Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Current Favourite Quote!

If there was ever a time to dare, to make a difference, to embark on something worth doing, It is now. Not for any grand cause, necessarily... but for something that tugs at your heart, something that's your inspiration, something that's your dream."

Author Unknown

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A thank you speech for volunteers

You make a difference in the dash.

Life is short. In the scheme of things this oft quoted saying must be true. Our planet has been here for millions of years – our universe billions.

On our headstones will be the etching of when we were born and the date when we died.

For example 1960 – 2050

What matters to me are not the two years mentioned. It is the dash. That little dash. -

That’s our life. That represents to me the short time we have, here, to make a difference, or not.

And making a difference means so many different things to so many people.

But for you, the volunteer, what you do during that dash is most significant.

You can give me money for my cause. Sure. But I may pay that back to you. Say you give a dollar a month. It is appreciated without doubt. It is your dollar. However you may pick it up elsewhere. Something extra you do. Some other way of earning that buck.

But how do we give back time?

As a volunteer you give time.

Time. The most precious resource in our lives.

Look at the dash. How many hours are in there? It’s not billions. It’s not infinite.

Money can be printed. Time cannot.

Once you give an hour of your time it is lost forever. That hour you just gave volunteering will never be replicated.

Your time volunteering must be valued but we can never put a value on that time.

How can you value something that is priceless?

As a volunteer you bring much to this organisation. Skills, advice, experience, friendship, vision, leadership, inspiration etc.

That you bring. But time you give.

In our time poor world you bear the gift of time.

You choose to donate the most precious commodity in the known universe.

We may count your time in numbers. We may attempt to count your time in cash value.

Though such methods have their reasons we will all be poorer if we don’t realize that the giving of your time is simply and utterly magnificent.

So today, we take a little time out to thank you for the amazing “time in” that you give.

Truly, thanks for your time!

© DJ Cronin 2010
Brisbane Australia

Volunteer Management qualify for last 8 of World Cup

Volunteerism Gazette

Don J Volau reports on a soccer tournament with a difference in the republic of Asaba

Asaba June 25

They come from 32 nations around the globe. Yet they play together and there may be Englishmen, French women and Dutch guys playing on the same team.

For this is the management world cup. 16 teams made up of managers from 16 different sectors gathered two weeks ago for the inaugural Management world cup. Its 8 a side soccer for this cup and teams are evenly split between male and female.

Like the real world cup this world cup has had a few shocks of its own.
Take for example the elimination of Marketing Managers in the first round. Try selling that disaster! They were beaten 4 – 0 by Funeral Directors. The local press ran with the headline “Deadly defeat for Marketing!”

Then there was the 8-0 thrashing of HR Management by Volunteer Management.

In a spiteful game that saw red cards on both sides the hero of the hour was the Volunteer Managers goalkeeper who saved 12 penalties. The result was all the more remarkable given that the Volunteer management team nearly didn’t make it on the starting list. Explained their manager, Noah Rekognition, “ our first attempt to enter the competition was rejected by the governing council who sent us a letter stating that they believed that no volunteer management sector existed!” After a few calls to people in high places the team was admitted.

Volunteer Management will now face Finance management in the quarter finals. “Finance will be a tough one for us but we are confident of pulling off another upset” said VM captain Bendere Dundat.

Watch this space!

Copyright the Volunteerism Gazette 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

From Volunteer Management to Leadership: Part 2

Applying principles of leadership to Volunteer Management

Stefan Wills talks about a number of key principles which inform and guide our leadership practice.


I would like to look at Stefan’s principal’s headings and apply them to volunteer management:

Key Principle One – Self-Realisation

Are you on the road to becoming the best volunteer manager you can be? What does this mean for you? Managing volunteers and volunteer programs encapsulates many skills and talents. To me, taking a leadership role encompasses knowledge of best practice in the field, indeed an acceptance that a field of volunteer management exists.

In terms of Volunteer Management what does self-realisation mean for you?

For me – it’s about being confident about my job and the place of my role in society. Volunteer Managers make a difference. I am confident of that because I see it dailyy, not of course isolated to my own role but in the many volunteer managers I have come across.

