Friday, May 28, 2010


Volunteerism Gazette

By DON J Volau

28 MAY 2010

How many volunteer managers does it take to change a light bulb?

This was a question posed by controversial djcronin.blogsite earlier this month. All witty answers were posted to the site that the New York Times has labeled “Grotesque, bizarre and unprecedented”

In an online poll 8,000 people from across the globe voted for their favorite joke (What’s with the slight exaggeration Don? – Ed). In all 7 people put their joke out there to be judged . Someone called Stephen just missed the cut off. A controversial move as we will never really know what might have been...

The person named Rox though was the clear winner with 2,000 votes. The nearest rival was everyone else on 1,000 votes.

In a major shock to the system Susan J Ellis and DJ Cronin only received 1,000 votes each. When asked why someone who has written books on volunteer management, travelled the globe talking on volunteerisms and is seen as a respected figure on all matters volunteering only garnished 1,000 votes, DJ Cronin retorted “ Hey – lay off me Don! I am not a comedian!”

Volunteerism Gazette was unable to contact Rox and our calls were not returned. It is believed that Rox has signed a deal to chat with Larry King on CNN and Bill O Reilly on Fox News. It is also reported that Rox is now working on a book of Volunteer Management Jokes.

And the winning answer?

"Only one but it could take a while because they have to write a job description, recruit for the position, interview, process a police check and send them to an OHS training session. However if they do all these steps well the volunteer will stick around to change all the rest!!"

Copyright Volunteerism Gazette 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Volunteer Management – A Simple manifesto

I am a volunteer manager
I am a leader of people
I am a facilitator of change in society
I harness a movement that is not compelled by financial gain
I am a friend
I am a counselor
I am an advocate
I am an activist
I am an organizer

I am a volunteer manager
I am a volunteer coordinator
I am a volunteer practitioner
I am a volunteer director
I am a volunteer administrator
I am moving beyond titles
I am moving beyond assumptions
I am moving past ignorance
Because…I know…what I am

I am a witness
I have seen people grow
I have seen people change
I have seen people make new friends
I have seen people discover new paths
I have seen the weak grow strong
I have seen the meek grow confident
I have seen some lost find again
And only as a volunteer manager

I have been challenged
I have been unrecognized
I have been unappreciated
I have been pushed to the limit
I have been afraid to say “no”
I have been too kind and said “yes”
I have been very tired
I have been taken for granted
I have considered other careers

Yet I have been inspired
Yet I have been encouraged
Yet I have been appreciated
Yet I have been resourced and supported
Yet I have met angels
Yet I have met devils aspiring for sainthood!
Yet I have seen diversity
Yet I have seen real people
Yet I have lived “volunteers”

And this is why I stay
And this is what still moves me
The movement that is volunteerism
In turn moves me
And it’s an honour to be there
To be part of a movement
That goes beyond definitions
And this is why I am still proud to say
I am a volunteer manager

DJ Cronin

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Volunteer Management Themes

If there was one song that could be a theme song for Volunteer Managers what would it be? Have a think about that one. I’ll come back with my own suggestions soon.

What got me thinking about that was a poem I came across lately.

I liked it. But why did it make me think about Volunteer Management. What’s going on here DJ? I need to be careful and watch out for catching OTOVM.

Apparently there is no known cure for OTOVM*

Anyway here’s the poem.

No More Smalling Up Of Me

Jean Wilson

No more meekly saying 'yes'
When my heart is screaming 'no'
No more taming of my feelings
So my power won’t show
No more hiding my exuberance
From disapproving eyes
No more watering down myself
So my spirit won't rise

No more 'smalling up' of me
Pretending I am not here
No more running from the music
And the spotlight's glare
No more living in this prison
Barricaded by my fears
No more turning and retreating
In the face of new frontiers

Even as I am speaking
I am taking shape and form
Harnessing my powers
Like a gathering storm
There's no obstacle so bold
As to dare stand in my way
I am taking back my life
And I am doing it today.

*Obsessive Thinking On Volunteer Management!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Shock horror - I can’t believe you said that!

What makes a good Volunteer Manager?

What are the top ten traits of a good volunteer manager? How do you measure good volunteer management?

Are we in a profession where we can “get away with it” if we are not really up to it?

