Tuesday, November 30, 2010



Previously in the Accidental Volunteer Manager: Mr. Bucket an incompetent assistant HR manager is transferred into the vacant Volunteer Management position at Hope Hospital. Working with a part time volunteer coordinator named Jan Mr. Bucket faces his first volunteer interview on his first day!

(Knock on door)

Mr. Bucket: Enter!

(a young guy enters the room aged in his early twenties.)

Alex: Good morning!

Mr Bucket: Yes. Am..you sure you are in the right place?

Alex: I think so - you the volunteer boss yeah?

Bucket: actually manager of volunteers.

Alex: Sweet - I’m in the right place then

Bucket: Good lord!

Alex: eh?

Bucket: Nothing..please take a seat

Alex: Thanks mate

Bucket: I didn’t catch your name?

Alex: Its Alex..Alex Cartwright

Bucket: Well Alex can you tell me why you are here today?

Alex: Well I was looking to volunteer at your hospital

Bucket: I see…and what do you do Alex?

Alex: Well I’m between jobs at the moment

Bucket: Unemployed then?

Alex: Yeah..But looking…thinking of working in the health field maybe some day

Bucket: In a paid capacity?

Alex: eh? Why yes

Bucket: I have to tell you straight up Alex, lest there be any confusion. We don’t pay our volunteers.

Alex: I beg your pardon?

Bucket: I’m afraid our volunteers work for free!

Alex: I’m not too sure where you are going with this?

Bucket: I am just checking that you are not thinking that you are applying for a paid position!

Alex: Ok. I’m getting a little confused here. I was after some volunteering opportunities

Bucket: and you know that means it’s for free?

Alex: are you kidding?

Bucket: absolutely young man – we do not pay our volunteers

Alex: Well excuse me for just one moment here Mr Shovel I know exactly what a volunteer is! ! !

Bucket: what what? Please don’t raise your voice and its Bucket thank you!

Long pause

Bucket: it seems that your motivation for volunteering is …how do I say it in a nice way…a little self centered yes?

Alex: what do you mean?

Bucket: it just seems to me that you want a volunteering job as a leg up to a career in the health field! !

Alex: well that’s just a part of it yes

Bucket: and there are other parts?

Alex: Of course! I want to be able to be there for people who need someone to chat with or give hand and foot massage to patients or,,

Bucket: you do massage?

Alex: Yes I am a trained masseuse

Bucket: Good grief!

Alex: Good grief why?

Bucket: well I just didn’t think men were into it that’s all!

Alex: I see.

Bucket: Look I’ll be Frank Alex

Alex: so its Frank Bucket then

Bucket: what what?

Alex: sorry.an attempt at humour to lighten this strange experience

Bucket: strange for you is it Mr. Cartwright? Well let me be straight up then..Because I don’t want to waste your time and I hope you don’t want to waste mine. Our volunteers are Alchewrealistic you know….dont look befuddled…I looked it up in the dictionary today you know! We are looking for people who want to help others without helping themselves. We also want volunteers who can commit for a number of years not people who will leave just because they get a job. You are not the right fit for our organisation. I am not too sure you understand what a volunteer is so I hope you appreciate my honesty in saying that we don’t have a position for you here.

Alex: Thank you. In fact I am very grateful for your honesty Mr. Bucket

Bucket: why, I am glad that…

Alex: Because I would be horrified volunteering for such an incompetent ignorant and clueless so called volunteer manager like you!

Bucket: What what? Excuse me How dare..

Exit Alex!

Bucket..why…I never!

Enter Jan

Jan: well how did that go?

Bucket: I am sure we have a reject letter Jan. if so can we please send him 10 of them!

Jan: what? He seemed such a nice guy when I spoke to him

Bucket: whatever! Any messages Jan while I was busy?

Jan: actually yes – we had a chap from the Times call

Bucket: The Times newspaper?

Jan: er yes..he said he was calling the odd volunteer manager looking for some comments on International Volunteer Managers Day

Bucket: goodness! What did you say?

Jan: I said he was calling the right place if he was looking for the odd volunteer manager

Bucket: Very funny Jan I’m sure. Did he leave a number?

Jan: Of course

Bucket. Fantastic. I will call him back

Jan: do you even know what International Volunteer Managers Day is about?

Bucket: well the title makes it a little obvious Jan does it not?

Jan: and you think you can handle an interview on volunteer management with a major media outlet do you?

Bucket: Oh Jan. ye of little faith! I may have only commenced my first day in volunteer management but I come from HR remember? And look how I handled today’s troublesome interview what what?