Key Principle Two – Holistic Connections

Volunteer managers manage. Other line managers manage. Managing paid staff has the demarcation of people providing a service for pay. Managing volunteers I postulate has inherently in built leadership fabric because people can choose to follow your organisation and you.

If I volunteer for an organisation it is because of different reasons. One is I believe in the cause of the organisation. Another is that I believe that the recipients of the service are better off because of my volunteering. Others may include of course the “what’s in it for me” aspects. But once I am volunteering if I don’t admire, respect, and look up to my manager then there may not be sufficient enough reason for me to give my best. To me as a volunteer, the person managing my activity plays a huge role in how I see my volunteering.

I’ve worked with cranky uninspiring bosses in a paid capacity. I am lees inclined to do so if my volunteer manager is cut from the same cloth. The first Volunteer manager I worked for in Ireland inspired me to work in community service. The first volunteer manager I worked under in Australia inspired me to become a volunteer manager. To me they were both natural leaders. They just didn’t operationally manage. They led and inspired by their example by which they were and by how they behaved.

Key Principle Three – Collective Leadership

For this principal I will quote directly from Stefan. Because in my opinion when you read his views on this principal you find that it can apply directly to volunteer managers. I don’t feel I am being lazy by quoting Stefan in full here from his article because feel I need not add to what he says here one iota!

“For those who believe in the value of looking at themselves and attaining self-esteem and are then able to connect fully with others, their attention shifts to the motivations and desires of the people around them. Here lies one of the greatest myths in the various debates around the real meaning of leadership. Leaders are too often and too quickly individualized, turned into romantic heroes, their contribution escalated beyond all others. It is not always a single individual who provides the major stimulus for collective movement and change. More often it resides somewhere in the connections and relationships, so it is often much harder to fathom and fully understand.

What is clearer is that within such unions, there is a strong desire by all the constituents to look after and nurture one another and ensure that the conditions created will allow for personal learning and growth. All members are focused on the creation of a strong collective energy and spirit, ultimately being able to call themselves a high performing team.

As well as being open and caring towards one another, all the team members are focused on being open to being influenced and being influential in the expression of their views. This kind of collective leadership is built upon an influence relationship among leaders and followers who are all working towards real changes which reflect their jointly held values and mutual purposes.”

The key for me here is “all the team members are focused on being open to being influenced and being influential in the expression of their views.” How are you able to go from volunteer management to this collective leadership? Do volunteers and others you work with consider you influential? How do you allow volunteers to influence your program and organisation? If not, can you facilitate this happening?

Key Principle Four – Meaningful Purpose

Stefan writes “Most often, this is what they consider to be a contribution, beyond the purely materialistic, which will enhance and enrich the lives of themselves and others”

On these principals we have so many advantages being in volunteer management. Often we don’t see this. Habitually I will argue, we exhibit great leadership in our roles but we can’t see the trees for the forest.

We are doing the leadership work in so many ways yet fail to realise how this is so. Yet I say to you – the more we look into good leadership practice the more we discover the abundance of it amongst our field.

When we can start naming it as such, then we are able to articulate our worth better to our organisations, our communities, to our management colleagues in other fields and to the decision makers in our society.

Could it be that our field unknowingly is, by its very nature, already ahead of others in the leadership area? Not that we will take succor by being “ahead” of anyone.

Our real contribution to management anywhere will be the sharing of how we lead. There are thousands of books on management and leadership. Perhaps one day one of us will write a book with a title along the lines of “Leadership – managing your teams as if they were volunteers”.

Some of you will get that.

Some may not.

To be continued…..

With thanks to Rob Jackson from the UK for a pointer in the direction of Stefan’s article.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Volunteer Management : Can the struggle within be keeping us without?

In a recent post on i-volunteer.org I wrote “Can they (Volunteer Managers) not aspire to take those extra steps in leadership? Are they not allowed? Is career advancement a dirty concept for volunteer management?” I was responding to another post critical about my ideas for leadership in our sector.

And then something’s struck me today. Nah, too mild. Certain thoughts slammed into me today and left me reeling.

