Thursday, March 31, 2011

Will Volunter Management embrace "No Recognition Day?"

Here’s an article from Volunteerism Gazette that I thought you would find fascinating

Will Volunter Management embrace "No Recognition Day?"

By Don J Volau

The United Nations has just declared April 1st “No Recognition for Profession Day”
A spokesperson for the UN, Noah Valu explained the day

“Since the early days of the United Nations system, the UN has established a set of Days and Weeks to help focus the world on the issues in which the UN has an interest and commitment. The UN has called on Member States and other organizations to mark these days in ways which reflect their priorities.

However “No Recognition Day” aims to serve the causes that have been left behind.

“So for example I think that this day will bring comfort to many groups around the world such as community workers, carers and Volunteer managers."

When urged to explain further by your befuddled correspondent Noah Valu explained

‘There is an inequality in this world. While we acknowledge that the doctors in the world save lives and the researchers create conditions to improve lives and the business people create jobs and the smart just darn helps us all…we have forgotten the people who really matter… the volunteers who change our world each day..The carers who care…the social workers and counselors and community workers who maintain and build the fabric of society.
The world is topsy turvey now but it will change. The leaders of people in social justice and volunteering will one day be the professions that many will aspire to and compete for.
“No Recognition Day” though sounding negative will garner attention for our cause and will be successful one day and thus disappear.”

Don J Volau
April 1st

Sunday, March 20, 2011

20,000 thank yous !

I just thought I'd do a quick post to mark the occasion of this blog getting more that 20,000 page hits today. This blog celebrates its first birthday in a couple of days. To reach this milestone now before that is amazing. Thanks for reading!

SEX and Volunteer Management

Martin J Cowling continues to traverse the world bringing the message of advanced volunteer management to the Masses. I find it fascinating to see what his sessions bring up in various quarters. Martin recently presented at the 20th Annual Texas Volunteer management Conference. Martin hosted a one day "Advanced Workshop" before the conference itself and as his blog (the link is on this site) states these were the issues that emerged:

•how hungry people were for knowledge, training and tips
•the low status of volunteer management and managers in the sector
•the aging volunteer force
•rules and regulations regarding volunteering
•the new technologies and medias
•how few men are in the sector

All very interesting but I have to highlight some issues here and they are these:

“The low status of volunteer management and managers in the sector” and “how few men are in the sector”

Now, before I continue let me draw your attention to something Sue Hines, who blogs on volunteer management, said in a recent blog of hers (the link is on this site also)

“Women’s status, and their rights. Hmmm…. We’ve been a long time on this one. And we’ve been pushing for recognition and status for Management of Volunteers since around the time of the 1970s global wave of feminism. And when I go to meetings and conferences I can see one of the reasons why: the majority of people employed in this occupation are women. Which is no bad thing. Women’s multi-tasking skills, relationship-building, eye for detail as well as the big picture are great assets in managing volunteers.”

I could argue with you Sue here on how men can have these attributes as well but I don’t plan to start a gender war on Volunteer Management.

Rather I am interested in exploring the links between “The low status of volunteer management and managers in the sector” and “how few men are in the sector”

Is there a link here?

Lets have a look at what Reportageonline said in 2010

“Anne Kennelly, Women’s Officer for the Public Service Association, says: “It wasn’t until the late sixties that women received equal pay for equal work. There were a lot of jobs that were considered women’s jobs or men’s jobs, and it was legal for women to be paid less than men doing the same work. [Many] jobs are still considered to be women’s jobs and the skills aren’t as highly valued… that tends to be the caring professions.
“If you’re going to blame anything, it’s the structure of how our workforce has risen over the years. There are structural inequities that need to be fixed.”

Tamara Plakalo, social trends analyst and former CEO of online think tank Open Forum, says: “Does it surprise you that most women work in ‘soft’, supporting roles, and are paid less than those who go out to hunt and are soldiers of the perpetual profit-chasing war?”

