Thursday, November 17, 2011

Volunteering quote!

Volunteering is the trend that transcends all trends and will one day be forever cool or the word that supplants cool…after all something that just keeps on giving and giving will never be uncool!

DJ Cronin

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On where we are at and what we say.

I’ve been blogging for over 17 months now. And anyone except for the non occasional reader can tell that I have the same few points. Indeed maybe some will say that I go on about the same old thing again and again and again and again.

And again.

For that I make no apology. For I only go on and on about any matter if I think it’s an ongoing issue in our sector.

Sometimes I feel like it’s a crime to expect that volunteer management should be a well resourced and well paid occupation. And this is a major “fall down” aspect of our sector. The same I suppose could be said of many areas in community service. The old line goes like this “ if you are in any sort of community service such as volunteering, caring for the disadvantaged, a carer, counselor, social worker, youth worker, etc then you will not be paid as much and in my opinion linked to something that is valued as much as other professions.”

As much as I hate to admit it there is a connection surely between value and pay when it comes to employees. And of course being in volunteer management leads to major conundrums when it comes to that thought bubble. But one we must face up to. Those with a want to disagree will say that such thinking flies in the face of volunteering. We don’t pay volunteers so there is lesser value. A ridiculous statement right? Or is it? Is there a subconscious feeling in operation here that because there is no cash figure placed upon it there is less meaning and less worth?

I have no doubt that this is the case. I think the whole philosophy stinks but I am not an ostrich with my head in the sand about the matter and I am pretty certain that this is one of the many reasons why Volunteer management remains an under resourced and undervalued profession and why it’s even referred to as a profession by so few of us in the volunteer management sector. And we remain where we are because some in the sector subscribe to the same view. “I aint in it for the dollar” and “I’m in volunteer management for the only reason that I love volunteering and volunteers.”

Is the idea of providing a professional service which will result in better volunteering outcomes a complete anathema to some? If so why is that???

What do volunteers deserve? Professionally run programs? Leadership teams that last the distance and spend the time on strategic development ensuring the best outcomes for volunteers and those they serve? Advocates for better run volunteer programs that can get the resources that they deserve from organisations that can do that? Volunteering solutions?

Not free labor. Not money saving. But real value. People value. Skills value. Heart and soul value as well as the accepting of skill and time from those who donate it for their own reasons.

Volunteering used to be an “out of the goodness of my heart activity”. And it still is…but that’s not the exclusive reasoning behind volunteering any more.

To me it’s the end result of volunteering that matters.

We spend so much, too much maybe, time on our ever so serious debates on definitions of volunteering and big society and social capitol and generations and Xers versus boomers etc that we lose sight of the real volunteering stuff….the receiver at the end of it.

Because volunteerism deserves all the recognition and support it can get and that includes the notion that volunteer management must be taken seriously.

Unfortunately our issues lie within the volunteerism sector itself. Unless we can sort ourselves out first we will never be taken seriously by other stakeholders in the community.

Regrettably there has been little or no dialogue from our sector on such matters. Those few who do speak up or often cast as trouble makers.
The critics in our sector ( and these are those who have sometimes been critical of lack of progress in our sector) have recently been spoken of badly in some blogs and commentaries.

They are seen by some to be just critical all the time so therefore unworthy of an audience, a debate or an understanding.

Regrettably I have seen some bloggers and commentators in our sector lately come under personal attack for expressing views. Some have refused to publish posts to their sites because of attacks of a personal nature. This is shameful in my opinion. And I cannot remain silent on the tone of some of the conversation that exists in our sector.

I know of some people, in various nations who are refusing to publish their opinion for fear of personal attack. This is a ludicrous situation.

Too many people are having a say under the” brave” title of ‘Anonymous” or utilizing pseudonyms. Yes, that’s the nature of Social Media these days. However it’s interesting to note that Anonymous letters will not be printed in most print media (unless requested where name address and number is nevertheless provided to the letters editor)

People must be able to express their opinions without the fear of personal attack. Freedom of speech demands this.

My other concern though is the silence of those in the sector on these matters who are quick to offer an opinion on various topics. Those purporting to be “voices” or taking leadership roles in the sector.

Let us please continue our debates. Let us please agree to differ. Let us grow through our differences. Let us become wiser and learn from each other. But let us not become bitter and personal. Let us speak of constructive ways to find solutions to our differences.

And if we speak out...Let us be consistent, brave and emotionally intelligent enough to speak out for what is right and fair.

‘History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.’
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Self belief

Sometimes we can get a little lost in our roles. By that I mean we can get caught up in the busyness and feel like it’s difficult to come up for air.
Very often we work in isolation. This is why it’s healthy to have networks and colleagues to support us.

But every now and then I think it is worthwhile to have a little self dialogue. I am a person who believes in self affirmations. I know its not for everyone and each to their own. But here is one I found a while ago. The author is unknown. If you do know who wrote it please let me know.

“There may be days when you get up in the morning and things aren't the way you had hoped they would be, that’s when you have to tell yourself that things will get better.

There are times when people disappoint you and let you down, but those are the times when you must remind yourself to trust your own judgments and opinions, to keep your life focused on believing in yourself and all that you are capable of.

There will be challenges to face and changes to make in your life, and it is up to you to accept them.

Constantly keep yourself headed in the right direction for you. It may not be easy at times, but in those times of struggle you will find a stronger sense of who you are, So when the days come that are filled with frustration and unexpected responsibilities, remember to believe in yourself and all you want your life to be, because the challenges and changes will only help you to find the goals that you know are meant to come true for you.

Keep believing in yourself. “

Friday, November 4, 2011


Effective Volunteer management is about leadership

"Rely on your own strength of body and soul. Take for your star self-reliance, faith, honesty and industry. Don't take too much advice — keep at the helm and steer your own ship, and remember that the great art of commanding is to take a fair share of the work. Fire above the mark you intend to hit. Energy, invincible determination with the right motive, are the levers that move the world."
Noah Porter

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
John Quincy Adams

"Any one can hold the helm when the sea is calm."
Publilius Syrus

Effective Volunteer management is about Action

"To be a great leader and so always master of the situation, one must of necessity have been a great thinker in action. An eagle was never yet hatched from a goose's egg."
James Thomas

"Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way."
Abraham Lincoln

"Go before the people with your example, and be laborious in their affairs."

Effective Volunteer Management is inspiring

Inspiration and genius--one and the same.
Victor Hugo

"The more difficulties one has to encounter, within and without, the more significant and the higher in inspiration his life will be."
Horace Bushnell

Effective volunteer management brings about change

"Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change - this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress."
Bruce Barton

"Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts."
Arnold Bennett

"He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery."
Harold Wilson

Effective Volunteer Management is bold!

"Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute! Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Only engage, and then the mind grows heated. Begin, and then the work will be completed."
Jean Anouilh

"It is better by noble boldness to run the risk of being subject to half the evils we anticipate than to remain in cowardly listlessness for fear of what might happen."

"It is wonderful what strength of purpose and boldness and energy of will are roused by the assurance that we are doing our duty."
Walter Scott

Effective Volunteer Management makes a difference

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." ~Anne Frank

"The purpose of life is not to be happy - but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all." ~Leo R

And Finally for Volunteer Managers around the globe:

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does." ~William James

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rob Jackson On YouTube on International Volunteer Managers Day!

OK! Here’s a way we can support International Volunteer Managers Day! Let’s support a colleague who has taken the time and effort to make a You Tube video about the day!

I have only met Rob Jackson once but I am confident in saying that this is a man who is an absolute advocate for our profession!

I think he has made history in being the first person to create a vlog on IVMD????

This vid has 22 views. It deserves much more. Please spread it around!
Hear Robs views By clicking on the title of the blog!

Support IVMD by watching this on Youtube!!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Where are the Fireworks on International Volunteer Managers Day?