“Volunteer management can’t be allowed to advance too much because this will cost money. And though we like to argue that volunteering doesn’t come for free the intrinsic core belief associated with volunteers are that they are unpaid and as such the very idea of having a profession engaging them is anathema to a certain philosophy itself.

I get it now. And it’s an important lesson for those in volunteer management who consider their profession a sector and it is an even more important lesson for those in National associations for volunteer management.

The crew is not with you by any measure or fashion!

It’s all about volunteering and its association of no cost. Those of us who have been pushing the barrel for years that volunteering does not come for free are winning minor battles but losing the war.

For it’s a civil war as such.

A response to an article I had on i-volunteer sums it up

“Leadership breakfasts? Innovative concepts in management? Look, it's all very well having volunteer managers high up in the organisational hierarchy keeping themselves busy going to networking lunches and issuing buzzword-laden policies and strategies to demonstrate how innovative they're being. But the reality is that in any Third Sector organisation it's the staff actually on the ground doing the actual real work of fundraising/service provision who are the ones who are truly managing volunteers on a day-to-day basis.”

I can disagree with the author of the above but I have to praise the same author for articulating precisely the opposition I have encountered within the sector to growing volunteer management, to getting volunteer management recognised as a sector and to having parity of pay in terms of management positions etc.

Such a pattern is emerging that I can no longer discount this feeling I get. And it is this: the biggest barriers we face in the advancement of our sector are being put up by ourselves. Not just that but there may be a significant amount of people who feel that they are not barriers to begin with but merely checkpoints and stop signs along the way.

STOP! There is no such thing as a profession of volunteer management!

This risks professionalizing volunteering – the greatest of juxtapositions!

HALT! WHO GOES THERE? If you have been fighting over your titles for many years now no one can take you seriously and nor should they. Volunteer Manager: Manager of volunteers. Coordinator. Director. And our favorite – administrator of volunteers! LOL

STOP! International Volunteer Management Day? Are you serious?

Volunteers are the ones who deserve recognition and praise. The whole concept of this day gives us an “icky” feeling”. We were able to make you get rid of International Volunteer Manager Recognition Day. Your other title will fade way soon too. After all you take away from International Volunteer Day. You will confuse the media re both days re lessen the impact of the message on volunteerism.

HALT! WHO GOES THERE? Consultants who present on volunteer management or write on the topic and who might make a buck doing so?
How dare they make money on the backs of volunteering? We are seeing through you. We will ignore you at our major conferences and we won’t consult with you while the evil dollar sign is brandished on your forehead!

STOP! An award for excellence in volunteer management?

How dare you? Awards are for the "vollies" not you! It is a privilege to work with the volunteers – it makes us cringe that you self promote your own position!

HALT! WHO GOES THERE? Who are you to challenge definitions of volunteering enshrined in our id!

All this from within and all the above real life experiences.

I was encouraged a few years ago by a conference on volunteering with a theme along the lines of “ride the new wave of volunteering”

Yea right. Many have fallen off the surfboard since. The same old waves keep ebbing away and no ones ridin' 'em in my view!

You won’t hear this kinda talk in many circles of volunteerism because too many people are minding their Ps and Qs for all sorts of political reasons.

Awhile back I wrote an article titled “Asleep at the wheel” for e-volunteerism

My thought process has since been re routed. It’s not about who is asleep at the wheel anymore in our sector – it’s all about who is at the wheel.

And right now it’s not me and my ilk. Nevertheless I am there in the backseat talking away. If they manage to lock me in the boot you will still here me tapping away.

For we will never give up!

Why this blog. Why do I rant as I do?

My reasons are simple:

I once worked as a volunteer coordinator where I was unrecognized and our volunteer service was unresourced.

I worked hard. I love volunteer management. Anyone though that says it is easy is not in volunteer management!

I came to the conclusion that volunteers provided a very important service

I came to the conclusion that the organisations could and should value the team more

Could value me more

And I fought to get that recognition

And I succeeded.

But I met others

In the same boat.

Who have met me over the years.

Who have rang me.

Who have spoken to me privately.



Under resourced.

Under pressure.

What gives?

Because it is volunteerism it is ok?