“Why? Because their view of the world is not supportive of perpetual wars, and the world (and the corporation) is a reflection of a system built around male evolutionary impulses.”

She says these impulses have structured the entire way our workplace functions, and occupational and industrial segregation are key factors of the pay gap between men and women. NATSEM’s report shows that men tend to work in environments that are 61 per cent male, while women’s work environments are 44 per cent male. The grouping of the genders in certain professions and industries is having the effect of dividing skills and labour along gender lines, further entrenching the pay gap.

It has been repeatedly demonstrated that occupations associated with women or with stereotypically “female” skills and qualities (most often the caring, teaching, and communications fields) are seen to be less important and deserving of lower pay and respect than traditionally “masculine” roles. As more women enter a profession, there is a tendency to value and remunerate them less for their work.

Women’s choices are often held up as examples for why they are not earning as much as men. Female biology and fertility has been used to keep women in almost a separate working class from men. The reasons for this are hundredfold, according to the report: the undervaluation of women’s skills; women typically work fewer paid hours per week and fewer weeks per year than men; their employment is likely to be discontinuous, which is linked to shorter job tenure and therefore lower pay. The deterioration of human capital while women are out of the workforce can result in lower wages or promotions.”

Dare I suggest that Volunteer Management can take a lead in challenging this imbalance? Can we as a sector transcend these gender roles? It’s a big call and something we have not really looked at or investigated within the volunteerism sector.

Can we be a sector that unifies the sexes in demonstrating support for the importance of our roles?

Volunteer management is undervalued. And as a male Volunteer Manager I simply find the following to be disgraceful – “It has been repeatedly demonstrated that occupations associated with women or with stereotypically “female” skills and qualities (most often the caring, teaching, and communications fields) are seen to be less important and deserving of lower pay and respect than traditionally “masculine” roles.”

As a sector we need to go beyond the stereotypes. Yes, we need more men in Volunteer Management just as non profit and corporate boards need more women in leadership roles.

True, it is not unequal opportunity that is keeping men from volunteer management roles. But perhaps the perception that there is no career path, no security and no financial incentive.

Why can’t those exist and why can’t they be realistic targets and goals for both sexes. musings here might get a backlash from traditionalist or ultra feminist viewpoints. So be it.

Just remember though I am talking about volunteer management and we need to explore why guys are just not into it.

Adopt the view of “why would we need you in the first place” and we get nowhere.

Adopt the view of “we are worth more”

It’s a conversation that we need to have. It’s a conversation that our associations for volunteer management need to engage in. Where is the leadership on these challenging issues internationally?

Elephants are beautiful creatures. Let’s not ignore them when they appear in our rooms.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A belief , a theory and an action in Volunteer Management


Robert Oxton Bolton once said that “A belief is not merely an idea that the mind possesses. It is an idea that possesses the mind.” You know how when some quotes just bounce off you without effect and some deeply resonate within your very being? The latter are rare occurrences but seem to be becoming more active in my life. Bolton’s quote truly resonates with me.

Here are my beliefs:

Volunteerism is an inspirational and powerful global movement

Leaders of volunteers have powerful and inspirational roles in society

As a sector we do not sell this message or worse – we do not believe it to be true.


My belief has led me to develop a theory and it is this:

The level of support and recognition given to volunteer management is directly proportional to the level of support and recognition given to volunteers.

This can apply on many levels – Organisations, Community, Government and can even be applied to the volunteerism sector itself. To be sure, having to include the latter is indicative of where volunteer management sits as well as the current relationship between key players within volunteerism – clearly we should all be singing from the same page but we are not!

I believe that this theory has the power to challenge. I have seen volunteering itself receive so much lip service over the years in so many quarters.

“Volunteers are so important to us”

“We would not survive without volunteers”

“Where would we be without you”

And we hear these sentiments every now and then especially at times like a national week of volunteering or in the aftermath of an event that involved spontaneous volunteering on a grand scale or as part of a government initiative to increase volunteering dramatically.