Sue Hines writes an interesting piece on International Volunteer Managers Day in her latest blog. The link to Sues Blogsite can be found on the right!

The view that there will be noise all round the world to celebrate the day is one, alas, I cannot share.

The problem, as I see it, with IVMD is that it is being smothered with niceness and tarnished with insignificance.

Years ago I had an issue with a well known speaker on volunteerism who basically stated the day was cringe worthy and had no time for volunteer managers patting themselves on the back. I disagreed vehemently then.

I am not so sure now.

My belief in the day and its purpose has not wavered. I am not too sure that people understand what the day is about. If small pockets of volunteer managers throughout the globe meet for tea and cakes and do nothing more for the sector itself then how is this “education through celebration”

I saw someone writing on the IVMD Facebook page that they were going to get a few Volunteer Managers together to clean up a beach. How is this “education through celebration?”

Where is IVMD being celebrated? Is the Volunteerism world itself sitting up and taking note? Let’s take a quick look at what the sector is saying 6 days before the event.

Volunteering Australia fails to mention the day in its “Latest News”. There is no story about the day on its website. Click on the Managers of Volunteers page and you find no mention of the day.

Search “International Volunteer Managers day” on its site and you get a link to the days website. Nothing more.

Ok – let’s look at the AAVA website. The professional association for Volunteer Managers in Australasia has no news on this day, which is 6 days away, on their website. It’s a bit harder for our sector to make the above comments on the lack of Interest from Volunteering Australia when our own sector is not getting it right. Stones and glasshouses and all that! There is no news about what is happening anywhere on this site for IVMD!

Same can be said of the Association of Volunteer Management website in the UK. No mention of our “big day” on their site either. A search of IVMD on the site yields a few results and articles from 2009 and 2007.

Close to home again there is no mention of IVMD on Volunteering Queensland’s webpage (would be a good story for the Wonderful VOLQLD TV Channel IMHO!)

Nadda on Volunteering New Zealands site – not even on the events calendar. Better news from Volunteering WA and Volunteering Tasmania who are highlighting some events associated with the day. Ok I guess tea and cake is better than nothing!

Rather than go on I encourage you to check your own local association or volunteer centre and check out what they are saying or doing about IVMD this year.

Sue Hines writes that “Most events will happen on Friday November 4. At least we avoid the fireworks this time.”

We actually need Fireworks for IVMD! We need more passion and to get more people to take notice.


•Drop an email to your professional body for volunteer management and ask them how they are marking the day?

•Send a blank Celebration card to your national body on volunteering. In it slip a note and write “Please don’t ignore IVMD again next year – from a Volunteer Manager!

•Send a congrats email to those organisations that do support the day

•Alert your local member of parliament/Senator about the day and encourage them to get together with local VMs

•Write a blog here on the merits or otherwise of IVMD.

For me IVMD should be about raising the profile of our profession thus increasing its value! IVMD should be the vehicle to profile Volunteer Management in a positive light. It should be used to educate organisations and the community about the importance of effective and well resourced Volunteer Management.

It should be the Blue Ribbon day for all professional associations for Volunteer Managers! It should be an important date for Volunteerism!

But is it?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How happy and fulfilled are you in Volunteer Management?

How happy and fulfilled are you at work?

Now there’s a question that may well stop you in your track. Because, let’s face it, in your busy role when was the last time you were asked that question? Have you been asked that as part of your own annual performance evaluation? Or is it a question you regularly ask yourself?
This train of thought arises from some info I’ve come across on the net. I am grateful that we live in an age where a vast amount of knowledge and information is available. In terms of volunteer management I sometimes think that we are guilty off seeking guidance or leadership from a narrow silo. That is to say that we seem to lack the courage and conviction to look outside our sector at generic leadership and management philosophy. We sometimes tend to think that Volunteer Management is so unique and different that we can’t learn from others.

Of course Volunteer management is different and unique…but I do belive we can learn from othert sectors as they can learn from us! But back to happiness and fulfillment at work. There haven’t been many surveys on the Volunteer Management sector. Not many in my memory at least. The only one that I recall is an international survey conducted by People First Total Solutions> I’ve written about that one before but it appears that it was largely ignored by the volunteerism sector. Which is a shame if I am correct?

A section on the Wall Street Journal called ‘The Source” has teamed up with the iOpener Institute for People and Performance to find out how happy and fulfilled their readers are at work. The Institute has a specially designed survey to help readers establish how happy they are at work .

Before inviting people to take part in the interview the article has some great ways of describing happiness at work

Their research shows that there are five important drivers that underpin the science of happiness at work.

1. Contribution.

This is about what you do, so it’s made up of some of the core activities which happen at work. Like having clear goals, moving positively towards them, talking about issues that might prevent you meeting your objectives and feeling heard when you do so.

2. Conviction.
This is the short-term motivation both in good times and bad. That’s the key point: keeping going even when things get tough, so that you maintain your energy, motivation and resources which pull you through.

3. Culture.
Performance and happiness at work are really high when employees feel they fit within their organizational culture. Not fitting in a job is like wearing the wrong clothes to a party—all the time.

4. Commitment.
Commitment matters because it taps into the macro reasons of why you do the work you do. Some of the underlying elements of commitment are perceiving you’re doing something worthwhile, having strong intrinsic interest in your job and feeling that the vision of your organization resonates with your purpose.

5. Confidence.
Confidence is the gateway to the other four drivers. Too little confidence and nothing happens: too much leads to arrogance and particularly poor decisions. Without greater levels of self-belief, the backbone of confidence, there will be few people who’ll take a risk or try anything new. And you can’t have confident organizations without confident individuals inside them.

To see the whole article and to do the survey follow the link by clicking on the heading of this blog!

Make you own mind up on the science of this survey because there are plenty of comments in the comments section.

I do feel it’s an interesting experiment for us to take in a sector that is devoid of self analysis and research in the first place!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Be who you must be

I’ve had a recent period of mental blockage followed by self reflection. I rewrote that first line and added mental. Attempts at humour are still there.

I like to write on volunteer management issues but recently I’ve suffered writers block. I would sit in front of the keyboard and stare at the blank screen. But nothing came. “What gives” I thought. Had I run out of things to write about? Had I said all that needs to be said on Volunteer Management?

I love Volunteer Management and I enjoy writing. Here I was fusing two passions.

So during my moments of writers block I had many competing thoughts.

“What’s the purpose of it all?”

“Finish the blog and write on other things you are passionate about”

“ write that book that’s in you and bursting to get out” That’s the espionage thriller about the secret agent posing as a Volunteer Manager who thwarts the alien takeover at the White House!

And then just as I was tiring of staring at a blank screen and as my bored fingers were getting fidgety and restless at the cobweb ruined keyboard I had a thought. I nearly said I heard a voice. But I didn’t want to freak you out. However when one says “I had a thought” I wonder what is this awareness having the thought?

Anyway the thought said

“Relax release and reflect”

The 3 Rs of writers block!!!

You cant force writing. Or if you do, it may very well come across that way. By relaxing I was able to release this frustration of not being able to write. By relaxing and releasing I was able to find the space to reflect on my writing and indeed on many other aspects on my life too. This resulted in a good moment of clarity and self awareness. Here I’ll defer to a websites definition of such matters

“To get a clear understanding of self awareness, it's a good idea to first understand awareness itself. So what is awareness?...

Simply put, awareness is our capacity to notice things. We may be aware of the time or aware of a particular situation - we may notice that we are late or that someone is watching us. Being aware of such things means we have taken note of them.

This is awareness.

Self awareness basically describes a situation where the light of awareness is turned onto ourselves. While awareness is our ability to take note; self-awareness is our ability to take note of ourselves.