Because it is within community services it is acceptable?

“If I were in it for the money I wouldn’t be in it at all – I only do this for the love of the job” “If they stopped paying me tomorrow I would still do it”

That’s the other side to contend with.

Real people doing real jobs leading real movement facilitating real change.

The Volunteer Manager

Judge how an organisation sees its volunteers by how it sees its volunteer manager!

That’s my simple “value equation” and I am sticking by it!


Monday, June 14, 2010


So here’s the cynic in me folks: at my state volunteering centre over the years I have noticed at network meetings many new faces every few months. It’s one of those network meetings where people sit around saying who they are, where they work and how many volunteers “they have” ( as if that mattered) So you hear their introductions and you try to get to know their names for future reference and then when you get to another meeting in 6 months they are gone. And the network goes back to the same old same old…. where people sit around saying who they are, where they work and how many volunteers “they have” (as if that mattered) So you hear their introductions and you try to get to know their names for future reference and then when you get to another meeting in 6 months they are gone. And the network goes back to the same old same old….

And your estimation of the movie “Groundhog Day” grows!

And nobody talks about this at the meeting. After all we are all new (mostly). And old heads like me have been guilty of remaining silent and other “old heads” have simply left the network. In fact some of us have formed a network of our own where more than 4 managers have been in the position for over 4 years!! Which should be news I guess and which I must share with the globally respected “Volunteerism Gazette”

And this is where the cynic in me not only dances an Irish jig but performs the river dance. This agency and others provides training for those new to the field. And its volunteer management training 101.So.....new fresh people all of the time!

People don’t stay in the job long enough to consider concepts such as advanced VM or leadership.

“Hi – I’m Jan and I have 300 volunteers”. Good luck with that Jan - hope to see ya in 6 months.

Cynical? – I suppose. Sarcastic? - A given!

Martin J Cowling of People First Total Solutions has produced the evidence to suggest we are not staying in our jobs.

What can leaders do to turn this around?

What can leaders do to turn the field around?

It must happen. It will happen. The first step will be the call of those who are shouting that our collective head is buried in the sand.

Though they will be ridiculed, called trouble makers or pot stirrers they will keep shouting and getting louder until there is a fundamental shift in the way we look at volunteer management and leadership.

“Hi – I’m Jan and I lead 300 people”

It need not be such a monumental shift in how we think.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Volunteer Management and Social Media: Are we keeping up with the times?

My colleague Jayne Cravens has been talking about this for years. A person ahead of her time. A leader. Jayne will be surprised to hear that I was once a little skeptical of her message.

No longer.

I have engaged the social media revolution by writing this blog. I have engaged with just under 1,000 individual visitors in just under 3 months! And pages have been downloaded just under 3,000 times. It has blown me away! People from 27 different nations have visited this site! And setting up a blog hasn’t been that hard.

A year ago I knew little of blogs, and how to track website hits etc…
Now I am promoting my blog through various social mediums! All of this from a guy who didn’t get social media a few years back.

Its no fad.

And the field of volunteer management need to be there. We need to get it. I suggest that volunteers already do. A grasp on social media is a requisite for our leadership!

Now marvel at this posted on YouTube


Social Media and Volunteer Management! - We can’t afford to miss the boat

Friday, June 11, 2010

From Volunteer Management to Leadership: Part 1

Volunteer management is a very busy role. We know this. I hear this all the time. And I experience it firsthand. Do we get so busy though that we renege on the leadership aspect? Is your role an operational function albeit one that indeed may be performed well. Are we managers or are we leaders? Volunteer Management is many things. Does leadership enter the equation? If good management can be learnt can leadership? Or are people born leaders?

A couple of things prompted this blog entry. One is a fantastic program/course I am currently doing on leadership. Of which I hope to write plenty about when I finish. The other is some things I have heard from colleagues in the field.

I have enough anecdotal evidence to convince me that some people come to a sudden stop in their volunteer management journey, pause and begin to ask some pertinent and dare I say existential questions. I know that I have myself. And I consider myself fortunate enough that others have shared similar moments. And it is these – “where do I go from here?” “Where are the advanced and innovative concepts on management in my field now?” “Who is talking about leadership in my field?”