My theory simply says – if you are serious about volunteering – you are serious about volunteer management and serious about supporting both. Because they are extensively linked.


"Leadership is not magnetic personality--that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not 'making friends and influencing people'--that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations." So said Peter F Drucker.

As an individual Volunteer manager this is what I do in relation to the sector I work within:

• Challenge the status quo
• Engage in critical thinking
• Challenge inertia and complacency
• Encourage debate and dialogue
• Encourage the emergence of leadership

I describe all of the above to demonstrate what I do as an individual. What I do as a volunteer manager is immensely rewarding. I love my job.
I believe I have had my successes.I hope to have more!

But I also believe that our sector is in dire need of a thought process that says “how do we go from success to significance”? I did a recent blog on the amazing speaker John Wood who spoke on such matters.

I am hoping that people who are successful in their roles of volunteer manager can step forward and be leaders in our sector.

Because we need leadership.

Your beliefs and theory’s are what we need at this time.

We need your actions.

Don’t be afraid to step up.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Stories of Hope

When world news is populated with grimness one must seek stories of hope. Volunteerism is one such story…people reaching out, lending a hand, an ear, a shoulder to cry on in crisis. Wherever there are tears…there are volunteers.

School Volunteering: Stop me before I volunteer again! ! !

Being passionate about volunteerism in general as well as volunteer management I am constantly looking for interesting views and analysis on the movement or sector or field or whatever we like to call it. School volunteering is now a little more interesting to me as my own life path enters into the school realm!

So you can imagine why an article that begins with the words "Stop me before I volunteer again..." So reads a magnet on my fridge that sits exactly at my eye level.” Grabs my attention"!

School volunteering.

Now there’s a loaded topic for many future blogs. I would love to hear of your experiences in school volunteering. I feel there is not enough written on the topic? Or if I am missing some research or literature on the topic please alert me.

It also leads me to ask – when you volunteer …are you looking at the situation with your volunteer management hat on???

Do we have increased expectations when we volunteer ourselves????

By the way...the article I mention is linked through the heading of this blog. Well worth a read and the responses are too.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Time to call a spade a spade in Volunteer Management

Because volunteering is nice and lovely and “free” Volunteer Management has issues in gaining a foothold on professions that are taken seriously.
We are not getting anywhere because of our current thinking in volunteer management. Here are the 5 main reasons and behaviors that I believe keep us down.

1.Flat Earthers.

Old flat earth ways of thinking – not ready to embrace change. I’m talking here in terms of definitions of volunteering and how we manage volunteer programs.

2.Low expectations

“I work in a not for profit – therefore I half expect poor. Poor resources poor pay poor future etc.” Most volunteering operates in a not for profit sector. Note how I say “most” . NFP should not equate with NPE – Not Paying Enough. Savy NFPs pay top dollar for expertise whether it be CEOs, Fundraising directors, Marketing specialists etc. Savy NFPs incorporate savvy corporate thought and models to drive their business to improve their own bottom line which is providing a better service for their clientele. I ask you this. Why should the people who rely of service expect anything less?

3.Comfort of the old ways.

The same old protects itself. If there is a radical shift in thinking then there should be change. Change in how we see ourselves. Change in who we look to and follow as leaders. Change in how we do our jobs. Change in how we talk. Change in how we articulate our needs and desires. Change in our belief systems and definitions. Change in the type of training we desire and need. Change in how that is delivered. I believe there are too many too comfortable in our sector to embrace change. After all if we have existed doing what we do quite comfortably for the last 20 years why should we change? We can not underestimate the threat change poses to some.

4.Is it real Management?