Jan: er…indeed! Well I can’t wait to see this

Bucket: Excellent Jan…I knew I would win you over to my style of management. Now give me that number and I shall call them straight away what what?


Thursday, November 25, 2010

A letter from two young volunteers to inspire Volunteer Management !

Today I was moved. In a way I haven’t been moved for awhile. I manage a volunteer program at a wonderful hospital in Australia.

I have a passion for my occupation for many reasons. Quite simply I love it ! yes – a simple statement but so simple in its truth. I know most of you feel the same. When you are asked what you love most about your job how do you respond?

For me it always comes back to the people. The people I work with. Whether that be the wonderful staff who coordinate daily activity or the volunteers who truly inspire me.

But let’s be honest. One can become a little complacent at times. Let’s be real here. The job can be challenging at times. Managing and coordinating volunteers encompasses much. As a leader you need to be switched on 100% of the time. A job as important and vital as yours demands much. You must work hard to ensure your program runs smoothly. Sometimes we get so busy and lost in that busyness that we forget the “why”. Why am I doing this in the first place?

Where I work there were two 17 year old volunteers who volunteered at the hospital for a year. They have both just retired from volunteering as their study now will involve an absolute full time commitment. They both hope to return to volunteering in the future.

They made a large thank you card together. In it was a letter. It was written by both volunteers.This is no ordinary letter. It is a heartfelt letter from two young ladies on how volunteering has changed their lives forever. I was going to save publishing this until International Volunteers day on December 5th. But then I thought that some of you might want to use this inspiring letter for your own recognition events.

It is a letter from 2 volunteers named Charini and Lisa. I have sought their permission to reproduce.

It is a letter that brought a tear to my eye. It is a letter that confirmed why I love the job that I do. It is a letter that I believe every young person who is considering volunteering should read.

Too often our youth get a bad rap. This is a letter to shine the positive light on youth that so many deserve.

I hope you get out of it as much as I did. Feel free to share.

Volunteerism is in good hands if this is the general view of our future generation. With thanks to Charini and Lisa – here is their letter slightly abridged to protect identify:

Dearest DJ, Wendy and Volunteers,

Exactly a year ago, we had just completed the most stressful year of our lives and had finally graduated from school. Although we were elated at the prospect of never having to fold down our socks again, we were at a major crossroad with numerous life-changing decisions to make. At this stage, we are still unable to say if we chose the right paths with many of those decisions. However, we are able to say that one of the earliest choices we made was, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best. That decision was, of course, to volunteer at your hospital.

We breezed through our interview and from that moment we both knew that it was here that we’d learn precious lessons about life whilst making as much mischief we could without getting into too much trouble…..

At first we found volunteering very challenging, especially conversing with patients. I (Charini) remember on my second day, I was partnered with Andrew+ and we were talking to an elderly gentleman. The conversation was quite light and humorous, when, out of the blue, the patient said “I lost my leg”. This was the first time a patient had discussed such a personal issue in front of me and my mind went completely blank. I don’t remember the rest of the conversation because I was so shocked. However, I must have been listening to Andrew subconsciously, because only a few months later, I met a lady who confided in me that she was going to die. To this day, that is one of the most dreadful sentences I’ve heard. This time, I was a little more prepared but at the back of my mind, I kept asking myself,” What can you do that’s of any use to this lady? You have no medical training. You’re only 17, you don’t know anything about death. How can YOU help?” By the time I left her room, half an hour later, I had my answer. I could make her smile. And that, I realised, is the power of a volunteer. That is the gift we give.

Another time, I (Lisa) met a gentleman in his 90’s. We had been talking for quite some time when I realised his feet had not stopped moving throughout our entire conversation. When I asked him about it, he explained that he loved to dance and took his wife out every Friday night to do just that. Dance. The simplicity of his story was awe-inspiring. It was a story of courage, love of life and pursuing dreams. It made me think, “If this gentleman can go dancing every week despite the various health issues facing him at his age… What can I do? What will I achieve?” One day, I will be able to answer these questions and on that day, I will remember the man who taught me that not even the sky is the limit.

This year has been a tremendous year and a phenomenal experience for us both. It goes without saying that it would not have been such an amazing year without each and every one of the volunteers whom we have met and even those we have yet to encounter. For the incredible memories you’ve given us, thank you. Thank you for welcoming us into the volunteering circle with such warmth and acceptance. Thank you for your friendship; your bright shining faces and vibrant, loving personalities have made us look forward to coming in every week. It’s so heartening to know that there is a group of people with a wealth of life experience in the community who are willing to give their time to help others.

