Sunday, February 6, 2011

Week that was in Volunteer Management

I’m looking at doing a Sunday blog that casts an eye on matters of volunteer management during the week. The week that was, as it were, in volunteer management. Of course this will be a view from my eyes only, what I see or hear during the week. And indeed there may be those quiet weeks where there is no chatter and events.

Words and action

This week I stumbled across another blogger who posed the question” What if Words speak louder than Action?”

“I tend to live with the notion that the pen is mightier than the sword. Why else would military dictatorships control speech? They know that ideas can be infectious and lead people to take action.

In that regard, you could say that talk and actions are actually partners - two sides of the same coin. First people arrive at a consensus and then they take action based upon their communicated objectives.”

Thanks Crashcromwell. Well put.

Positive action

Claire Teal one of the project co-leaders of the Managers of Volunteers project in New Zealand is joining Volunteering New Zealand as a community intern for six months which will help to drive the project forward. The vision of this group is "Managers/Leaders of Volunteers are valued, well-resourced, and have professional development opportunities and career paths".

Their objectives are:
•To have a comprehensive catalogue of existing research
•To increase relevant research
•To have a qualification pathway for Managers of Volunteers
•To have a published database of relevant professional development opportunities
•To encourage professional association membership
•To have regular, positive coverage in relevant media
•To increase the number and range of supporters of their vision
•To have sustainable funding for this Project
The groups plan is that over the next 6 months of the Internship, they will make sure more people all across New Zealand hear about both the Project and the vital role of Managers and Leaders of Volunteers in their communities.


I think this is such a positive development. A query I have though is whether or not some of this work overlaps the key duties of a professional association. Now the Australasian Association of Volunteer Administrators is the “Professional association” for Volunteer managers is Australia and New Zealand. Is the “Managers of Volunteers project in New Zealand” meeting something that is unmet? Furthermore I would only be encouraging professional association membership if such a body were strong and demonstrating such strength through some of the objectives that this group has embraced. I once wrongly thought that high numbers alone would mean stronger associations. Will it be counterproductive encouraging people to join something just to have them to then say “is that it” and leave? And before you jump down my throat because I am not accentuating the positive please note I say such things as cautionary tales. We all desire strong Professional Associations and development and progress.

Hot Topic

Speaking of such matters, Susan J Ellis’ Hot Topic on Energize for the month of January is a timely one. Titled ‘Real Professions have Strong associations” Susan proposes that “one of the major weaknesses of our field is the sorry state of too many of our professional associations, whether national, regional, or local.”

Some interesting replies have already been posted including one from yours truly. “Associations of volunteer management should respond. Effective associations should already be aware that this article is out there. Because effective associations are keeping their eye on the ball in regards to any issues that are being discussed about volunteer management and Volunteering for that matter. Right now there should be emails flying amongst board members of professional associations. “We need to articulate a responses to this Hot topic people” and there is much more. Please check out the Topic for yourself and respond.

Strong association

Out of Susan’s Hot Topic comes some good news. Before this article appeared I was not aware of the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration. Now here in my view is an association that can act as an example to other associations around the globe. Great website, great professional development and fantastic professional looking profile. Google them.

I only found out about them because their President responded to the Energize Hot Topic. Jay Haapala informed us that 800 members responded to their annual survey and that “advocacy for the field of volunteerism” was the most important reason they choose to be a member of MAVA. He went on to say “Deeper questions about what “advocacy” means to them reveal that they’re looking for the field of volunteer management to become more professionalized as well as assistance advocating for their programs within their organizations.”


And speaking of Susan J Ellis I see that she is appearing in New Zealand in May for the national conference on volunteering and the Retreat for Advanced Volunteer Management. This week details of the New Zealand Retreat were released.

The annual retreat was held for the first time in Canberra during March 2005 with attendees from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States. This was followed by Retreats in Brisbane (2006), Hobart (2007), Gold Coast (2009) and Adelaide (2010). The concept of the Retreat is to:
•Support the emerging profession of volunteer manager
•Encourage and strengthen volunteer managers at an "advanced" stage in their professional development
•Aid volunteer managers to stay in the profession
•Provide an advanced level training opportunity
•Help volunteer managers to consider whom they can foster development of their profession

I’ve attended every Retreat to date and honestly I don’t believe I would be where I was today professionally without it.

According to its brochure for this year “The 2011 Retreat will be run back-to-back with the Volunteering New Zealand national volunteering conference, which has a theme of “Raising the Bar”. At the 2011 Australasian Retreat for Advanced Volunteer Management, we plan to pick up where the conference finishes - and really explore what raising the bar means for advanced level practitioners.”

Service Jam Whitepaper released this week

On 10-12, 2010 over 15,000 individuals from 119 countries registered to
participate in what was called "Service Jam", which brought together a global mix of perspectives to discuss, debate and discover the possibilities of new solutions to long-standing societal challenges.

Leaders from many sectors united to drive conversations on not only what is
happening today, but also how we might improve service tomorrow. IBM, in
collaboration with key partners, has published a white paper to summarize key findings and highlight creative ideas generated by Service Jam .

You can find the white paper here

I was delighted to see two colleagues who are great advocates of professional development in our sector from Brisbane with their quotes included in the Whitepaper. Well done. I plan to do a larger blog in the near future on my views on the white paper.

My favorite quotes of the week

“I had the right to remain silent... but I didn't have the ability.” - Ron White

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends– Martin Luther King

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