“If I wasn’t managing this – then I simply would not be managing anything else”. Let’s face some reality. If Volunteer Managers decided to get out of their roles and do something else..How much management opportunities would lie open for us in different fields? I would like to think many but in reality would we be employed?.Do organisations place an importance factor on the role that matches other senior management roles?? Its easy to say "They should" But do they? Are we producing the people that sit right up there with other management and leadership roles?

5.The tall poppy Syndrome.

Do we get suspicions when we see others get successful? Successful in terms of their ability to establish themselves as a voice in the field, securing for themselves fairly paid and resourced volunteer programs and not being afraid to talk out to a wider audience then our own little echo chambers. I’ve seen too many good people exit our sector. Success, of course, need not be about having a voice in the field. There are sucessful volunteer managers in organisations doing great stuff. I see too many people who could say a lot and contribute a lot but who think it’s not worth the hassle of being labeled this or that.Which is a shame. We must embrace success. We must hear the leadership and managament tales of those who are sucessful.

The other problem is that we are still such a small sector. Its too easy to have a monopoly on leadership. It’s a little harder to take a look at our current leadership and challenge the status quo. But……

I am happy to continue questioning


I believe we can be a lot more

And I will continue making noise until we are.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

One day soon in Volunteer Management

One day Volunteer Management will be a sought after role.

One day most organisations will have a full time Volunteer manager. One day all corporates will have volunteer managers facilitating employee volunteering programs not just as part of their social responsibility but because it will be the norm to do so.

One day the leaders in volunteerism will be mostly drawn from volunteer management profession because they are the people at the coal face.

One day the management of volunteers will not be given to people who have another role in that organisation – one day it will be realised that “looking after the vollies” is not a simple process.

One day Government will realise that they cannot talk about increasing volunteering without funding greater volunteer management resources.

One day Government will consult with the volunteer management sector when we become relevant.

One day we will make ourselves so.

One day there will be an educational pathway into volunteer management.

One day Volunteer management will be a career option for people and will have a stand at career expos.

One day peak bodies for volunteering will strengthen their mission and value by developing crucial and close links with volunteer managers.

One day there will be a national conference on volunteer management and an international one too.

One day corporates will see the value in supporting scholarships and awards in Volunteer Management.

One day a leadership narrative will emerge in our profession. One day people will engage in dialogue in our future en masse and not the same “old few”

One day, those who hold us back will let go for various reasons.

One day we will gather the courage and conviction to grow. change and emerge as the amazing profession of difference makers.

One day we will be the leaders and an example to other professions in leadership and management.

We already do so.

We already make that difference.

We already lead and inspire.

One day we will realise and recognise this.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A show to check out - and get back to me on

I received an email from ABC America today and although this show is currently aimed at an American audience I am happy to share info here as according to my stats most readers hail from the US.

I do not endorse this show however as I have never seen it and have asked for copies to be emailed to me. More comment then…but in the meantime…check it out for yourself on US TV

“My name is Christina Megerian, from ABC Entertainment Marketing. I’m writing to share with you, your friends and colleagues exciting news about a new uplifting series airing on ABC called Secret Millionaire.

Premiering Sunday, March 6th at 8|7c on ABC, Secret Millionaire will chronicle highly-successful millionaires who are given the opportunity to put aside their relative luxury to experience the day-to-day struggles of people who are comparatively underprivileged. Along the way of their journey, the millionaires learn it is not about just giving money, but also giving their energy, their attention, and their time – generous qualities that the underprivileged they meet in each episode already have in abundance. The message of the show is a valuable life lesson we can never revisit enough, and one that is just as relevant to each of us, no matter how much or how little money we have.

We at ABC are incredibly proud of this compelling new series, and hope that as the editor of a blog that is closely aligned with its powerful message, you’ll want to share it with your readers as well.

Christina Megerian

ABC Entertainment Marketing
2300 Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA 91506

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

“Bold Goals attract Bold People”

“Bold Goals attract Bold People”

I was honoured to be invited by Volunteering Queensland (VQ) to attend a presentation yesterday by John Wood , best-selling author of Leaving Microsoft to Change the World and Founder and Executive Chair of Room to Read, the fastest growing non-profit in history.