Let me share a tale: 3 colleagues, who shall remain nameless, from different parts of Australia who I feel, were great leaders as well as managers and thinkers: gone from the field within the last 2 years. I should say – lost to the field.

We bemoan the fact (or ignore) sometimes the high turnover in volunteer management. We err in not seeking data on why people have left. As such – an exit survey for our profession is sorely lacking.

Apart from those who have left I hear from some a frustration at the lack of focus on leadership. The lack of dialogue on same. I fear we may be losing some people who feel their leadership potential may be stifled in our industry.

We don’t talk about it which is a shame because I have no doubt that there are numerous leaders out there in volunteer management globally. Some will jump up and down and disagree with what I am saying. Ok – show me where we are defining leadership? Show me where we are nurturing great leadership of the future. Show me where we are engaging great leaders from other sectors to inspire leaders in our own. Which I think is necessary – this cross sector pollination that for some reason we don’t prefer to engage in?

Show me the leadership forums we are on. Tell me about the leadership breakfasts you attend with other leaders?

Show me the panels of leaders at leadership symposiums featuring a volunteer manager? I am not saying all of the above doesn’t exist. I just haven’t seen much of it in my sphere of experience. I would be delighted to learn of this and publicize this.

John C Maxwell had a very interesting take on leadership when he stated “ Leadership is influence – “nothing more, nothing less”. Do we influence? Who do we influence? Do we need to influence to be good leaders?

If we were to ask what ten traits make a good volunteer manager and then what ten traits make a good volunteer leader would we get different answers?

To be continued…

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Volunteer Management: We’re the Voice – try and understand it!

Government axe starts to fall on volunteerism sector in the UK.

Volunteer rights enquiry to be set up.

Volunteers in survey say they don’t get enough recognition from organisations.

Volunteer numbers decline.

These can all be headlines and indeed most of them have been in recent weeks and months. By headlines of course I mean in our circles within volunteerism…they are not exactly front page news items are they?

Can managers of volunteers be advocates for the volunteering sector as a whole? For Volunteerism, if that word is all inclusive of everyone involved from volunteers, managers, peak bodies, consultants etc.

Are you, as volunteer manager, an advocate for your volunteer team? For individual volunteers?

If volunteerism is being threatened should managers of volunteers and their associations be speaking out? I thought that this was a given? But perhaps this is not the general feeling?

I would like to think that we can be advocates and activists for volunteering. But then I think that we fall down in so many ways in this regard when it comes to our own Field.

Someone once asked me what I thought the 10 traits of a good manager of volunteers were?

So here I offer one:

The ability to advocate for one’s own profession and for volunteers.

A given?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

GUEST POST: not a whisper, not a note, not a jot of a reference to managers of volunteers!

Sue Hine, Independent Advocate, Wellington, New Zealand

I can be a very rude and cynical person, and the following press release brings out the worst in me. Please tell me where I have got it wrong in my response ….


Coalition government confirm plans for social action and volunteering
23rd May at 17:27

The full programme for the coalition government has been now been published. Described by David Cameron and Nick Clegg as ''historic'' here's what's been pledged in relation to social action and volunteering.
'The Government believes that the innovation and enthusiasm of civil society is essential in tackling the social, economic and political challenges that the UK faces today. We will take action to support and encourage social responsibility, volunteering and philanthropy, and make it easier for people to come together to improve their communities and help one another.

1. We will support the creation and expansion of mutuals, co-operatives, charities and social enterprises, and enable these groups to have much greater involvement in the running of public services.

2. We will give public sector workers a new right to form employee-owned co-operatives and bid to take over the services they deliver. This will empower millions of public sector workers to become their own boss and help them to deliver better services.

3. We will train a new generation of community organisers and support the creation of neighbourhood groups across the UK, especially in the most deprived areas.

4. We will take a range of measures to encourage charitable giving and philanthropy.

5. We will introduce National Citizen Service. The initial flagship project will provide a programme for 16 year olds to give them a chance to develop the skills needed to be active and responsible citizens, mix with people from different backgrounds, and start getting involved in their communities.