Shock horror DJ - I can’t believe you said that!

We’ve always known that many agencies simply don’t take volunteering seriously. I am talking mainly about agencies that employ a large amount of staff and a lot of volunteers and where paid staff may well be in the majority.

I believe we have lots of agencies where volunteers are contributing greatly but some paid staff may perceive them as “nice but not necessary”. There are those people in certain agencies that may believe “at the end of the day we don’t need volunteers”.

I hate to think there are organisations that engage volunteer simply because it “feels nice” or looks good”

Sadly I think they exist. And even more sadly I think some may engage volunteer managers who set our profession back 50 years.

Shock horror DJ.

Don’t worry – because of my inquisitive nature on volunteer management I believe I have alienated a few people already. I know I’ve been accused of being “too smart” or of being a “trouble maker”

Yes I say – I will continue to be a trouble maker until I think that ALL stakeholders take volunteer management seriously.

But you know what? I think you know the volunteer manager I am talking about. Because chances are – the VM I am talking about will not be visiting this site! Or any other VM site unless they know I have them figured out and are waiting to see what I am saying about them. If you are here – you know who you are.

And of course this sort of conversation does not sit well at all with certain types. “How can you be so confrontational? How can you be mean spirited in an area that is so lovely? And Nice?”

And I will be ignored…and I will be shot down.

Because I say – until we have an accreditation program or a nationally recognised qualification in place for volunteer management we will have those people who will sneak in under the radar in volunteer management.

And they will be “nice and lovely” and they will appeal to our “nice and lovely” peak bodies for volunteering simply because they do not threaten the status quo. And they may well even join our “nice and lovely” association for volunteer managers. Harmless fun eh?

Who the heck do I think I am to say such things?

I put it out there in public. I will take the knocks as well as the accolades I go on my Volunteer management record. I, as part of my volunteer service evaluation at my work place ensure that my position of volunteer management is evaluated. Every time – anonymous – clear and transparent.

But because society in general, in my view thinks that volunteering is nice and wooly – then nice and woolly volunteer managers or coordinators or whatever we call ourselves to suit the day, will reign.

And those of us who have the bigger picture of VM at heart, will, naturally come under attack.

It needs to be said

By someone


“My volunteers” don’t exist because I don’t own them

And I don’t perpetuate the “nice but not necessary” feelings on volunteering by my management style.

And most importantly.

I won’t work in an agency that doesn’t value volunteering effort!
Can we all agree on what that might look like

And if agreed - agree to that simple principal!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What shapes us?

I don’t see much about this topic when it comes to volunteer management. Perhaps there is research there that I have yet to find. I am no academic. Academia may have pages on the topic somewhere.

But in my short 14 years of volunteer management I have come across so much “stuff” to learn, to talk about, to decipher, to debate about the field of volunteer management. Heck – we still debate whether we are a field or not!

But I won’t get into that again. Not now anyway!

I’ve attended many conferences on volunteerism and many retreats on “advanced volunteer management” all learning experiences. In fact I am one who believes that the learning process is never ending. A simple philosophy maybe but one that is very close to my heart. I have learnt never to call myself an “expert” in anything and have become wary of those who will take that title. Oh but that is for another blog!. Simply put I have a feeling that volunteerism and volunteer management is ever evolving and that quite frankly it is a rare area where “experts” and academia” will have trouble keeping up.

Nevertheless I am extremely grateful to be involved in this field. I still love my job. Yes, I have my off days but I do love what I do and I don’t wake up thinking “oh no – not another day” and I am not the type who proclaims “thank God its Friday” at the end of the week.

Where am I going with this? Setting the scene. I’ve been to many “advanced’ retreats for volunteer management here in Australia. And I cannot fault them. They have certainly “advanced” my thinking and my career.

Recently though I had an email from another volunteer manager. They told me that their idea of advanced was some type of concept or learning that they had never heard of before. They wanted, in essence, to see something completely new presented to them.
I kinda get what they are saying and kinda not. In short I think that just because its new, doesn’t mean its advanced..But I get the jist of what they were trying to say too.

New ideas…new thought etc

So here’s my theory…

Is it worth looking at what shapes us? By that I mean to say, is it is worth examining what forces have driven us into volunteer management.

