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

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