6. We will use funds from dormant bank accounts to establish a 'Big Society Bank', which will provide new finance for neighbourhood groups, charities, social enterprises and other non-governmental bodies.

7. We will take a range of measures to encourage volunteering and involvement in social action, including launching a national day to celebrate and encourage social action, and make regular community service an element of civil service staff appraisals.

Before you swallow all this as fine and wonderful, a brave new world in which all your long-lost prayers for volunteerism, your NGO services, your best practice management of volunteers will be answered, consider the renegade’s views:

• Yaaaa….w…n…. Enthusiasm for civil society is a bit of re-cycling from a couple of decades ago. Ditto ‘social responsibility’. What I know is that people coming together to improve their communities and to help one another takes one heck of a lot more than good intentions and a government policy.

• Hello! Devolution of power from public servants? Community organisers, Neighbourhood groups? In another age we would have called this anarchy – only now anarchy has become a political instruction for social action.

• Community organisers were the most despised and rejected of men and women in the 60s and 70s for their activism in ‘community development’. I am suspicious of the rehabilitation of this term.

• Maybe there will be some tax breaks for philanthropic disbursements. But I bet there will be a lot more boundaries put on the charity $, who it goes to and for what purposes.

• Get them while they’re young. That’s the story. Rub their faces in what it means to be a responsible citizen, being multi-cultural, and force them to get involved in their communities. A National Citizen Service is not going anywhere.

• A Big Society Bank? Let’s do a raid and see just how much funds they will release for my really good community project.

• [Pause, for scribe to stop laughing.] I’m sorry, I have been laughing out loud at the image of public service bureaucrats compelled to undertake regular community service. The least the government can do is ensure such efforts are not confused with the Justice system and community sentencing….[further giggles, sote voce]

OK – my comments are directed at the plotting of the UK government, a newly elected Conservative/Liberal coalition. The really astute among you will notice (and I hope it hits you in the face) there is not a whisper, not a note, not a jot of a reference to managers of volunteers, the sine qua non of achieving the government’s aims and intentions.

So where is the voice for managing volunteers, and how can we make it heard?

Sue Hine began volunteering a very long time ago. Sue has been engaged with community organisations for more than 40 years, as a trainer, facilitator and clinical supervisor, and a volunteer in all sorts of roles. Her direct experience of managing volunteers is brief by some standards, just 6 years. But it was volunteering that taught Sue most about management, what worked and what didn’t, what made her feel valued and how a poorly run organisation did Sue and their client group a big disservice. Now Sue has become re-tyred, freed from alignment to any organisation, and free to tell you what she thinks and to float ideas that might get you thinking.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hello Labor! Hello Liberals! Volunteer Management Policy?

Volunteer Management Political Idea.

Here in Australia things are heating up politically in what will be an election year. Polls are indicating that it could be a tight contest between the labor party and the Coalition. Our Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and opposition leader Tony Abbott are in full election fighting mode!

As a lover of the political process I will be watching even more closely!

Politicians. We see them often at volunteering events. In fairness to them, many make the effort to attend events that rightly recognize community effort in our society.

It is often forgotten in volunteerism land that volunteering plays a large part in the political process. All political parties engage volunteers. Check out the Labor and Liberal website and you will see how they actively seek volunteers for their campaigns. I haven’t seen anywhere if they actually engage salaried volunteer managers to lead their programs. A good idea? Be interesting to gauge if some “purists” think that this is not real volunteering!

But volunteering it is and is called as such by all parties.
In a much earlier posts I talked about writing to parties looking for some policy on support for the volunteer management sector.
I think I may just leave it as just this post.

And here’s the reason why.

Parties are always looking for innovative policies.

Here’s one policy opportunity for any party interested.

I’ll even write the announcement for yez!

“Our party has always been a supporter of the volunteering sector and recognizes the contribution of the millions of volunteers in our nation. We will continue to support volunteering by (fill blanks in here)
We also recognize the contribution that volunteer managers are making. We recognise that volunteer projects and programs require planning and organizing as well as coordination and leadership. True leaders inspire and we recognize that leaders of volunteer teams facilitate positive change in our community. We value the growing profession that is volunteer management and importantly we recognize it as a profession. Our party will develop policy to ensure that there is more focus on having adequate resources available to ensure organisations engage volunteer management.