I am no psychologist or anthropologist but wonder if we can have this discussion? Indeed, I wonder if we ever have had this discussion.

In short

Why are you a volunteer manager?

We, so often, so care about finding out about the motivation behind why our volunteers volunteer? Can we not ask why we volunteer manage? 
To say “I just fell into volunteer management” won’t suffice here. Some research states that this may be a significant portion of us. I know that I “fell” into this career! But that is not the reason I’ve been in this career for 14 years!

If there isn’t a study – there should be. Why? Well, if like me you care about the future of this profession then it makes sense to have an idea about the history of the profession. Now I know there are some who have a passion for that aspect. Many of the editors of e-volunteering have not only captured some historical aspects of volunteerism but by the very nature of their exploratory articles on volunteer management have captured in a sense an historical essence of volunteering management! The very editors may well disagree but that at least has been my personal perspective.

So, I believe that our profession will come of age when
1. We understand what we do
2. Why we do it
3. Where we have come from
4. And where we are going

As a profession I think we are getting, slowly but surely, a handle on Number 1
I think we are generally ignoring points 2 and 3
I think we try to believe we have a handle on number 4 (what with our retreats for advanced management and the formation of our so called “professional associations”)

I propose we are not advancing as a profession because we have not given enough attention to points 2 and 3

Why am I a volunteer manager?
And where have I come from that led me into this career?

They are very similar.
But they differentiate

For example I can answer `point 2 thus

I am a volunteer manager because this job gives me immense satisfaction. Not only do I love working with volunteers to make significant change in society I am in a career that I have seen firsthand enables change and makes a difference to the lives of the people who are stakeholders in volunteerism. That is the community, society, the recipient of volunteering services directly, the agency that utilizes volunteers, the country where the volunteering occurs, the volunteer themselves and the person who manages the volunteering effort! Wow! What’s not to love here?

And then I would answer point 3 thus:

I grew up in a rural setting in 1970s Ireland. I lived in a community. I witnessed community growing up. Neighbors looked out for each other. I joined a group called the Social Action Group at 13. I cut peat for fuel to keep the elderly warm in winter. I helped raise thousands of pounds for communities in Africa where such money meant the difference between life and death. I and my family volunteered to host children from strife torn areas of Northern Ireland in the height of the troubles. Our families, through this Social Action group provided basically a sanctuary for troubled kids from Belfast and Derry whose daily existence was made up of bomb scares, bombings, shootings and sectarian strife. I still recall vividly being an innocent 13 yr old myself watching my 13 yr old guest jump with fright from his seat in my home when the doorbell rang. In Derry, at the time when the doorbell rang, people were frightened. (There were many doorstep shootings at the time).

So this experience shaped me.

Another experience that shaped me was the fact that I ended up homeless in London when I was 20 years of age! A story for another day. But the fact that anonymous people helped me out was a great motivator for me to get into a job that involved community service

The other experience that shaped me was the fact that I came from a family of 8 kids where everyone of those kids went into a career of community service. Every one! All eight! Counselors, psychologists, police, volunteer managers, nurses, teachers, carers, diplomats!
That’s bound to shape you!

I think that a combination of experiences have made me who I am today. I believe that some life experiences have made me the Volunteer Manager that I am today?
Is this true of any of you?
I think we need to know where we come from

I think our profession needs to know too

Just my opinion

Thank you for sticking with and reading this very personal blog entry!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Now I understand why some in volunteerism think the sun shines out of Uranus

Now here’s a Volunteer role with a difference.

Story courtesy of AFP 18 May

We are trailblazers' say Mars Mission volunteers

MOSCOW — The six men who enlisted to be locked up for over 500 days to simulate a mission to Mars called themselves "trailblazers" Tuesday, saying they were ready to face the strain of the isolation.

"We are trailblazers, but while this is very exciting, it brings a certain responsibility. I echo my teammates in saying we will do everything to be successful," Russian volunteer Mikhail Sinelnikov told reporters in Moscow.