A special thanks must go to both DJ and Wendy for guiding us, supporting us and letting us learn from our mistakes. Both your jovial and compassionate personalities are so illuminating it is undeniably evident even through your phone greetings. Thank you for blessing us with the opportunity; words cannot express just how grateful we are.

And so we leave you with just one more story…..
One day, we met a patient called Graham+. In a word, he was amazing. We must have sat with him for at least an hour and a half before being called away. He gave us new perspectives on life, he gave us stories of childhood and he promised to make us lunch if we ever went to his home town. In turn, we gave him laughter, our hopes and dreams for our future and of course more, more laughter. We never saw Graham again but he has always stayed with us. And we’ve truly come to believe that for every volunteer, there is a “Graham”. So watch out for him. He’s out there. “

These two young people had the courage to write this letter. I hope the fact that countless people in your own programs doing amazing things inspires you ! Never forget how awe inspiring and life changing your occupation can be !

+names have been changed

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Reaction to the Accidental Volunteer Manager

I’ve been blown away by the reaction to this little piece today. The site hasn’t had so many visitors in one day since I started this humble blog in March this year. Thanks everyone for their comments and ticks here but I’ve also received a number of emails off this site asking when the next installment will be produced?

Well, I originally wrote this piece as a way of expressing things through a humorous medium. Obviously in a very very short time it is striking a chord. Why is that? I think that could be a topic for a blog on its own. Maybe we all need a bit of a laugh. Maybe we all need to lighten up a little. Maybe we identify with what is going on here. A laugh maybe but in some ways sadly true! Or not sadly but frustratingly true!

Perhaps I won’t psychoanalyze it too much!

I am hoping that excerpts from the “Accidental Volunteer Manager” will be published twice a week. That is a hope not a promise as one will need the humour gene to be active. But I will try.

How long will it last. A one act play? And entire epic? Well. That could be up to you.

But watch out for part two of “The Accidental Volunteer Manager” this week and thank you for sharing the humor. :-)

“If you remain calm and keep your heads while those all around you are losing theirs – then you obviously don’t understand the situation”

Saturday, November 20, 2010

World Premier Exclusive! "The Accidental Volunteer Manager" A Play by DJ Cronin

The Accidental Volunteer Manager
© DJ Cronin 2010
Brisbane Australia

Setting: Hope Hospital
Scene 1:

Hospital Board meeting

Chair: Right then, that appears to be all that we have to discuss unless there is any other business

Director 1: Oh yes – I forgot to mention – we’ve lost our Volunteer Manager

Chair: We had a volunteer manager?

Director 2: We have volunteers here?

Director1 : Indeed we do - 200 to be precise and their manager just had a heart attack.

Chair: How terrible – so we need a new volunteer manager then?

Director 1 : Indeed we do

Chair: Mmmm. Are they paid?

Director 1: indeed they are

Director 2: Why are they called volunteer manager then? Imagine me being called Volunteer director of nursing? Haw haw haw.

Chair: Right..so we recruit internally or externally?

Director 3: well actually this could be an opportunity for us at HR. I recruited someone to the position of HR assistant manager a few months ago

Director 2: not the unfortunate named Mr. Bucket?

Director: Yes: the very man. He’s not really working out for us but we could transfer him to this voluntary manager role or whatever it is

Chair: Ok. Make it so. And then can you please ensure we get someone competent this time for the HR role? Good. Meeting over then.

Scene 2:

HR Managers office

HR Man : Thank you for taking the time to see me Mr Bucket

Bucket: Look, I know things haven’t worked out so you can save the crap and tell me to go now. It’s the end of my probation period anyway

HR Man: Well yes Mr Bucket, obviously we’ve had some issues but I still see you as having a future with our hospital and in fact we would like to offer you another managerial role

Bucket: Really? That’s great:

HR Man: well yes, er..you will need to take a drop in wages though

Bucket: Oh

HR Man: a substantial one in fact…but this role will give you a chance to prove yourself. See it as a stepping stone back into more senior management again

Bucket: Good grief – what are you offering me here - management of the morgue?

HR Man: Not quite. The volunteers

Bucket: The volunteers? Me? To manage? But…I’ve never done that before

HR Man: It will be a cinch. It will be the ideal training ground for you to attain a good position in Human Resource Management

Bucket: Look, ive seen them around the place in their purple tops but I haven’t a clue what they do?

HR Man: Apparently no one else in senior management knows either…heheeh..so don’t worry

Bucket: How many volunteers do we employ?

Hr man: None! They are not paid remember?

Bucket: Ok how many volunteers exist here?

HR Man – apparently 200 or so

Bucket: Good grief. When do I start?

