whole

• How dare you call it volunteer management where the people are paid!
• The fights over definitions
• Etc.

Others may say that other management positions are not mentioned on Wikipedia


Here are some examples:
Human Resource Management
An interesting Wikipedia article that talks about
• 1 Features
• 2 Academic theory
• 3 Business practice
• 3.1 HRM strategy
• 4 Careers and education
• 5 Professional organizations
• 6 Functions
• 7 See also
• 8 References

Nursing Management:

Nursing management is performing leadership functions of governance and decision-making within organizations employing nurses. It includes processes common to all management like planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling. A good nurse manager should be open to anything in the environment and be sensitive to the needs of the staff under her/his management.
And there are others such as

Store manager
Marketing Manager
And other management groups that are valued and recognised

And here we are. Fighting the silly war of semantics.

And nobody is writing on volunteer management on Wikipedia!

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