The three Russians, two Europeans and one Chinese national will be sealed away for one-and-a-half years inside a 180-square-metre (1,000-square-feet) spaceship module on the outskirts of Moscow starting on June 3.
"It will be trying for all of us. We cannot see our family, we cannot see our friends, but I think it is all a glorious time in our lives," enthused Chinese participant Wang Yue, who is the youngest volunteer at age 27.
The mission will set the stage for "future generations who will actually travel frequently to Mars," said Italian-Colombian participant Diego Urbina.

The ambitious project, the first full-duration simulated flight to Mars, aims to test one of the biggest unknowns of an eventual manned mission to Mars: the psychological and physical toll on humans.”

With Thanks to Alissa de Carbonnel (AFP)

Now imagine trying to manage these volunteers! Imagine the annual volunteer feedback form. The top ten comments might be:

1. “While I enjoy my volunteering – I am getting a little sick of my fellow volunteers”

2. “I do appreciate the free volunteer lunch but can we please do something about the taste!”

3. “Hey I signed up as an episodic volunteer – why can’t I get out of here – I keep knocking on that door but no one will let me out!”

4. “Nothing happened during national volunteer’s week – what gives?”

5. “Can we please take down the poster that says “ Volunteers – out of this world”

6. “It’s no different from other places I have volunteered – there is no atmosphere!”

7. “In space no one can hear you scream “International Volunteer Managers Day” either”!

8. “Now I understand why some in volunteerism think the sun shines out of Uranus”

9. “ A mars a day helps you volunteer, rest and play”

10. “This is one small step for a volunteer…one giant leap for volunteerism”

Monday, May 17, 2010

Our volunteer was a little insulted

One of the advantages of blogging on volunteerism and volunteer management for me is that I have a keen sense of awareness/interest on what others are saying on blogs on the topic!

And on occasion I come across stuff written by someone outside the field of volunteer management but undoubtedly within the field of volunteerism. Sometimes we may come across some views on volunteering that make us a little uncomfortable. And sometimes a little enraged!

I argue that this is good for us. Outside of our field of vision there are many views on volunteering. Many perceptions. Much misunderstanding.

While doing some research today I accidently came across this blog.
This is written by a anesthesiologist ( and physician)
The full blog can be found at

I have just reproduced a little of this article:


"In hospitals we of course have a large number of volunteers and I suppose they do an excellent job. My impression is that most of them, especially the younger ones just stand around looking bored. Now when I look at them, particularly when I look at one of university age, I wonder, what are you applying for and do you really want to be here. We had an excellent volunteer, a retired lady who helped out in the pain clinic for a number of years. She functioned like our ward clerk,did a great job and was really a part of team. One day the nurses approached me and said it was time we got a real ward clerk, I wrote a letter and we got one. I could see on the first days of the ward clerk that our volunteer was a little insulted. She hung on for a year but stopped coming when her husband got sick and now we don't have a volunteer.

I entered the universe of volunteerism a couple of years ago. We had the World Master Games in our city. I heard that they were desperately short of medical volunteers and I was in town so I volunteered. This entailed filling out an on-line form that took me at least an hour (I am not exaggerating). After some time my wife and I were notified that we were to help out with the 10K run. I assumed this was in a medical capacity. In order to be volunteers we had to go downtown and stand in line to get our volunteer package which included our identification/lanyard, a polyester shirt that is now probably being worn somewhere in Africa, a baseball cap that is now in the landfill and a fanny pack (also now in the landfill). Then we had to spend another evening on orientation. It was at this point that I realised that I had volunteered to pass out water and Gatorade at the 10K run although I suspected maybe my medical skills might be required. On the day of the race, we got there early set up our water station mixed up Gatorade and filled paper cups full of water or Gatorade. When the runners came by we offered our cups shouting, "water" or "Gatorade". (Oh by the way anybody who reads this who runs in races, if you don't want a drink just run by, don't slap the cup out of the volunteer's hand.) After the last runner limped by we took down the station and left. Meanwhile a friend of mine who volunteered told me they were desperately short of medical volunteers all week but apparently I'm not good for much besides passing our water. I have not volunteered for anything since"

Perhaps, we in the VM field might like to respond to this blog?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

WORLD MEDIA EXCLUSIVE: Volunteer Manager Takes Presidency

Volunteer Manager Takes Presidency

Volunteerism Gazette


Don J Volau

Samaku is an island west of North Arabia. Pop” 4 million, Samaku has gone unnoticed in world history generally due to its people’s penchant for peace. Samaku however should get some recognition from the volunteerism world as it has just elected a president whose full time job is volunteer manager.