When we turn our awareness to shine on ourselves, we may become conscious of a great deal of internal activity. We may notice specific thoughts or thought patterns. We may notice particular emotions or flows of energy. We may awaken to physiological processes happening in our body such as heartbeat, heat, sweating. We may notice intuitions or gut feelings.

The world of the self is rich and fascinating and we are privileged to possess the ability to actually enjoy all of this consciously. Our capacity for awareness is what makes this possible.”

Definition Of Self Awareness - What Is Self Awareness http://www.evolutionary

Our lives are busy. So often we hear the cry of “ Not enough time” from people in our sector. It is not exaggerated. So we look towards Time management workshops, Gurus or books. Sometimes we even hear “ I haven’t time to attend a time management workshop”

There is too much doing. There is too little being. As I commute to work I notice how people are still so busy. Devices of all kinds are stuck to ears of the commuter on the train. If tweeting had a noise we’d all be deaf. How long can we go without checking what our “Friends” on Facebook are up to? News is assimilated not absorbed. Politicians “live in Spin”. The modern world – I phone, I Pod, I Pad, I have forgotten to relax!

So I am thankful for my writers block. It allowed me the space to reflect. It reminded me to sit and look at everything about me. It led to a little awareness and more self awareness.

What has all this got to do with Volunteer Management one might ask? Everything and nothing!

Have you had the time lately to step back, metaphorically speaking, from your job and observe where it is at? Where you are at?

Have you looked at the people around you and wondered in awe that such inspiring people such as volunteers are in your life?

Have you looked at everybody around you and wondered why they were in your life in the first place? Or why you are in theirs?

Instead of worrying about this blog as in “What’s the purpose of it all?” I will just be and do what I do. Just be who I must be.

If one person gets something from any of this then this is a bonus.

I am grateful for my writers block. I am grateful for the space where I can reflect. I am grateful to those around me. To all those who come into my life. For the lessons, the challenges, the tears of joy and sadness, the ups and the downs.

Try a little being, a little less doing.

If Time were a person I suspect they would laugh at the concept of being managed!

I end with a piece I wrote several years ago. Its time I reflect on my own stuff more!

Be who you must me

I don’t know where you are on your path
I have never stood in your shoes
I see not with your eyes.
I know not what your purpose is here
In this stage of your evolution.
But I feel blessed to know you.
As you are not in my life by chance
And you are my teacher
As I hope you learn from me.
I pray I show reverence to you
I pray not to judge you.
I wish to let you be
Who you are
Who you dream of being.
I will just be beside you
And watch you grow.
And the day will come for sure
When we will know why
Our paths crossed this way.
And until then my friend
Be who you must be.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Erin Barnhart: "true facilitators of democratic action"

Erin Barnhart is an internationally recognized expert in domestic and international service and volunteer engagement. She has been quoted by such media sources as, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, New York Post, The Boston Globe, Smart Money, Marie Claire, and Budget Travel and has developed and delivered effective engagement tools, trainings, and resources for volunteers, volunteer resource managers, and organizations worldwide.

An AmeriCorps*NCCC alum, Erin has an MPA in Public Policy and a Graduate Certificate in Not-for-Profit Management from the University of Oregon. Following completion of her Masters Degree, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Canada to study volunteer centers (PDF) in British Columbia and the Yukon. In 2005, Erin began work on a Ph.D., studying international civic engagement at Portland State University; she expects to complete her dissertation in 2011.

Here Erin has kindly taken the time to answer 10 questions of mine on Volunteerism.

In 20 words of less, describe/define Volunteer Management

The practice and profession of engaging and facilitating collective voluntary action by global citizens and community partners

What are the 3 main differences between Volunteer Management and Human Resource Management?

1) While both professions require the building of relationships and trust with their team members, the incentives for showing up a second (and third, fourth, fifth, etc.) time are different for paid and unpaid staff. Unlike HR Managers – who may only be required to assess employee satisfaction once a year via an annual evaluation – volunteer managers must consider and assess the motivations and satisfaction of their volunteers on a daily – if not hourly – basis.

2) When the economy is tough and organizations freeze the hiring of new positions, HR Managers likely begin spending less to perhaps no time on recruitment and much more on managing existing staff needs. Conversely, the need for volunteers generally goes up – especially for human service organizations – which means that the volunteer manager is often called upon to find even more individuals to lend a helping hand, all while also maintaining relationships with and taking care of existing volunteers. This reality makes it all the more frustrating when volunteer manager positions are among the first to be cut in times of financial crisis.

3) HR Managers generally work with predetermined staff positions; there might be some room to negotiate pay, benefits, etc., but the position’s hours, expectations, etc. have almost always already been decided. In other words, applicants for paid roles apply within existing position frameworks. Alternatively, volunteer managers may have a desired framework in mind but are more often negotiating many critical details of the role, both upfront and on an ongoing basis, with potential volunteers, all while likely experiencing an higher level of turnover.

Where is the current leadership evident in Volunteer Management?

While there are a handful of national volunteerism and service organizations around the globe that are doing exciting work to support the field – Volunteering England’s recent VM initiative is one example – it does seem that much of the current leadership is driven primarily by consultants. I can see why this might be the case though: consultants are similarly immersed in the day-to-day work of their clients and audiences but also have the benefit of a 30,000 foot view. By drawing from the experiences of peers and practitioners around the globe, they are in an excellent position to offer both anecdotal and collective evidence on the state of the field. At the same time, as self-employed professionals, they may potentially have more room to innovate and try new models, all while avoiding some of the politics that others have no choice but to address.

Finish this sentence in less than 50 words… An association in volunteer management should…

...serve as the collective voice for the field, including advocating for and educating leadership and the public on the critical role volunteer management plays in facilitating meaningful, effective community engagement and providing accessible and innovative tools and resources to adequately support practitioners in the field.

There have been many debates on the definition of volunteering itself. How would you define volunteering?

I generally use two definitions to define voluntary action. First, there is “service” which I consider to be a broad umbrella under which many kinds of voluntary action efforts take place – from people serving in stipended national service programs like AmeriCorps in the United States to those who give their time as part of a court-ordered mandate. Within “service,” there is also “volunteering” which is, to me, anytime an individual freely contributes their time, skills, and perspectives to a cause or issue without expectation of financial compensation.

If you weren’t doing this what other profession would you have been interested in?

Ah, well, when I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut, but then I realized that I wasn’t gifted in science and didn’t really enjoy flying. I also wanted to be the first female President of the United States but that was before I discovered that I have very little patience for politics. Ultimately, I recognized that what I really wanted to do was find a way to help the everyday citizen make a difference. One can see why I’m such a nerd for all things volunteer management!

Who do you believe has been the most inspiring volunteer in history?

Rosa Parks. Not only was she courageous, inspirational, and utterly selfless, but she was also smart, engaged, and strategic; Rosa Parks was both an everyday citizen living in a scary, segregated world as well as an active participant – the secretary of her local chapter of the NAACP – in the struggle for Civil Rights in America.

Where do you think social media can take volunteerism and volunteer management

I think social media offers great potential for the world of volunteer engagement and management. It can potentially be used as a tool for outreach, recruitment, and building truly global connections; it can also be used to galvanize, inspire, share stories and practices, and build community among many different kinds of organizational supporters (advocates, donors, volunteers, etc.). Social media may even help to blur the lines between how we define these actors in community involvement, redefining how we engage and inform citizens to take action. While the learning curve to keep up with new models of social media as they rapidly emerge may be daunting, I’m confident that there is a real opportunity to harness the power of web-based connections for greater social and environmental good.

Does Government get volunteering? If not why not?

This is indeed a very big question. I’m hesitant to give any kind of definitive answer here as I know that governments – like all institutions – are made up of a broad and diverse spectrum of individuals and opinions. There are certainly some government entities that appear to have more readily embraced volunteer engagement but there are also many who do not seem to understand yet how important it is to engage citizens in the inner workings of their own communities - nor how much extraordinary impact individuals can have if only given the chance.