HR Man: as soon as you leave this office. We do have a lady by the name of Jan. Apparently she works as a part time volunteer coordinator 3 days a week. She will meet with you at your new office and fill you in on what you have to do. Apparently she is very sweet and nice and has been in her role for 20 odd years.

Bucket – and that’s it?

HR Man – Yes. Good luck.

Scene 3

Volunteer manager’s office

Knock on door

Bucket: Come in please…ah..you must be Jan our volunteer coordinator

Jan: Yes hello Mr. Shovel

Bucket: Its Bucket Jan

Jan: Goodness. I am so sorry

Bucket: Never mind – please have a seat. Now Jan. I won’t beat around the bush. I am the new manager of this area and I’ve had years managing different departments. I’m a fair man but I expect my workers to work hard and to be tight and to meet all deadlines. I expect loyalty to me and to the company. I want our department to be results driven. And I will tell you this straight up Jan..I will not tolerate slackers on the team.

Jan: er…ok….have you managed volunteers before?

Bucket: No Jan I have not. And that’s neither here or there right now.

Jan: Ok..do you know what they do?

Bucket: I can have a guess. I imagine mostly stuffing envelopes and making charts. I would hazzard a guess that most of it is menial stuff as our retired community don’t exactly want anything too taxing in their twilight years what what?

Jan: What?

Bucket: What?

Jan: You said what what?

Bucket: Did I? Never mind. So tell me how do you coordinate the old dearies?

Jan: if I may say Mr. Bucket, your impression of the volunteering team is very wrong to begin with. In fact the makeup of volunteerism has changed dramatically over the years and we are dealing with varying dynamics now in volunteering whether those be the motivations for volunteering, the demographics both culturally and age wise in volunteering and of course the episodic nature of the volunteering act that has challenged us to be more flexible and indeed more dynamic in how we coordinate this shifting and fluid movement.

(There is a long long pause as Mr Bucket stares at Jan gob smacked)

Jan: Furthermore I must inform you that our volunteers vary in age from 16 to 92. Volunteers will not stay if they are given sedentary and menial jobs unless of course those types of tasks are of their own choosing. The motivations for volunteering are not just altruistic Mr. Bucket

Mr Bucket: Altruistic? Please explain?

Jan: I suggest if you are going to be our manager that you look up that word in the dictionary. Furthermore may I suggest you read up a little on Volunteer Management?

Mr Bucket: I beg your pardon. I will not tolerate such insolence on day one from you and…

Jan: and I will not tolerate such ignorance from you on day one! You have debased and insulted volunteers in your first 30 seconds. These people do a wonderful job here day in and day out and I am getting sick of people being given the role of volunteer manager without any thought. People who are using it as a stepping stone into something else. People who take on the role because they feel it’s safe and cuddly and people who take on the role because they feel they wouldn’t be able to get away with managing any other sort of program!

Mr Bucket: well why didn’t you go for the job yourself then?

Jan: Because it wasn’t advertised this time! And as a matter of fact I have been offered the job before. But I can only work part time due to family circumstances. I turned down the position of manager because I feel part time would not do it justice..and I said as Much to the powers that be. This is a very busy volunteer program Mr Bucket and getting bigger. It deserves a serious and professional full time manager!

Mr Bucket: I see. Let’s move right along shall we. So your office is in the next building which is called the volunteer shack and there are volunteers working there too around some tables doing some sort of work I believe..

Jan: Yes..if I can take you through the roles that our volunteers..

Mr Bucket: Yes yes yes..we shall get to that later. I believe you’ve also written a report on daily activity. I will catch up on that today. I see you have set up a team meeting for tomorrow. Excellent I can get to know our volunteers. Are all of them coming?

Jan: all of them? Good grief no. We have around 40 attending

Mr Bucket? : Only 40? Out of 200? That’s not good. Did you not make the meeting mandatory?

Jan: Mandatory?

Mr Bucket: Oh never mind. I guess I will catch up with all of them eventually what what?

Jan: er…sure. Now if you will excuse me I do have an interview to do.Shall we catch up later?

Mr Bucket? A volunteer interview? Excellent! I will take it Jan.

Jan: are you sure?

Mr Bucket? Of course. What role are they applying for?

Jan: they haven’t specified. He wants to volunteer somewhere in the hospital and is coming in to discuss options.

Mr Bucket: He?

Jan: yes. Why?

Mr Bucket: oh nothing. I just thought that women mostly volunteered.

Jan: Actually no. 40% of our volunteers are male

Mr Bucket: Extraordinary.

Jan: why is that so extraordinary?

Mr Bucket: I just didn’t realise men were into it

Jan: Oh good heavens.

Mr Bucket: right right. Send whoever he is in to me.