According to its last census Samaku has 2 million volunteers. A figure large enough to inspire a volunteer manager to form his own political party 2 years ago. That risk yesterday paid off when Andy Cowling was inaugurated Samaku’s 4th President since the island state gained independence from Oldthink.

Speaking to Volunteerism Gazette after a lively ceremony that featured volunteers and volunteer managers, President Cowling said that Samaku could be a great example for the real power of volunteerism worldwide.
“I ran on the theme of “end the lip service” said the president elect who formed the “Volunteer party” just over 2 years ago. “I knew over half of the population were volunteers. I also sensed they felt the same as me when it came to how Government recognised their efforts.”

Andy Cowling campaigned on some innovative policies

• Free public transport for volunteers via the setting up of a volunteer registration site.
• Tax concessions for volunteers to offset petrol costs
• The setting up of the National University of Volunteer Management
• Funding for SAVL - The Samaku Association for Volunteer Leadership

Of course many other policies helped ensure that the Volunteer Party received 69% of last week’s vote decimating John Cameron’s Non Formative Party which ruled Samaku for the last 17 years.

In an historic inaugural speech beamed live to the nation from the Capitol, Ellis, the president Elect acknowledged the volunteers of Samaku:

“How many times have politicians stood before you acknowledging the movement that is volunteering? Many I surmise. But did they ever contemplate that the movement of volunteering may someday become political! Well, they should have because politics in many nations has often been driven by volunteers. Many nations were founded on the backs of volunteers.

Most freedom fighters were volunteers. And yes – there are those who will resist calling such people volunteers. But the truth is evident today that volunteering has taken a bold step in saying that it has the capacity to move wherever and whenever. Let not volunteerism be underestimated.

It does not choose to be an overtly political movement globally in the truest sense but by our example it can demonstrate that it can have a bite when people see through the false platitudes of any sector of our society. Today too, I honour those who lead volunteers, the men and women who have chosen careers that impact society.”

Don J Volau

Saturday, May 15, 2010

With two hands and a heart - Thoughts from an Argentinian Volunteer Coordinater (Guest Post)

With two hands and a heart

My name is Vanessa and I work as coordinator in charge of programs in Argentina for Abroader View Volunteers Corps and I would like to share some impressions about what’s volunteering is about.

During my 3 years involved in this work I've could learn that volunteering is one of the most needed actions in our world. Why? simply because is these times we are living is urgent to learn for good we can not do it alone, and more than money or big agreements for a future full of progress, the most important thing we need to survive is the generous colaboration of some other that really care here and now.

All definitions emphasize volunteer to be an activity of free choice, without expecting payment in return. I would also add that it is important to love volunteering to do it well.

When we volunteer, we give our time, knowledge, experience to others in need but above all we give love for free and this requires a deep commitment from our part with others, and let flow our spirit of humanity without pride involved, because we are all vulnerable and the hand that receives our help today may be the one to hold us tomorrow.

There is no excuse to avoid volunteering. If you think about it, you can do something for someone. When we think of volunteering, most of us think in images of people like heroes helping other in far lands affected by poverty or war. Well, is this, but the most of the time is even simpler. Heroism is in every one of us, every morning we decide to face the day with our better mood, even without knowing what we can expect outsider the door.

If you look around you'll find more than one occasion to help. Volunteering is a decision, a commitment and a way to live our lives in relationship with others. One of the questions that make me most is that people need to volunteer? My answer is categorical: "You yourself, with your two hands and one heart”.

When we volunteer, we are all equal in our capacity to give, we can all be generous, sharing a joke, helping a child in their homework, listen the memories of a grandfather, reading to a blind person. The opportunities are endless and you just need that flame burning in your heart that is the desire to serve. Because of all the joy, the joy of serving others is the greatest.

Vanessa Alejandra

Vanessa is a volunteer coordinator from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Great Oxymoron

Ah Mandatory volunteering. I came across it again tonight in my media travels. I do this you know. Each evening I am googling volunteering on the web , on the news on the blogs. Internet technology has allowed us volunteer managers to keep up with what is happening in volunteerism world.

