Showing posts from May, 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 volu…

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…

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 an…

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 h…

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…

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 vo…

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 imp…

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” jus…

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 l…

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 for…

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 …

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 Volunteeri…

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…

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…

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 …

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 lou…