Because our party understands that volunteers do not come for free. We understand that it is important that volunteers receive adequate training and orientation. We believe volunteers should receive recognition for their contribution and should be treated equitably by the organisations that engage them. Our party believes that the rights of volunteers should be understood and protected by an ethical profession. We therefore will undertake to provide funding for a professional association of Volunteer Management. We will provide funding for staff to administer the organisation which will ensure there is an accreditation process for volunteer management and that there is a robust scholarship program for the field.

We will also explore improvements in the educational path to volunteer management. Our minister for volunteering will also engage the VM sector more robustly ensuring the sector is consulted with other stakeholders on issues pertaining to volunteering. Our party believes it is time Volunteer Managers became fuller stakeholders! Our party believes that the Volunteer Management sector is a natural advocate of volunteerism and we belive that this sector is indisputably an important cog in the wheel of civil engagement."

Sure the above needs much tweaking. Add to it if you can.
Will any politician ever come across this humble little blog? I aint sending it anywhere. But anyone can use it.

Let’s see what happens

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Volunteerism Gazette News Headlines: UFOs, Volunteer Management

By Don J Volau

June 5 2010

Strange spiraling lights were seen over Eastern Australia last night. The light trail was seen between 5.45am and 6am by people in Canberra, Sydney's north shore and Queensland.

Also yesterday, Volunteer Management was finally recognised with the Inclusion of Volunteer Management on the main themes of the upcoming National Conference and with AAVA putting in a submission and receiving funding from government and with the announcement of the first ever national conference for Volunteer Management.

When asked to comment on last night’s strange happenings Volunteer Manager DJ Cronin stated “Oh, I am very skeptical on such events – I simply don’t believe it to be true. One has to be rational I guess. People make up stories all the time”

When asked about the UFO sightings Mr. Cronin stated that one just had to have an open mind.

With thanks to CNN, NBC, ABC and Reuters

Thursday, June 3, 2010


In my view Susan J Ellis more often than not provides a wonderful take on issues pertaining to volunteerism on her Hot Topic column on her Energize website. I have found myself looking forward to the start of each month so that I can read the months topic and I have replied often. I encourage you to have a look at this months topic. Though the matter is a little US specific it truly effects us all in Volunteer Management wherever we reside in the globe.


I reprint my reply to the hot topic on this blog.

I encourage you to reply on Susans website. Lets get loud folks and send a message! Say that DJ sent you! :-)


I believe that it matters

here was my response

Dear Susan

My reply to your post veers away from your final 3 questions and focuses more on what you call the blazing red warning lights.

Though very much an American specific issue this time it does offer volunteer management sectors in any part of the globe a glimpse at what can occur when the field is not consulted.

My hypothesis is that the field is not truly consulted on such issues because people don’t realise or believe that such a field exists! It gets harder when people within the field itself can’t see or believe that such a field exists! A weak and toothless volunteer management sector exhibits many symptoms. The issue that you attempt to get to the heart of here is but one. I would love to hear your views sometime in the future why your nation is still struggling to form an effective national professional association.

Furthermore you say that one reason that volunteer management is not at the Reimagining Service table is that the VM field is largely invisible at the national decision-making, political level. The one worded question I keep coming back to is “why?”

Rather than perpetuate a victimhood state of affairs why can’t we more seriously analyze our current invisibility in a real and mature fashion. Since I’ve been beating the same drum for awhile I’ve been reminded that good things are happening. But not enough in my humble opinion. So even though the muscles are getting weary I vow not to stop beating this drum ‘till someone listens. And someone is listening when Reimagining Service is consulting our sector, when VMs realise that we are a sector, when Government consult with us, when National associations for volunteering realise we are part of the picture, when volunteer management becomes a key topic at National conferences on volunteering, when the press approach us for views pertaining to volunteerism, when our professional associations have high membership and are able to fund staff to take their associations to the next level. When we are rightly significant on a national level!

To paraphrase Shakespeare – something is rotten in the state of volunteer management.