I love the word oxymoron. I like wikipedias definition - An oxymoron (plural oxymorons, or sometimes the Greek plural oxymora) (from Greek ὀξύμωρον, "sharp dull") is a figure of speech that combines normally contradictory terms. They appear in a variety of contexts, including inadvertent errors such as extremely average, deliberate puns like same difference' or 'pretty ugly, and literary oxymorons that have been crafted to reveal a paradox.

To me mandatory volunteering is on the same level as
Definite maybe
Exact estimate
Found missing
Alone together

I do realize that we, in volunteer management have had this discussion before. But the reason I must raise it again now is that forced or mandatory volunteering are terms still utilized by the media and public. Just Google the term.

And what I would like us to start contemplating is this: is it one of our responsibilities, as a profession, to educate the public on what volunteering is? Ah, a big and contentious ask I hear you say. But I propose that we need to think about this because at the end of the day we are the ones coordinating , managing and leading volunteers.

On a bigger picture scale – shouldn’t we have a say on volunteering definitions?

But surely – don’t we all recognize that mandatory volunteering is a no brainer for our profession?

Yes we may argue on where volunteers volunteer and yes we will argue on what is exactly volunteering but surely we can agree that volunteering, no matter where it occurs is always a matter of free choice?

However I won’t bully anyone to agree with my opinion. And I welcome an alternative view. If you can see any justification in calling forced volunteering or mandatory volunteering…volunteering… please let me know. I won’t jump down your throat and will simply examine your view with others!

Some may argue that it’s just semantics. No its not! It is not for our profession. Because when the day comes when we are asked by our agencies, workplaces and/or society to manage a team of mandatory volunteers we need to be able to articulate our concerns and opposition if we are so inclined!

For me it will simply be this – “There is no such thing as mandatory volunteering”

What do you think? And if you are nodding your head in agreement can you let me know how we can change public and media misperceptions on volunteering? If peak bodies for volunteering are failing in this area can we take up the baton? Isn’t it our responsibility as a profession? Is this our opportunity to mature and come of age?

This blog was inspired by another blog by Theresa Walsh Giarrusso who was writing on one incident of “forced volunteering”

Should public schools force parents to volunteer?
6:48 am May 11, 2010, by Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

Some schools in the San Francisco area are creating mandatory volunteer hours that parents must fulfill in their schools. In some cases the parents receive a grade based on how involved they are and in another school, they literally have a set numbers of hours they must meet.

From The New York Times:

“Inspired by Adelante, now San Jose’s Alum Rock Union Elementary School District is at work on a proposal to require the families of all its 13,000 students to do 30 hours of volunteering per school year. Many of the schools in the district, where 88 percent of the students are poor, do not even have a Parent-Teachers Association.
“We are trying to create a culture of strong parent-guardian-family participation,” trustee Gustavo Gonzalez, whose children attend Adelante, told The San Jose Mercury News….”

“ ‘It’s really simplifying what we know about what really helps children learn,’ said Ingrid Seyer-Ochi, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education, in a telephone interview. ‘That’s having parents who see themselves as learners and as having something to contribute to their children as learners.’ ”

Connecting volunteers for volunteer’s week.

This week marks National Volunteer Week in Australia. Yesterday I was honoured to be invited to a very unique event in Brisbane.

Volunteering Qld, in partnership with Westpac officially kicked off a week of celebrations from a CBD boardroom, along with dignitaries, community organisations and regional volunteer hubs as ‘virtual guests’ - thanks to technology.

CEO of Volunteering Qld, Jelenko Dragisic, said the use of webcam technology was a turning point for connecting volunteer hubs from regions like Bundaberg, Stanthorpe, Toowoomba and Rockhampton with Brisbane and Logan counterparts to celebrate achievements in real time.

The “One Big Thank You!” reached out across Queensland showcasing not only the connectivity that is available if organisations know how to tap into it, but how such technologies can be used to create personal and organisational rewards for the benefit of the community.

I have to say that this was a visionary and brave initiative of Volunteering Queensland. As I sat there next to another Volunteer Manager before the event commenced we wondered at the technological aspect and were admittedly nervous for the event organisers. We could hear them do checks with all the centres around the state. It reminded me of the voting process during a Eurovision Song Contest albeit on a smaller scale! This was a live event and I believe a first for volunteerism in the country. So our fingers were crossed!