What would you like to achieve personally in the volunteerism world?

Ultimately, I’d like to help facilitate meaningful volunteer engagement in the world – those opportunities where an individual recognizes that they have ideas and skills of real value, and organizations and communities benefit from partnering with them to collectively make the world a better place. My best shot at making this happen is to harness my passion for volunteer engagement and my understanding of the importance of supported, effective volunteer leadership and focus them on serving the field of volunteer management itself. Volunteer managers are such extraordinary heroes to me; they are true facilitators of democratic action. If, throughout the course of my career. I’m able to effectively support the people who do this work day to day, I’ll feel that I’ve succeeded.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Somebody, nobody and Anybody in Volunteer Management

I recently came across a great poem by someone called Charles Osgood

“There was a most important job that needed to be done,
And no reason not to do it, there was absolutely none.
But in vital matters such as this, the thing you have to ask
Is who exactly will it be who'll carry out the task?

Anybody could have told you that everybody knew
That this was something somebody would surely have to do.
Nobody was unwilling; anybody had the ability.
But nobody believed that it was their responsibility.

It seemed to be a job that anybody could have done,
If anybody thought he was supposed to be the one.
But since everybody recognised that anybody could,
Everybody took for granted that somebody would.

But nobody told anybody that we are aware of,
That he would be in charge of seeing it was taken care of.
And nobody took it on himself to follow through,
And do what everybody thought that somebody would do.

When what everybody needed so did not get done at all,
Everybody was complaining that somebody dropped the ball.
Anybody then could see it was an awful crying shame,
And everybody looked around for somebody to blame.

Somebody should have done the job
And Everybody should have,
But in the end Nobody did
What Anybody could have.”

Funny enough, the poem reminded me a little of our sector in Volunteer Management. In particular it made me think of 2 upcoming momentous events for Volunteer Managers. Globally, International Volunteer Managers Day (IVMD) and in Australia the 2011 AAVA Volunteer Manager Award of Excellence. I’ve written about both on this blog before. I believe that both should be supported in Volunteer Management. I believe however that both concepts may fail if everybody thinks that somebody else should organise events to mark IVMD or anybody could nominate for the AAVA award but nobody does!

Many of you of course will be able to draw parallels with the following whose author is still unknown to me ( happy to attribute if you know who wrote it!)

“This is a story about four people: Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it.
Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did.

Somebody got angry (about that) because it was Everybody's job.

Everybody knew that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realised that Somebody wouldn't do it. And It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody because Nobody actually asked Anybody.”

"A very different philosophy of management is arising. We are moving beyond strategy to purpose; beyond structure to process, and beyond systems to people.... Asshole management is not inevitable."

Sumantra Ghoshal, humanist management thinker, writer and academic, 1948-2004, who believed that management should be, above all else, a force for good!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Where do we share ideas on Leadership?

I have a longing for a dialogue on leadership within our sector. Go through my blog postings and you will see this emerge. I guess I will keep coming back to it. Of course we will have to have a debate about the word “Leadership” first.:-)

Where is the Leadership Lounge in Volunteer Management? Where do you turn to for leadership ideas? Where do you turn to for a little inspiration? Leadership and inspiration are different things yes but I see them as intertwined on so many occasions.

Don’t leaders inspire?

When I see dialogue in volunteer management I still come across much of the same old dialogue Ive seen come up intermittingly over the last 14 years.

An example is some recent discussion I’ve come across on some forums. What should we call volunteers? What should we call volunteer managers? Or should that be managers of volunteers.

We seem to be addicted to questions of semantics and terminology. Meanwhile the great issues for our sector remain largely unspoken of or commented on. Yet we will get plenty of folk engaging on the semantic topics. Are basics like “what we should call each other” the Everest of our intellectual conquests in volunteer management?

Where can we form our leadership lounge? Where can we find the space to share thoughts on leadership?

Lessons in leadership can be found in many places.

One place I often go to for ideas and inspiration is the Ted Talks. Here’s the wikipedia definition of TED

“TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) is a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, formed to disseminate "ideas worth spreading."

TED was founded in 1984 as a one-off event and the conference was held annually from 1990 in Monterey, California. TED's early emphasis was largely technology and design, consistent with a Silicon Valley center of gravity. The events are now held in Long Beach and Palm Springs in the U.S. as well as in Europe and Asia, offering live streaming of the talks. They address an increasingly wide range of topics within the research and practice of science and culture. The speakers are given a maximum of 18 minutes to present their ideas in the most innovative and engaging ways they can. Past presenters include Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, Malcolm Gladwell, Al Gore, Gordon Brown, Richard Dawkins, Bill Gates, educator Salman Khan, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and many Nobel Prize winners. TED's current curator is the British former computer journalist and magazine publisher Chris Anderson.

From 2005 to 2009, three $100,000 TED Prizes were awarded annually to help its winners realize a chosen wish to change the world. From 2010, in a changed selection process, a single winner is chosen to ensure that TED can maximize its efforts in achieving the winner's wish. Each winner unveils their wish at the main annual conference.
Since June 2006,the talks have been offered for free viewing online, under a Creative Commons license, through As of August 2011, over 900 talks are available free online. By January 2009 they had been viewed 50 million times. In June 2011, the viewing figure stood at more than 500 million, reflecting a still growing global audience.

TED's mission statement begins:
We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we're building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.”

TED can be found at

The title of this blog links to a fun TED talk on leadership!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Taking a break.Chilling. Being.

Right now i'm enjoying a holiday. Smelling the roses more. Being. So Ive decided to also take a break from blogging and writing.

Happy trails to you.....

"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so."

Mary Jean Iron

Friday, September 16, 2011

A call for International collaboration on Volunteer Management

A blog I posted to I -Volunteer today. The link to I - Volunteercan be found on my favourite links here

There have been some criticisms of England’s professional body for Volunteer managers (AVM) on I-Volunteer of late. Unwarranted in my view. And I say this as a Volunteer Manager from down under!

To me, at least your association is visual. They have a fairly current and active website with some very interesting and topical blogs. People on their website can engage in conversation. As I look now the most recent comment is a couple of hours old.

I’ve seen them active on social media. I’ve seen them consulted by the press. I’ve seen them engage with Government. I’ve seen them comment on issues of the day relating to volunteerism and volunteering. I’ve seen them demonstrate a healthy relationship with the peak body for volunteering "Volunteering England". You’ve had a national campaign to recognise Volunteer Management with AVM and you have a National Conference on Volunteer Management!

So to an outsider looking on – they seem to be doing ok in my book. And fair play to them. Whilst I know that they don’t need my defense it intrigues me that they are condemned for being “London Centric”. Whatever the significance of this may be anyway.

I wouldn’t care if my association were Canberra or Sydney centric as long as they were carrying out their brief. But alas in Australia, in my opinion, things are very quiet as far as development in the volunteer management sector is concerned.

Right now you folk in the UK have great conversations on our sector as is evident by your robust debates on this great website I - volunteer.
Keep it up! Try not to make the debate personal though.

I’ve always believed that our sector is so small that we need to collaborate globally. Some professional associations around the world tried to do this once but it pretty much fell over on its arse! What happened?

There is some great dialogue and thought going on globally about Volunteer Management. How can we tie it all together somehow? How can we help each other?

These are just the thoughts of an outsider as far as your sector in the UK is concerned. But the global village of Volunteer Management is a very small one. Let’s get to know our neighbors to begin with!

Somehow I have a feeling that we can achieve much together!

Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What we do in Volunteer Management

I began a blog on “The 20 traits of Volunteer Management in 2050.” Simply because several people look at 2020 to bring about new change.