Jan: ok..do you want me to sit in on the interview with you?

Mr Bucket: absolutely not! I am sure you have some work to be carrying on with:

Jan: but you don’t even know what positions we offer

Mr Bucket: I have our brochure here with all we do – I will be fine. Don’t you worry about me. I have conducted hundreds of interviews in my HR positions

Jan: That’s what I am worried about

Mr Bucket: what what?

Jan: Never mind. Our prospective volunteer is waiting Mr Bucket

Mr Bucket: wonderful! Send him in. Oh..by the way..how long do you usually spend on interviews?

Jan: about 45 minutes to an hour

Mr Bucket: Good grief..whatever in heavens name do you spend all that time on? Never mind. Send the bloke into me please!

To be continued……

Tune in next time for the continuing saga of “The Accidental Volunteer Manager”! Watch Mr Bucket conduct his first volunteer interview, meet members of his team and stumble from one disaster to another…and this only on day one!
Will he survive? Will Jan survive? will volunteers survive?

Come back for more and see why the critics are raving about “The Accidental Volunteer Manager”

“Cutting edge……if you never read another play let this be it’” The Irish Sparrow

“ Mr Cronin has gone too far this time. His sarcasm turns my stomach” The Cameron Times

“ Mr Bucket is our modern day hero” – HR Views

"this is a very good representation of reality in some places. This would rival "The Office" or "The Librarians" as a TV series." - Wendy Moore, Volunteer coordinator, writer and international thinker.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

AAVA Award Winner announced - Well Done Heather Moore!

Relieved to see that AAVA, the professional body for volunteer managers in Australasia have at last, posted some info on who won the AAVA 2010 Volunteer Manager Award of Excellence.

This is what their website says

Heather Moore.

Heather is the General Manager of Volunteering Waikato in New Zealand and she is recognized for the following attributes:
• Ability to take the organisation from where it was to a different/better place through exceptional management of volunteers
• Contribution to expanding the profile and recognition of volunteering within and beyond her organisation
• Influence with funders and partner organisations
• Effectiveness in increasing the organisations capacity to support local communities
• Invests in engaging with groups that might otherwise be taken for granted or marginalised e.g. youth, new migrations, people in rural and remote towns
• Lives and breathes volunteering
• Strong creative management examples supporting her application

Poll result

Survey Results

In a recent poll on this blog 40% of respondents stated that they did not believe that their peak body for volunteering in their country supported Volunteer Management!
33% believed that their peak body did while 26% didn’t even know that they had a peak body for volunteering in their country!

Accept your lot in Volunteer Management and don't take it out on Volunteers!


Came across an article in the Conductive Chronicle. Never heard of that before but I get alerts whenever Volunteer management is mentioned. The article is all about preparing for Volunteers and placing them into appropriate positions which is all well and good but it was this particular paragraph that got my Irish up.

“As a volunteer manager, we have certain obligations. As much as we may be overworked, underpaid and possibly even under-appreciated (never!), we certainly don’t want to make any of that our volunteers’ problem. Here’s how to make sure your volunteers and your organization are reaching a mutually beneficial arrangement.”

There is so much wrong with that on so many levels. It smacks of defeatism. It’s a little pretentious and it devalues ethical behaviour in Volunteer management. I am unclear on what the authors experience of Volunteer management is but Ive yet to encounter a colleague grumbling about how lowly paid they are and how the volunteers will suffer for it!

Also, as Volunteer Managers we need as sector to ensure that we are not overworked, that we are not underpaid and that we work on building recognition for our field. We need to do this collectively as a sector. We need to be louder than the self perpetuating martyrs who accept their lot and thrive on the victimhood of “just a volunteer manager” mentality!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Why Volunteer Management must be inspiring!

"Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must yourself believe."
– Winston Churchill

Our capacity as Volunteer Managers to inspire is enormous. Like other facets of volunteer management that we ourselves seem to not recognise, inspiring people is one of the strongest traits I believe in effective and progressive Volunteer Management.

To look at this in real simplistic terms we first look at our programs and teams.

Sometimes the simplest yet amazing fact passes us by. We are people who manage and lead and coordinate people who are in our team for various reasons and motivations. They are not paid. Therefore to retain these people there must be a number of factors:

• The cause
• The motivation
• The leader

Three equally valid reasons for volunteer retention in my view. I know some can exist without the other. People volunteer for organisations and couldn’t give a hoot about the cause for the organisation because their motivation is based on some other factors. I know people who continue to volunteer for organisations even though their view of the volunteer management style is somewhat negative yet the cause of the organization sustains them. And perhaps there are those who are simply retained because they arrive at some place of satisfaction or self worth due to Volunteer management.