There was no need to worry as the event went off beautifully! It was wonderful to witness. We had volunteers link in from all around the sate from the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast, from Bundaberg to Logan and Rockhampton to Stanthorpe and Townsville. You could feel the excitement emanate from the volunteers as they participated in this event.

The use of webcams to include regional’s as ‘virtual guests’ at the official CBD function was brilliant. It also got me thinking about the possibilities and opportunities such technology provides for Volunteer Managers in Australasia and even worldwide. I will be suggesting this as a future tool of communication for the Australasian Association of Volunteer Administrators. AAVA members are scattered throughout 2 nations and technology like this must be looked at as a means of bringing us all together!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Volunteer Manager Threatens Naked Run!

What is the light bulb moment? To me it’s that time when one simply “get’s it” and goes “aha”!

It can also be known as the eureka moment!

Eureka is an exclamation used as an interjection to celebrate a discovery. It comes from the Ancient Greek Εὕρηκα/Ηὕρηκα - Heurēka/Hēurēka meaning approximately "I have found it".

This exclamation is most famously attributed to the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes; he reportedly proclaimed "Eureka!" when he stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose — he suddenly understood that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged. This meant that the volume of irregular objects could be calculated with precision, a previously intractable problem. He is said to have been so eager to share his realization that he leapt out of his bathtub and ran through the streets of Syracuse naked.

I am wishing for the day when peak organisations for volunteering, just like Volunteering England, across the globe have their Eureka moment. And that is this: Volunteer Management is an important cog in the wheel of volunteerism and must be supported!

Here is a news item thanks to The Third Sector Online in the UK.

By Kaye Wiggins, Third Sector Online, 6 May 2010

"Volunteering England and Acevo say the next government must provide more funding for volunteer management Volunteering England and chief executives body Acevo have agreed to lobby ministers jointly in the next government to provide more funding for volunteer management.

When new legislation affecting charities that work with volunteers is introduced, representatives from both groups will ask ministers to commit to providing resources so that charities can train and manage the volunteers, according to Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo.
"Most of Acevo's members work with volunteers," he told Third Sector. "All three of the main political parties are talking about expanding the number of volunteers, but none is saying they would provide extra funding for this.

"There's an assumption by politicians that charities have an open door to welcome unlimited numbers of new volunteers. In reality, they need more funding to be able to do this."

Bubb said Acevo would also consider extending its professional development courses to cover volunteer management in greater depth, and producing a publication about best practice in volunteer management that would be distributed to its members.

Mike Locke, director of public affairs at Volunteering England, said Acevo would be involved with VE's continuing volunteer rights inquiry. Acevo would help the organisation to put together proposals for addressing volunteers' grievances, he said."

What a great and commendable move by VE! All of us in Volunteer Management across the globe should applaud this and hope that such activism spreads globally!

And yet in many nations, Volunteer Management is left off the national volunteerism agenda. Key experts and consultants in Volunteer Management are ignored and sidelined. Associations for Volunteer Management are ignored or irrelevant to the bigger volunteerism picture. Days celebrating Volunteer Management are frowned upon. Volunteer Managers are not consulted.

What is the status of Volunteer Management in your nation? Please share with us here?

I look forward to the day when my own peak body has its own Eureka moment and recognizes the value of my profession. If it does I may have my own Archimedes moment and run naked through the streets of Brisbane! Now that would be an amazing moment to witness…..but so too would my naked run through Brisbane! :-)

BTW - Volunteering England picks up another VM Champion award!!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Leading world journalist writes for Blog site!

This blog site is proud to welcome the occasional contribution from Don J Volau, previously a journalist with the Irish Gazette who published the exclusive April Fool’s day newstory that travelled around the world.

Gaining worldwide fame from this article and after appearances on the “Ellen” and Letterman shows as well as “Larry King Live” Don has decided to set up his own publication “The Volunteerism Gazette”
Some of this publication will be reproduced here after outbid bidders from CNN, Fox News and the Ballykissangel Herald.