I am not as hopeful. I started writing thus:

1.Our sector will be seen as a vital part of society

2.We will extract ourselves from the traits of volunteering

And then I stopped. And then I realised, as a Volunteer Manager for many years, that I had come upon a major issue in our field. One that is, of course, not discussed due to the general lack of curiosity in research in Volunteer Management.(Oh we have heaps of research into volunteerism...great fodder for acedemia at conferences......)

And it is this.

We have for far too long equated feelings or assumptions on Volunteering with Volunteer Management.

Let me give you an example of what I am hinting at:

Volunteering is nice. Therefore Volunteer Management is nice

Volunteering is a warm, cozy and fluffy story therefore so is Volunteer Management

Volunteering is nice but not necessary therefore…….

The problem, as I see it, is that so many in our field self perpetuate this line of thinking.

On top of this we have peak bodies for volunteering in some countries not taking Volunteer Management as a profession seriously. I will resist mentioning my own national peak body …suffice to say they have never written a piece on this blog anyway or responded to other volunteer management blogs or forums and there are a few!…so enough said!!

But maybe we have attached ourselves too much to the motivations and traits for volunteering.

We do not need to do this! We need to understand the motivation behind volunteering but we do not need to be advocates for these motivations!

Let me give you an example of what I am getting at. I’ve heard it say that a prerequisite for a Volunteer Manager should be individual volunteering experience!I.e.that you need to have been a volunteer.

I absolutely disagree!

You need to have an understanding of managing or coordianting and an understanding of how you do this in relation to volunteers. Period!

I’ve done one form of volunteering or another for over 2o years. In my next volunteering role I won’t care if my manager has volunteered or not. Let’s get over our non issues! I’m happy as long as I am engaged and utilised appropriately and as long as I leave my volunteering job for the day with a sense that I achieved something!

Volunteering and Volunteer Management needs a demarcation too.

In 2050 we can have a confident, resourced and respected sector that manages and leads. Let the volunteers do what volunteers do best please!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Observations on Volunteer Management dialogue

On my own blog site several people have responded to my 10 questions on Volunteerism and Volunteer Management. I am delighted that they did and thank them. I believe that some more will be responding soon. When they have the time I suspect! I’ve always been a champion for dialogue in our sector. I believe that its important.

I see a lot of interesting dialogue on Volunteer Management in certain quarters right now and I’ve been observing some strong views over the last few months.

On I Volunteer (which has a link on this site) there has been some fascinating conversation.

Sue Jones, a training manager in Warrington UK has an excellent post there at the moment. In it she proclaims:

“And, when I say 'raise the profile' of the profession, what I really mean is that we are simply talking more about it. Whilst at first look, this might not seem like much, it's actually really important that we keep doing this - to one another, to our managers, to our colleagues, to our friends and family, to government, to our funders, our partners and most importantly across our whole organisations. Every movement needs a starting point and through communication with one another, we can explore how we really feel about stuff, gather our thoughts and then act. But this starting point does need to gather momentum and this won't happen without participation from those of you actually working in this field.”

There are obviously some wonderful things happening at Warrington as another blogger on I volunteer from there by the name of Huffee is talking about some inspirational stuff:

“Thoughtful Thursdays

We're keen to encourage more volunteer managers to share their ideas and skills. One idea that came out of the Volunteer Management Champions group was Thoughtful Thursdays. Using the hashtag #ttvolmgrs we're encouraging people to share their thoughts and experience as volunteer managers.
There's plenty more coming up, as soon as details are confirmed I'll post more here”

Love the sound of this and how they are utilizing social media to promote Volunteer Management! Fantastic!

John Ramsey has a great piece on I Volunteer

“We need to decide if this is what we as ‘volunteer managers’ want. This is not something a small group of people can do. Aside from the practical capacity issues it needs to have legitimacy. But where is the mass rising up of volunteer managers? Quite often I hear the same old reasons: I don’t have time, I’m not sure if I’ll still be here in 6 months etc etc. There’s a reason for this. It’s because volunteer management is not valued and so it becomes a vicious circle. We need to break that circle and to do that requires sacrifice, commitment and belief.”

I Volunteer has this and much more opinion on their site. So right now there is a great conversation happening so please check it out if you have the time.

Meanwhile on the Energise website which is also Linked here Susan J Ellis has chosen as her Hot Topic for the month "Addressing Volunteerism Issues in the Blogosphere"

“Sometimes I worry that I am known more for criticizing than celebrating, so I’m happy to devote this Hot Topic to praising the courageous people who post their informed opinions about volunteer-related topics online. While serious discussion of principles and issues is so often missing at major conferences in our field, in the last couple of years we’ve seen the emergence of some truly wonderful and provocative blogs. Here are some of my favorite volunteerism blogs at this time and the reasons why you should pay attention to them.”

Susan makes one particular observation that I would like to respond to:

“While some of these blogs are produced by major organizations, it is striking that the majority are written by private consultants. Is there a lesson here? Is it necessary to have a degree of independence to comment and criticize – to be willing to take risks? Do consultants feel that their primary loyalty is to the readers of their blogs – their actual target market – without having to worry about offending any third-party funding sources? What makes some organizations and individuals take a stand publicly? And that last question refers to both the blogger and the reader, who always has the choice to join in.”

My blog is not produced by a major organisation. Neither is it written by a private consultant. I have never considered readers to be a target Market though I understand the terminology. I have stated from the start that “This is my personal blog on matters pertaining to Volunteer Management and Volunteerism. It consists of my own opinions and does not represent the opinions of any other person, business or organization.”

I have always felt that the beauty of blogging lies in the fact that anyone can do it. I’ve been pulled up in the past when I’ve used the phrase “Just a volunteer manager” in this context. Whilst I understand that this word mix can cause consternation in some quarters I have used the wording to try and go to the heart of my motivation for blogging on matters related to Volunteerism and Volunteer Management. That is to say I am “just” availing of the opportunity to speak as someone who is on the ground as a Volunteer Manager. I believe there should be more bloggers in a similar vein sharing their experience. I believe that this is happening slowly. But happening nonetheless!

I do understand that it takes some courage to write publically. What I feel may be a deterrent to those who want to write is fear of being attacked. Yes, sure, when we express a view then the right to talk should be always respected whether or not we agree with that view. But I know of some people who will not express a view for fear of being assailed. This is a shame. I wonder how many of you are nodding your head in agreement.
I am not afraid to be constructively critical of organisations that purport to represent my profession or volunteerism. After all if you choose to be part of a board or committee then critical analysis becomes part of the territory.

As bloggers and commentators though we need to be aware of the language we use.

Steve Moreton in a response to a blog on I Volunteer sums it up beautifully in his response to a particular blog article

“Generally people management does not seek to belittle or undermine anyone. If you do not understand where they are coming from, recognise that all management is a genuine partnership and seek to recognise and understand the motivations of others. Also, our special contribution to the organisation is managing volunteers. If we expect others to respect us for our contribution, we need to respect others”

And this

“The responsibility of being in charge is never easy. There are many complex pressures and different stakeholders to manage. No-one knowingly sets out to do a bad job. Mutual respect is the best way to any approach to authority”

I feel that there are some real jems in the snippets of volunteer management conversation. I do worry about echo chambers (See my blog on this)

One thing I will say. If we want to appeal to other sectors and demonstrate our professionalism then we need to be professional at all times.

David Maister states that professionalism is, "...believing passionately in what you do, never compromising your standards and values, and caring about your clients, your people, and your own career."