So taking the above paragraph aside for just a moment I want us to contemplate on the role of the inspiring Volunteer manager in retaining volunteers, in having an impact on the organisation they work for and having an impact on the field of volunteerism themselves. For this is the potential power of Volunteer Management.

Volunteer management is powerful. Not potentially so. It is.

Our profession within volunteerism is akin to a box of matches. It only takes a few strikes to light it up. Think IVMD. Think retreats for Volunteer Management. Think effective associations for Volunteer Managers. Think individual Volunteer Managers networking. Think people in our profession who not only write on our issues through blogs and articles but those who respond and engage in dialogue.

We fail too often to see the inspiring quality of our field. Do we miss the tree for the forest? Isn’t volunteering powerful? Isn’t volunteering inspiring?…..just think of the superlatives you can link to the word “volunteering”

Then think of the capacity for effective Volunteer Management to inspire!

Where am I heading ?. I am heading towards such simple formulas for Volunteer Management that I wonder why its existence isn’t so prevalent and it’s this.

Effective Volunteer Management = Effective volunteer programs

Inspiring volunteer leadership = inspiring volunteering stories

An organisations view of and value in effective Volunteer Management is directly proportional to its view of and value in its volunteers!

The last one is a vital formula for our sector!

The word “effective” is there for a reason. Poor Volunteer Management can effectively ruin volunteerism within an organisation.

I will come back to “effective” Volunteer Management another day. And what I think that might mean.

Volunteering is inspiring. It is powerful. It is dynamic. It is simply awesome. No ifs and no buts. If organisations are privileged to have volunteers then they must realise this too!

It is your responsibility however to inspire and educate up on Volunteer Management within your own organisation.

How are you doing this? Let us know. How do you inspire others as a leader?

"Leadership is not magnetic personality, that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not "making friends and influencing people", that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations."

- Peter F. Drucker

Did we get a mention????

From the Volunteering Australia website:

“There was a special forum in Bonn Germany on 8/9 November as part of the consultation process for the development of the UNV State of World’s Volunteerism Report.

This first State of the World‘s Volunteerism Report (SWVR) produced by the United Nations will present an alternative vision to the one widely prevailing today, regarding what volunteerism is and why it is important. Using a broad brush, it will address first what is meant by volunteerism, why people volunteer their time, what are the ways people choose to volunteer, and the impact of this volunteer engagement.

The Report will then take up a number of key global issues that intersect with volunteerism, selected because of their critical nature and/or because of ongoing polarized discourse around them. The final section of the Report will be forward looking with conclusions and recommendations that should assist policy makers, practitioners, researchers and all other concerned stakeholders; including the people who participate in, and direct the benefits from, volunteer action.”

Very interesting. Let’s hope there was consultation with the Volunteer management sector in the world. Because..it matters wouldn’t you say?
Do you think?

I do know that the CEO of Volunteering Australia attended so it will be interesting to hear some feedback.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A final comment on International Volunteer Managers Day 2010 via an open letter to many.

Dear IVMD committee

Thank you for your tireless work year in and year out in your efforts to have the profession of Volunteer Management recognised and understood. All of you, volunteers, deserve the respect and praise that is rightly yours. Don’t give up on your cause because there are many people behind you. While I may be vocal in my support please understand that some may not have the confidence or indeed time to express their support.

Dear people who are ideologically opposed to the day and have publically engaged in the debate while still demonstrating their support for Volunteer Management

Thank you for your support of Volunteer Management. Thank you for engaging in healthy debate and I look forward to more discussion with you in 2011!

Dear Media

Once again you were totally absent! However I acknowledge that the Volunteer Management sector and the Volunteerism sector are to blame for this. We need to work harder collectively to spread the message

Dear Facebook

Credit must go to you for allowing a forum to spread this global message

Dear Volunteering Australia

You are the peak body for volunteering in my country. You do some great work. Yet the perception I and others have is that you totally “dissed” this day. As a volunteer Manager who is passionate about my job and volunteering, I was hurt by this. If my perception is wrong please correct me. But I simply appeal to you to drop the politics and embrace the day for the good of unity in volunteerism. One day VA will celebrate the day. Why not now? Please don’t give me material for another blog next year!


My professional association for volunteer management in Australia. A mere mention of IVMD on your website doesn’t cut it. Please see my “Dear Volunteering Australia “ comment above and please be more vocal for my profession! Perhaps you are making strides to support our sector but we need to know this. We need to see some evidence of this. Please be louder in championing our cause AAVA.

Dear Senator Ursula Stephens

Thank you for moving a motion in support of our sector in the Australian senate!