“ I wanted to share my writings with a site that had integrity, dynamicism ( we looked up the word – we couldn’t find it either – Ed) and light bulb jokes”

Don has been a journalist for almost 2 months. Previous to this he was a volunteer matchmaker in Southwest Ireland. “I wasn’t very successful unfortunately as a lot of my matchmaking ended in divorce. And this is why I have a great empathy for the Volunteer Management sector as well – our professions are misunderstood” When asked by our blog to explain further Don explained “ I had several people visit me from Switzerland to check out what kind of watches I was making!”

We welcome Don. Watch this space for his articles of dynamicism!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ban Volunteering!

Can you imagine banning volunteering? No…of course not you say! Can you imagine a government saying where you can and can’t volunteer? Can you imagine that?

Take for example a privately owned nursing home or hospital. Because it doesn’t fall in the not for profit sector there are those who argue that they can’t have volunteers!

Their argument is that volunteers are free labor in such settings etc. Hogwash! I’ve experienced NFP agencies where the use of volunteers can be questioned as suss or “staff replacement!” And in such settings I’ve seen calls for volunteers during industrial action. When volunteers are utilized to fill in for staff during industrial disputes I protest! And I protest loudly. But never, never would I say to legislate against people volunteering. Even in this example!

It’s called VOLUNTEERING for a reason! Banning certain volunteering is like banning certain speech because you don’t like it! Which I realise occurs in some countries. Freedom of speech and freedom of association are paramount to any democratic society.

For the sake of full disclosure I work at a private hospital. I believe I would have the same beliefs if I did not.

Because I have a greater interest in volunteering.

I have often stated that volunteering in private settings is fine once certain standards are met i.e. that it is not cost cutting, reducing labor hours etc.

Nevertheless If I want to volunteer some time working for any organisation I choose to give that time to – I feel that is my right.
Some will argue – No DJ! You do not have that right.


Legislate to ban certain volunteering and hello Nanny state!

Compulsive volunteering was always an oxymoron. People telling us where and why we should volunteer is scarier!

We are not Volunteer managers! We are secret agents!

I remember the time I first attended the Australasian Retreat for Advanced Volunteer Management. It was held in Canberra and was without doubt one of the best volunteer management events I have ever been to.

I remember on the second or third night I ventured out with a few colleagues to hit the nightspots of Canberra. We eventually found ourselves at a very interesting nightclub. A group of American tourists got chatting with us. They asked us what we were doing in Canberra. I, being mischievous, informed them that we were attending an international conference for Interpol and that we were all Interpol operatives. They didn’t blink an eye.

I informed them that I was joking and that we were in fact volunteer managers attending a conference. They all burst out laughing at this revelation.

In fact they thought it was hilarious. They didn’t really believe we were volunteer managers. They gave us the impression that they had never heard of volunteer managers hence their jocularity. It took awhile to convince them that I was serious about what we were doing in Canberra.

True story. I still recount it. Very funny..but you had to be there! 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

How many Volunteer Managers does it take to change a lightbulb?

So here is my challenge. To evolve and become a true profession I argue that we need an answer, no, a funny answer to this question!

When there are legitimate jokes about Volunteer Management and especially when there is VM joke associated with the classic light bulb then we know we have entered the mainstream.

So help me here as I find one way to launch Volunteer Management into mainstream thinking!!

Q How many Volunteer Managers does it take to change a light bulb?

A ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

There is fun too?

I am immensely enjoying the blogging but reviewing what has been posted so far has given me pause for thought. Almost everything has been a reaction to something. That’s ok in itself. After all if that is the case or is how I see things in volunteer management then so be it. After all it is a personal blog. And it is a blog about volunteer management. I don’t see my comments as being negative. Rather I see my comments as challenging certain ways and beliefs. I have been in volunteer management for almost 14 years now. I would like to see myself still as a modern VM. Now there’s a blog story!! What is a modern VM???

I digress once again. Suffice to say but I intend bringing a little humor to the blog. I have yet to find online a joke about a volunteer manager. Let’s make some up. But some of my lighter moments will be true moments.
Let’s laugh a little too. We need to. Because I’ve seen the fact that as the traditional paradigm of volunteering is challenged the traditionalists get louder, more serious and more fun less. Let’s keep the humor folks.

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