Wikipedia states

The main criteria for professional include the following:
1.Expert and specialized knowledge in field which one is practicing professionally
2.Excellent manual/practical and literary skills in relation to profession
3.High quality work in (examples): creations, products, services, presentations, consultancy, primary/other research, administrative, marketing or other work endeavors.
4.A high standard of professional ethics, behavior and work activities while carrying out one's profession (as an employee, self-employed person, career, enterprise, business, company, or partnership/associate/colleague, etc.). The professional owes a higher duty to a client, often a privilege of confidentiality, as well as a duty not to abandon the client just because he or she may not be able to pay or remunerate the professional. Often the professional is required to put the interest of the client ahead of his own interests.
5.Reasonable work morale and motivation. Having interest and desire to do a job well as holding positive attitude towards the profession are important elements in attaining a high level of professionalism.
6.Participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs b : having a particular profession as a permanent career c : engaged in by persons receiving financial return
7.Appropriate treatment of relationships with colleagues. Special respect should be demonstrated to special people and interns. An example must be set to perpetuate the attitude of one's business without doing it harm.
8.A professional is an expert who is master in a specific field.

Whist we engage in the dialogue of promoting our sector as a profession we need to keep an eye on exactly how we engage in dialogue.
Let’s encourage more dialogue. But let’s be professional about how we talk too.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Unique ability to motivate people" - More thoughts on Volunteerism and Volunteer Management

Sue Kobar is the Volunteer Services & Hospice Shop Operations Manager for Nurse Maude New Zealand. She is passionate about volunteerism and believes that volunteers are an integral part of an organisation. Her motto of “don’t ask someone to do something you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself’ has served her well over the past 25 years.

1.In 20 words or less describe/define Volunteer Management

Volunteer management is the unique ability to motivate people to donate their time to be of service to others.

2.What are the 3 main differences between Volunteer Management and Human Resource Management?

Do you mean other than the huge pay discrepancy! Human Resources Management is very structured and HR staff tends to work in a black or white environment. Whereas Managers of volunteers tend to create volunteer opportunities where needed and work in all shades of grey. Both provide staffing (paid or unpaid) assistance, guidance, advice and support across an organisation.

3.Where is the current leadership evident in Volunteer Management?

There are lots of people out there making themselves heard however I believe the strongest evidence of leadership is still in the grass roots organisations where the work is identified and organised mostly, if not entirely, by volunteers. If anything has been confirmed in the volunteer sector since the Christchurch earthquakes it is that people will take action to help and side step the obstacles – that is true dedication and volunteer leadership.

4.Finish this sentence in less than 50 words… An association in volunteer management should…

I’m probably not the right person to answer this...however, since you asked: I believe an association of volunteer management should promote all aspects of volunteerism, engage their membership in dialogue about future directions, and be inclusive rather than exclusive.

5.There have been many debates on the definition of volunteering itself. How would you define volunteering?

Volunteering is the willingness to be of service to others without expectation of remuneration.

6.If you weren’t doing this what other profession would you have been interested in?

I would very much like to be in theatre – and I don’t mean serving the refreshments.

7. Who do you believe has been the most inspiring volunteer in history?

Princess Diana

8.Where do you think social media can take volunteerism and volunteer management?

Social media is fantastic for promoting volunteer opportunities. It also provides a mechanism for feedback which means we will be instantly held accountable for a person’s experience while volunteering with us.

9. Does Government get volunteering? If not why not?

Yes, absolutely there is a place for government in volunteering. They have the resources to pass legislature that will improve all aspects of volunteerism and we should become more comfortable in working alongside government agencies and key government officials.

10.What would you like to achieve personally in the volunteerism world?

My goal has always been towards education & support for leaders of volunteers. Other professions have educational requirements – why not us. What I have seen though is that in the process of developing an educational component it becomes too complicated and people become discouraged because it takes years to achieve.

I would also like to leave a legacy of promoting voluntary service and work hard to ensure that a person’s volunteer experience is so positive that it results in a lifetime of service. That a person know it’s okay not to volunteer all the time however say yes when they can.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Repetitive signals going to Volunteers on Mars

I’ve been writing on Volunteer Management for some 15 months now. I’ve been a Volunteer Manager for 14 years. Hard to believe that after all this time I’ve only discovered on the world wide web some definitions on Volunteer Management and some tips as well!

My enlightenment comes from I’m not too sure how long this piece or page for Volunteer Management has been there

Let me share some of what I have found. My commentary will be in brackets
What is Volunteer Management?

“Volunteer management is, at its core, selecting and supervising volunteers. Yet it is also much more than that. (Phew…I am so glad you added this part) Volunteer management is a key position in the leveraging of an organization’s resources, on par with fundraising/development and human resources. (Kinda, I would have said on par with any management position in your organisation)

Volunteer management is the gateway to the community, providing citizens with opportunities to become more involved in local issues and global causes, and serving as a grassroots source of public relations and marketing. Volunteer management ensures that there is community buy-in of an organization’s mission, thereby strengthening an organization’s credibility in the eyes of the public.

Volunteer management is the guardian of well-being, for volunteers and constituents, and for the organizations involving them. ( I really like this last line but feel it should be explained in more detail)

An eloquent narrative of the responsibilities of volunteer management professionals, the Universal Declaration on the Profession of Leading and Managing Volunteers, can be found on the Volunteer Canada website. (The What?? First I’ve heard of this)”

Ok then – let’s take a look at this Universal Declaration.

When I clicked on the link it informed me that “Page was not found”
So I googled Universal Declaration on the Profession of Leading and Managing Volunteers

So this is something that was developed in 2001 by the International Working Group on the Profession Convened by the Association for Volunteer Administration Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2001

Here it is. (again my commentary will be in brackets)

"Value and Contribution of Directors of Volunteers

*The phrase Directors of Volunteers applies equally to terms like administrators, managers, coordinators and directors of volunteers. For this declaration, the term “Director of Volunteers” was selected to represent these many terms.

Directors of Volunteers promote change, solve problems, and meet human needs by mobilizing and managing volunteers for the greatest possible impact.

Directors of Volunteers aspire to:

act in accordance with high professional standards.

build commitment to a shared vision and mission.

develop and match volunteer talents, motivations, time availability and differing contributions with satisfying opportunities.

guide volunteers to success in actions that are meaningful to both the individual and the cause they serve.

help develop and enhance an organizing framework for volunteering (sounds good so far!)


Directors of Volunteers mobilize and support volunteers to engage in effective action that addresses specified needs.

As Directors of Volunteers we strive to:

be innovative agents for change and progress.
be passionate advocates for volunteering. (and Volunteer Managers??)
welcome diverse contributions and ideas.
develop trusting and positive work environments in which volunteers and other resources are effectively engaged and empowered.
ensure the safety and security of volunteers. (Huh?- isn’t this part of any organisational responsibility?)
develop networks and facilitate partnerships to achieve desired results.
be guided by, and committed to the goals and ideals of the cause/mission towards which we are working and to continually expand our knowledge and skills.
communicate sensitively and accurately the context, rationale, and purpose of the work we are doing.
learn from volunteers and others in order to improve the quality of our work. (would love them to expand on what this means)

Core Beliefs

As Directors of Volunteers, we hold these beliefs and seek to demonstrate them in our actions:

We believe in the potential of people to make a difference.
We believe in volunteering and its value to individuals and society.
We believe that change and progress are possible.
We believe that diversity in views and in voluntary contribution enriches our effort.
We believe that tolerance and trust are fundamental to volunteering.
We believe in the value of individual and collective action.
We believe in the substantial added value represented by the effective planning, resourcing and management of volunteers.

The complexity of the problems the world faces reaffirms the power of volunteering as a way to mobilize people to address those challenges.
In order for volunteering to have the greatest impact and to be as inclusive as possible, it must be well planned, adequately resourced and effectively managed. This is the responsibility of Directors of Volunteers. ( Isn’t this the responsibility of organisations???)

They are most effective when their work is recognized and supported.(They can be and more often than not are effective without support and recognition... it should state that they should be recognisesd and supported!)