Dear Volunteering Calgary

Your YouTube video inspired Volunteer Managers globally!

Dear Fingal Volunteer Centre

Your support for Volunteer Management stands out internationally! You inspire me!

Dear e-volunteerism

Thank you for your offer to Volunteer Managers globally with free access to your site for a period! A tangible recognition award for VMs globally! Great vision!

Dear state peak bodies for volunteering

Thank you to the state peak bodies in Australia who organized events for Volunteer Managers in their states. You know who you are! The ones who didn’t bother? We hope you try harder next year. You know who you are!

Dear everybody else who supported the day globally!

Thank you from a Volunteer Manager!

And finally

Dear Volunteer Managers, Coordinators, :eaders Administrators etc. who celebrated the day..

Hope it was fun! Hope you felt valued! Hope you continue with your brilliant profession and hope you continue to spread the IVMD word!

One day IVMD will be globally recognised for what it is…

Long live volunteerism and those who are leaders and managers and coordinators within the field!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Volunteer Management: The Final Frontier

I remember reading an article sometime ago, or maybe an opinion piece from Susan J Ellis about mentions of “volunteering” in popular media for example movies and TV shows. Susan had spotted a few examples and had asked people to submit their own. You will have to find this somewhere on Energize I expect as I am only recalling by memory and am in a lazy blogging mood so you’ll have to find it!! :-)

I am not sure what brought it to mind tonight. But I thought I’d have a little bit of fun and find places where Volunteer Managers could get a mention.

The most obvious place to start is Star Trek. If memory serves me right there is no money and thus no one is paid for anything. Ah….but there’s a question – if you do work and are not paid for it…are you a volunteer? Only if you “volunteer” to do that work right? Let’s have that Star Trek Debate another day. Because I could go on just like Dimitry Chernikov does in his blog http://dmitrychernikov.com/blog/star-trek/

“In one episode of Star Trek: Deep Space 9 Captain Sisko describes Earth as “paradise.” It is a paradise in which there is no such thing as money, and people don’t get paid for doing things. In the same episode we see Sisko’s father’s restaurant, but the workings of his business remain mysterious. The problem is that without the price system and money serving as a unit of account it is impossible to rationally allocate resources and capital goods in particular to their most valued uses. The difficulty lies in the fact that the price system is an emergent property of the market, arising as a result of entrepreneurial competition for capital, though, of course, there is nothing magical to it: we can clearly identify the source from which that property emerges, viz., the recognition by the individual members of society of the benefits of social cooperation and division of labor, and can even trace its evolution from a tiny two or three-person market to one in which social cooperation has become worldwide. “

I digress. So here is how we can write VM into a star Trek Episode.

From Star Trek the Next Generation

Scene – The Bridge

Captain: Number one!
Number one: Aye Captain
Captain: Have you noticed anything about Worf right now
Number One: Yes – he appears to be crying
Captain: Thought as much. Mr. Worf
Worf: Yes Captain
Captain: My ready room now! Number one – you have the bridge
Number one: Aye sir

Captain and Worf enter ready room

Captain: Mr. Worf. You have been my head of security for many years and I have never seen you so upset. What is the matter?
Worf: Sorry captain. I must compose myself. Today is Universal Security Head Day and even though I normally keep my emotions in check it appears that everyone on this ship had forgotton the day that celebrates my profession and I am a little sorry about that.
Captain: you are passionate about your sector Worf!
Worf: Yes sir and I feel we will never be recognised for what we do. I still don’t think that we receive enough training and resources and we don’t have a high retention rate
Captain: could that be due to the high danger element in the job Worf?
Worf: Perhaps – but we Klingons are passionate about our profession!
Captain: But I’ve never seen you cry!
Worf: Perhaps today is a good day to cry!
Captain: Now snap out of it! Your day will come. Please see Mr. Data in the Holodeck at 0200 hours and he will take you on a history tour of the Volunteer Management profession
Worf: Volunteer Management?
Captain: Yes – now the most sought after and respected profession in 8 quadrants. But it wasn’t always so. Do you now that once upon a time the volunteer management sector wasn’t even recognised by some key leaders in Volunteerism?
Worf: No!
Captain: Yes.
Worf: I keep advocating for the profession but sometimes I feel like giving up
Captain: Don’t give up! Make a difference!
Worf: I take it the odds are against us and the situation’s grim.

Captain: You could say that.

Worf: If Spock were here, he’d say that I was an irrational, illogical being for going on a mission like this... Sounds like fun!