Individually, volunteer managers are doing great things. I know this.

Collectively we are also achieving some wonderful things.

But on national scales we don’t seem to matter. And when decisions are made at national levels then it does impact on us. It’s like Government saying that they plan to increase volunteering levels by 50% but don’t consult with the VM field about it.

“Sure – we’ll campaign to get another million registered volunteers but we won’t look at ensuring the resources are there to enable and facilitate such growth”……”volunteers have managers???”…”who knew?”

I hope you won’t mind that I’ve repeated this on my blog and expand on the matter. Thank you for giving me the food for thought.

PS – I am assuming that you didn’t receive a reply from President Obama to your open letter? Perhaps I have missed it on your site?

Warm regards

DJ Cronin

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"It's not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred with the sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause and who, at best knows the triumph of high achievement and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." (Theodore Roosevelt)

Arrogance – so be it if you bring new ideas into the world of volunteer management!

Hosting one’s own blog can be fraught with risks. Mainly those associated with the “who the hell does he think he is?” type. And I guess that comes with the territory of making public your personal views.

One of the main reasons I do this is that I can no longer keep my head down. I love what I do – I love my profession and I love to share what I think! LOL as many know already.

In many case I keep my own counsel but a blog gives me an opportunity to talk, speculate, conjure up thought processes, and stimulate emotive responses and provide yet another avenue where one has the potential to give birth to a new idea in volunteer management.

Maybe someone out there will someday post an idea or a thought that will be our most amazing Eureka moment!

Who knows? I am ambitious!

I am delighted to see people posting on this blog so far. I hope that others do too.

It’s already a site with serious reflection, satire, humour and devil advocacy!

Above all – this site does not take itself too seriously. Though serious issues can be addressed now and then

Then post

Talk to me


I just love that word. It’s so rich with possibilities!

I was inspired to post this piece after reading another blog

So With thanks to Seth Godin and his wonderful blog at



This is a fear and a paradox of doing work that's important.

A fear because so many of us are raised to avoid appearing arrogant. Being called arrogant is a terrible slur, it means that you're not only a failure, but a poser as well.

It's a paradox, though, because the confidence and attitude that goes with bringing a new idea into the world ("hey, listen to this,") is a hair's breadth away, or at least sometimes it feels that way, from being arrogant.

And so we keep our head down. Better, they say, to be invisible and non-contributing than risk being arrogant.

That feels like a selfish, cowardly cop out to me.

Better, I think, to make a difference and run the risk of failing sometimes, of being made fun of, and yes, appearing arrogant.

It's far better than the alternative.

A site connecting volunteers, charities and volunteer managers

A few months ago I stumbled across what in my opinion is a great site called i-volunteer


i-volunteer aims to enable people with passion for their community to connect with, learn from, inspire and support each other in what they are trying to do. The idea was originated by Jamie Thomas and the team at social enterprise Red Foundation, and was subsequently informed by research undertaken through the Modernising Volunteering programme.

This showed that some volunteers and workers were reluctant to use generic social networks as they struggled to get their voices heard in a crowded community and were concerned about mixing personal and volunteer related networking. Our research, which consulted over a 1,000 people, found a large appetite for a bespoke network for volunteering that not only enabled volunteers to get together but which also brought those that work with volunteers together in the same space too.

Red Foundation decided to support a pilot and donated funds and other resources to create the site which launched on International Volunteer Day, 5th December 2009.

What I love about this site is the up to date news – the contributions from members and the forum space created to encapsulate varying views from various people within the volunteerism spectrum.

I also like how the website is laid out and user friendly. I noted in a recent posting I made to the site “However I am noting that its reach seems to be going beyond the UK with members in Australia, New Zealand and the US for starters!!!
Room for I-volunteer.org.global???? “

To which Jamie Thomas replied

“We thought it best to start off in the UK and then see if there is a demand for overseas - which given you're here shows there might be”

Though a UK site, many of its features have a universal flavor.

I have argued many times before that the issues we face as a volunteer management sector and the trends we see in volunteering are very often similar across the globe.

Watch this site develop! I think they are on to something great!

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