Therefore, we call on leaders in:
Non governmental and civil society organizations, to make volunteering integral to achieving their missions and to elevate the role of volunteer directors within the organization

Government at all levels, to invest in the sustainable development of high quality volunteer leadership and to model excellence in the management of volunteers

Business and the private sector, to understand the importance of volunteer management and to assist volunteer-involving organizations in developing this capacity

Funders and donors, to support the commitment of resources to build the capacity of volunteer management

Education, to provide opportunities for leaders of volunteers to continually expand their knowledge and skills

(they should have added: Peak bodies for volunteering, local, state, national and international to support the commitment of resources to build the capacity of volunteer management)

We call upon Directors of Volunteers worldwide to accept this Declaration, to integrate and embody it in our shared work, and to promote and encourage its adoption.

While we recognize that all countries in the world do not approach volunteer development in the same way, this Declaration is intended to encourage all those concerned with the advancement of this profession, to aspire to these statements.

Developed by the International Working Group on the Profession
Convened by the Association for Volunteer Administration Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2001

With representation from: Argentina, Bangladesh, Canada, England, Hungary, Israel, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Scotland, United States
(where was the UK, Australia and others back then?)

So there it is. How many of you in Volunteer Management have even seen this. Whatever has become of this declaration? From what I can see the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA) still adheres to the principals of this declaration.

As for the declaration itself I have some thoughts.

Much of what is said is great. But I bet that many in our sector have never heard of it. Or indeed heard of AVA. But my real concern here is that any advancement or progress in our sector seems to be cyclical. I am basing this thought process on anecdotal evidence. It seems to me that we seem to be making great strides once in every 10 years. And by great strides I mean an ability to have great dreams and aspirations.

If all of this was happening in 2001 then we have not progressed much at all. Indeed I reflected on this in a blog of mine on the examinations of Hot Topics by eminent writers in our sector over the last 10 years. In my blog I stated that we tended to be revisiting our issues cyclically. You know the debating points du jour right now:

Definitions of volunteering
What should our titles be?
Credentialing of volunteering
Creating a strong profession
Why are we ignored by other management?

It makes for great reading on blogs and journals. It makes for more interesting workshops and presentations to Conferences on volunteering. It fills the gaps there.

But can we not see the sign or message coming through?

We are still stuck on the same issues after too many years. Where is the evidence of progress in our sector? I am talking about progress for the sector nationally and internationally. I say this to deflect the “ Oh there is good stuff happening at a local level here” brigade. I get that and praise that. But tell me why I fear I could be reading the same old hot topics in 10 years!

HOT TOPIC 2021 – “Volunteer Managers – Is everyone happy with this title?”

HOT TOPIC 2021 – What is the definition of a volunteer? – discuss for another 10 years!

HOT TOPIC 2021 – Why don’t Executive get me?

HOT TOPIC 2021 – Volunteer Managers Versus Time Management

To those who will say “what are the solutions DJ” I say read all my blog postings please. Part of the solution is in self realization. The ability to see there is a problem here. Followed by the ability to form groups who recognise this and act.

There are so many people new to our profession and you may be one of them.

New to the Hot Topic of the day

New to universal declarations

New to some of the issues of the sector

Let’s hope you grasp some of these issues and take positive action to change our way of being.

Because in 2021 our sector needs to be just that - a sector – one that has gained the confidence to be strong and heard and I certainly don’t want to be blogging on the same old stuff to our sector on earth and other planets who may or may not have come in contact with. Are there volunteers on Mars?! Now that’s a true Universal thought!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A blog snapshot

There is a bit of fun in being a blogger. Indeed, if it were devoid of fun I wouldn’t be doing it. And sometimes it has felt that way , albeit briefly. I am fascinated by who is reading what and where they are coming from. To me, the snapshot of volunteerism and those who manage volunteers can be encapsulated in the little blog that I write.

I have to give thanks to two companies that enable me to look at what is happening with my blog - Statcounter and Blogger

Statcounter is A free yet reliable invisible web tracker, highly configurable hit counter and real-time detailed web stats. StatCounter is a web traffic analysis tool. Access to basic services is free and advanced services can cost between $9 and $119 a month The company is based in Dublin.

I love their work!

Blogger is a blog-publishing service that allows private or multi-user blogs with time-stamped entries. It was created by Pyra Labs, which was bought by Google in 2003. Generally, the blogs are hosted by Google at a subdomain of Up until May 1, 2010 Blogger allowed users to publish blogs on other hosts, via FTP. All such blogs had (or still have) to be moved to Google's own servers, with domains other than allowed via Custom URLs. In July of 2011 a news outlet announced that Google intends to change the name of the service from "Blogger" to "Google Blogs," as part of a larger plan to re-brand or retire all non-Google brands in its portfolio of products and services.

Ok now that the free plug is over I can get back to my point

Thus far I have had close to 20,000 individual readers in 15 months.

Here’s what I can determine about Volunteer Management based on what people are reading on this blog.

We have a huge sense of humour! We like jokes about volunteers and volunteer management or we are seeking out such humour! Volunteer Management Jokes a blog posted in August 2010 is still the most popular blog. Maybe we need some light relief every now and then!

On a serious note though we are very interested in the notion of leadership in Volunteer Management. My blog on Leadership in Volunteer Management posted in 2010 is the second most read blog and consistently gets views every day!

Thank you speeches for volunteers comes a close third. Many people are seeking guidance or appropriate words in their recognition of volunteers.

My next most popular post is in fact by a guest blogger. Coming in at number 4 is a piece on change management by Volunteer Coordinator Wendy Moore from Brisbane Australia. Wendy has obviously identified an area where Volunteer Managers are seeking guidance on!

I’ll just stick to the top 5 for brevity sake but its interesting to note that the 5th most read post is an article of mine titled “What’s holding us back”

I think it’s significant that out of just under 220 postings on this blog that this one hits the top five. It tells me that people are interested. It tells me that Volunteer Managers do care about the following:

“Do we have an embedded subliminal fear that our jobs are not “real” because we manage a movement that is unpaid – and thus devalued? Would a psychological analysis reveal some real fears on job security, career authenticity and a predisposition to not rock the boat at any cost?
Do we keep our heads down so we aren’t really noticed and thus keep our positions? Do we therefore have problem putting up boundaries. Do too many of us take on too much, with too little resources? We try to do it all, and then wonder why we aren't provided with the resources, pay, etc.
We won't be until we demand it by saying "No", I cannot do this without additional resources.Our jobs create and add enormous value to our societies. Let us stop being afraid to acknowledge that. Let us cease being fearful of validating ourselves and our profession.”

You Go you people reading this blog post!!!

My biggest audience comes from the United States with about 38% of viewers coming from there followed by Australia, Canada UK and then……Russia!
And of course I am happy to speak on Volunteer Management in any of those beautiful countries!!! LOL
And finally to end this blog, What are the key words that people enter on search engines that result in them finding my blog? This is for the last few days!

thank you speech for volunteers 240

volunteer jokes 163

volunteer thank you speech 96

thank you speech to volunteers 87

dj cronin 67

thank you speeches to volunteers 57

leadership 39

good news 38

volunteer thank you speeches 35

I hope you have enjoyed reading some of these stats!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

40,000 Thanks

This blog recently passed 40,000 page views.

I have to say I am humbled by this figure. After all this blog is just the musing of a Volunteer Manager on matters pertaining to our volunteerism sector. And its just been going for 15 months.

So I’ve nothing to gain or lose from the amount of visitors. If I had reached 400 views after the same amount of time I’d probably be posting this blog in a similar vein.

I do this blogging for a number of reasons but have to admit that I do it primarily because I enjoy writing. My passion for Volunteer Management therefore is a direct beneficiary of this enjoyment!