At age 35, John Wood left an international executive career track at Microsoft out of deep concern that nearly one billion people lack basic literacy and that over 200 million children in the developing world are not enrolled at school.

Room to Read has sponsored the opening of 1129 schools and established 10 000 multi-lingual libraries across the developing world. The event was organised by Volunteering Qld's Business Roundtable and Macquarie.

Opening the event VQs CEO Jelenko Dragisic spoke of the Business Roundtable as an opportunity for NFPs and Corporates to interact and work more efficiently together. I was very interested to hear of this roundtable. Here is a summary from VQs website:

“By bringing together a group of influential corporate and business players, we create an organic nucleus of thinkers and collaborators interested in creating innovative pathways to community involvement.
The Business Roundtable facilitates the emergence of corporate leaders who are willing and able to enter into partnerships based on passion and shared values. Corporate patrons can use their networks, influence and expertise to benefit community organisations – a valuable voluntary role.”

I found John Wood to be an inspirational speaker with an extraordinary story to tell. With the help of many volunteers around the globe his organization has had a huge impact on the lives of Millions.

His story of leadership also inspired me – “Our world is in need of leadership – our leadership!”

I learnt that Room to Read has opened 1, 442 schools

John asked “How do you go from success to significance?”

I learnt that Room to Read has opened 11,000 libraries.

John stated that “Bold goals attract bold people”

I learnt that because of this organisation, its leaders, volunteers and staff that 5 million kids now have access to libraries and schools!

There are good news stories in the world. We don’t hear enough about them.

We work in a sector where inspiring stories happen every day. We need to hear more of them and we need to ensure we are attracting more dynamic and inspiring leaders.

Room to read is linked by clicking on the title of this article.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

AAVA Response to Blog "Five emails and Volunteer Management Action"

Greetings DJ, on behalf of the AAVA board I would like to thank you for your email and for the pertinent questions that you raised.

The Board held its annual planning meeting this last weekend and the questions you raised informed an important part of our discussion.

The AAVA board acknowledges that the last 12 months have brought considerable challenges which have impacted on our capacity to meet the expectations of our members. We, as both board members and members of AAVA ourselves, have struggled with our understanding of the role that AAVA should fulfill and which you have articulated in your questions, especially around the role of advocacy.

To address this, the board worked with an external facilitator at our planning meeting revisiting and reconfirming the purpose of AAVA as an “organization to enhance and develop the role of individuals working in the field of volunteer management”. We then established an action plan for the coming year which will ensure that:

·we provide a quality service to our members

·the organization has robust and clear governance processes

·we communicate effectively with members

·we utilize conferences, forums and other similar events to promote the organization and the role and place of managers of volunteers

We have recognised that to be able to provide a quality service to our members, we need to first strengthen our internal processes and lay a strong foundation from which we can grow and develop. We have attached a condensed version of our action plan for your information, which may also be of interest to readers of your blog

As you are aware the AAVA Board is made up of volunteers and we would welcome yourself and other interested people to join us so that we can increase our capacity and expand the range of services that we provide to our members and the contribution we are able to make to the Volunteer Management sector

Again, thank you for sharing your concerns with us,

Leticia Vargas



Back blogging

Hello there.

I’ve had some nice time off. Went nowhere. Just had some “switch off” time. Those of you in busy Volunteer management and coordination roles know where I am coming from. A lot of exciting things have been happening in the volunteer Management world in the last few weeks and I plan on blogging on some upcoming events and stories.

This blog will celebrate its first birthday on March 22. Then I will talk about how amazed I am at what has happened in the last year.

But I would, in the meantime like to mention some amazing facts about the month of February just gone.

February 2011 recorded the most visits to this site ever. In total this blog had 1,834 individual visitors for the month!

Hope your year is inspiring and dynamic already!

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