What my National peak body for volunteering had to say to Volunteer Managers on IVMD 2010




Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thank you IVM Day (with apologies to Abba)

Today is special, in fact it’s a little bit more
You could celebrate, you've probably done it before
For you have a talent, a wonderful thing
The value to communities you bring
Of this day we are proud
All I want is to sing it out loud

So I say
Thank you IVM Day, the tune your singing
Thanks for all the joy your bringing
Where were we without it, I ask in all honesty
What would we be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you IVM Day
For giving this to me

Think recognition and IVM Day walks the walk
It uses “our sectors important” kind of talk
And I’m often thankful that it came to be
For our jobs real importance is plain to see
I’m glad the day began
And, whenever it was, I'm a fan

So I say
Thank you IVM Day, the tune your singing
Thanks for all the joy your bringing
Where were we without it, I ask in all honesty
What would we be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you IVM Day
For giving this to me

We’ve been so lucky, It is the day with plenty cheer
I wanna sing it out to everybody
What a joy, what a life, what a chance!

So I say
Thank you IVM Day, the tune your singing
Thanks for all the joy your bringing
Where were we without it, I ask in all honesty
What would we be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you IVM Day
For giving this to me

Thank you IVM Day
For giving this to me...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reflection on Blog in the lead up to International Volunteer Managers Day

In March of this year I set up this blog. In the week that brings us International Volunteer Managers Day I want to reflect on the blog itself.

I truly wanted to have a forum where I could have a say about the profession that I love. I hoped that some people might come here and have a read of my views and perhaps engage in some dialogue about Volunteer management.

Being new to blogging I had no idea what to expect. I am a volunteer manager at the coalface and enjoy working every day with a great team of volunteers. I also happen to be privileged to work with and have as colleagues some great volunteer coordinators and managers who share my vision for the sector.

At some point yesterday the 3,000th unique visitor visited this site.

Perhaps this is small considering what other blog sites attract in a day not to mind 7 months.

But for a humble blogger like myself I am astounded. Truly.

Thank you for visiting this blog. At the end of the day I want to get more people engaged with the issues and challenges we face in volunteerism.

Now to get more people responding and answering polls!

However – by being here in the first place you are engaging! Thank you for sharing the journey with me.

What International Volunteer Managers Day can help us achieve!

Here’s one that crept under my radar

According to Pro Bono News on October 27th

“more than 2300 Not for Profit professionals in 10 countries,. including Australia and New Zealand, have shared their management strategies, as global software provider, Blackbaud releases its 2010 Global State of the Nonprofit Industry Survey. The State of the Nonprofit Industry (SONI) Survey is a global report covering general operations, fundraising, technology and Internet usage, and accountability and stewardship. Responses were received from 2,383 individuals in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.”

You can read about it yourself by posting this link


The article titled “Retaining Staff and Donors Key for Aussie NFPs” is an interesting read in itself but from a volunteer management point of view it got me thinking after I read one of the four global trends have emerged from the data of the survey. Here’s the one that drew my attention

“Fundraising is emerging as a widely-recognized profession around the globe. The vast majority of NFPs around the world are expecting to increase their investment in fundraising staff, according to the SONI survey. It is clear that fundraising is no longer someone’s “part-time” responsibility. Techniques and data are becoming more complex, and the rate of change is increasing. What was once mostly art is rapidly becoming science, requiring new tools and techniques, partnerships, and better skilled staff.”

In the week that brings us International Volunteer Managers Day, could we not mirror that point about fundraising? Perhaps not. Could you put your hand on your heart and honestly say that Volunteer Management is emerging as a widely recognized profession around the globe? I personally would say no – that’s not the case but I acknowledge that some hard work is being done in various pockets to achieve this. I certainly don’t think Volunteer Management is a widely recognized profession in Australia. Yet.

When will we see written “The vast majority of NFPs around the world are expecting to increase their investment in Volunteer management staff” Let me know when you see instances of that if you don’t mind?

Can we say now with confidence that it is clear that volunteer management is no longer someone’s “part-time” responsibility? Nope – I don’t think we can claim that either.

Does Volunteer management require new tools and techniques, partnerships and better skilled staff? You betcha! And a recent survey on Volunteer management in the UK said as much. Look at the language used here when the profession of fundraising is used. It is apparent that the profession is valued.

In the week that brings us International Volunteer Managers Day I believe that our sector should be reflecting on these things. This is the real meaning of IVMD for me. An opportunity to reflect on the profession I care about.

IVMD, in my opinion will thrive if it is utilized to challenge us to talk up our profession and take an honest look at where we, within the volunteerism sector, are falling down in relation to volunteer management.

Featured Post

The simple act of kindness.

How we learn from our children! This post was inspired by an act of my daughter. When her mum arrived at work today she found this...