I continue to remain blown away that 18,300 individual people around the globe have read some of my blogs!

Its takes a lot for people to respond to postings. I realise this now. So I salute those who respond to posts. But I also salute those of you who read my musings on Volunteer Management and Volunteerism.

Thanks for being part of my journey.


A Tasty Dish in Volunteer Management Part 1

The Tasty Volunteer Manager: Volunteer Management Master Chef – Part One

Yep it’s been done the death in many areas but here I will attempt to cook my very own successful and effective Volunteer Management dish using ingredients I have used over the years. It’s based on personal experience. You may not like the taste and you may have different ingredients. Fair enough – After all we choose the cookbooks or chefs we feel work best for us. This has worked for me. Enjoy!

Take one person



Some of you may and will baulk at this already. Some will frown on this ingredient immediately. Many of our sector will resist the word “nice” because of perceived negative connotations in regards to volunteering. I get that. Nothing worse than an organisation thinking volunteers are “nice but not necessary” for example. And how many of you when asked your occupation get the delayed response of “that’s nice”. It sounds a little condescending but maybe it’s not such a bad thing in today’s world.

Someone said once that nice guys finish last. Perhaps that’s why there are so few men in Volunteer Management! I say that with a wink a nudge. After all to counter this Addison Walker said “It's not true that nice guys finish last. Nice guys are winners before the game even starts.”

In this day and age is niceness an attribute that is valued at the workplace? It should be in Volunteer Management.

“Oh what do you mean by nice” people will say. Of course.

I have to spell it out because some people will say I can be a great professional…but I don’t have to be nice.

Not in our profession I say.

Nice is made up of a few ingredients. This is handy for our MasterChef – having one ingredient made up of many

Nice consists of :

There you have it. My definition of Nice. My first ingredient. If it’s not in our dish then I believe the dish will end up with a foul taste! And I have heard of this taste anecdotally!

Our next ingredient will be advanced communication skills

Come back here for the next blog to see how that tastes!

Here’s a preview

“Advanced can be a word loosely used these days. However the communication skills of a Volunteer Manager need to be highly developed in my opinion in order to deal with a wide range of stakeholders critical to the success of any effective Volunteer program. It’s amazing the amount of people we need to be dealing and communicating with effectively – often far more than any other management profession. If we don’t include this ingredient – our dish is in serious trouble!”

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It makes perfect senses yes? How you see Volunteer Management is how you see Volunteers?

Do you give credence to this statement?

Sue Hine in a response to one of my blogs lately stated “Why do so many of us undervalue the work we do, and thereby the work of volunteers??”

Do you make that connection? Can it be possible if we don’t value our own roles that we don’t value the role of volunteers?

Who can this question pertain to?

Volunteer Managers?

Surely not, Surely the one and only truism in our sector is the value we place on volunteers? If this is not the case then our management sector has no hope. No future. True?


Those that value volunteers value Volunteer Management right? Makes sense yes? Take out the value in one and you erase the value in the other. Right?
Peak bodies on volunteering?

They celebrate volunteerism thus they celebrate effective Volunteer Management right? Makes sense to me. They do this by celebrating IVMD, by having Volunteer Management people on their boards, by taking an active interest in our sector by consultation, by inviting Volunteer Managers on their networks, by inviting them to write on their websites and journals, by having them involved in their national and international conferences and by engaging with Volunteer Managers on their blogs and social media.
All of this is happening yes? No?

I have to pose this question to the “person from peak body” who may be reading? Is this happening? Yes? No? I mean…you do value volunteers don’t you?

Associations on Volunteer Management?

What are you doing here on this list? Of course you value volunteers. Its evident from your support of Volunteer Management. I mean..That’s what you do isn’t it? Support Volunteer

advocacy..Education..Networking…politics etc. etc. etc. And you are holding peak bodies for volunteering and organisations and government to account aren’t you? For example those who exalt volunteerism are exalting volunteer management as well and you are on top of that to make sure this is so yes?

So there. It’s really all ok I am sure. We all value volunteers don’t we? And by extension…Volunteer Management?

As they say in Australia

No worries.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fantastic insights into Volunteer Management

I’ve had some fantastic replies to my 10 questions on Volunteer Management. All are published here and I’ve had quite a few comments to my email as well that are unpublished as requested. Whatever one may say about the questions themselves there does seem to be a chord that is being struck! And I thank everyone who has responded thus far!

I talk about a narrative in Volunteer Management. What do I mean?

Wikipedia says – “For general purposes in semiotics and literary theory, a "narrative" is a story or part of a story. It may be spoken, written or imagined, and it will have one or more points of view representing some or all of the participants or observers. In stories told orally, there is a person telling the story, a narrator whom the audience can see and/or hear, who adds layers of meaning to the text non-verbally. The narrator also has the opportunity to monitor the audience's response to the story and modify the manner of the telling to clarify content or enhance listener interest. This is distinguishable from the written form in which the author must gauge the readers' likely reactions when they are decoding the text and make a final choice of words in the hope of achieving the desired response.

Whatever the form, the content may concern real-world people and events; this is termed "personal experience narrative".

Someone asked me today if there was a deadline to submitting responses?

No. There is no deadline. There will never be a deadline to the exploration on our sector!

Please remember that you can answer anonymously!

And please remember that I am just a Volunteer Manager asking questions on Volunteer Management!

Let’s keep the discussion going on

Friday, August 12, 2011

10 more insights

Wendy Moore is a Volunteer Coordinator in Brisbane, Australia. She has a background in many fields including IT, administration, sales and marketing.

1.In 20 words or less describe/define Volunteer Management

Volunteer Management involves the creative, development of programs which utilize the skills of volunteers to meet a community need.

2.What are the 3 main differences between Volunteer Management and Human Resource Management?

Managing volunteers is different from managing paid staff because their motivation is different. Volunteer Managers need to have
•Flexibility to include into programs, volunteers with differing levels of commitment.
•Adaptability to change within a dynamic and unpredictable environment.
•Emotional energy to support and encourage volunteers.

3.Where is the current leadership evident in Volunteer Management?

There are leaders of Volunteer Management around the globe who share their knowledge and insights on websites, blogs and forums. There are others who have yet to find their voice. Perhaps fear is holding them back; fear of “the tall poppy syndrome”, fear of change or fear of criticism.

4.Finish this sentence in less than 50 words… An association in Volunteer Management should…
advocate for volunteer management by promoting, educating and lobbying governments, organisations and communities. They should seek out opportunities to promote volunteer management and forge relationships with organisations which could build and support volunteer management. They need to be fiscally responsible in achieving these objectives.

5.There have been many debates on the definition of volunteering itself. How would you define volunteering?

Volunteering is an individual’s choice to freely give their time and skills, without expectation of reward, to meet a community need.

6.If you weren’t doing this what other profession would you have been interested in?

Perhaps something creative like Marketing, Promotions, Visual Merchandising or Event Management.

7.Who do you believe has been the most inspiring volunteer in history?

Fred Hollows:- for seeing a need and setting up a program to train others to continue with his work to bring sight to people, in poor communities, who would otherwise remain blind.

8.Where do you think social media can take volunteerism and Volunteer Management?

“… boldly go where no one has gone before.”
Social media can take volunteerism and Volunteer Management to anywhere around the globe where there is internet connection. It provides a communication pathway which is unprecedented. Social media is only the conduit providing the communication. The message we wish to communicate is up to us.

9.Does Government get volunteering? If not why not?

No. While governments recognise volunteer contribution, it is important for governments to go beyond that, by understanding that volunteering doesn’t just happen. Volunteering requires good management and coordination of resources so that volunteers are utilized appropriately.

10.What would you like to achieve personally in the volunteerism world?

I would like to educate people about the role that volunteer management plays in valuing, supporting, coordinating and appreciating the contribution of volunteers.

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