Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Now that sounds more like it for Volunteer Management!

Spotted something exciting happening in the U.S.

Erin Barnhart is an internationally recognized expert in domestic and international service and volunteer engagement. She has been quoted by such media sources as CNN.com, 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.

Erin has put together a "Volunteerism and Volunteer Management" course for Portland State University. She will be joined by Jayne Cravens and Kathleen Joy of Oregon Volunteers to present a series of intensive classes focused on those who work with volunteers in any capacity - or those that want to.

Jayne is an internationally-recognized professional with more than 20 years of experience regarding communications, volunteer involvement/community engagement, and capacity-building on a variety of topics for nonprofit organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs)/civil society, government-based community programs, and corporate philanthropy programs.

You can find a link to her fantastioc blog on this site.

According to Jayne’s blog “This comprehensive course will cover topics ranging from core competencies and emerging trends and tools for building and sustaining a successful volunteer program, to understanding the broad-reaching impacts of volunteer service and effective volunteer management, to engaging individuals in innovative and accessible ways to serve in their local neighborhoods, via their computers and smartphones, and in communities across the globe.

Unlike a lot of other volunteer management courses, this course will fully integrate online tools into all discussions (not just a module at the end), and will discuss the international volunteering scene.”

Now that sounds like a course for today’s Volunteer Management professional!

And delivered by a dynamic team! I can’t wait to hear more about the course and how it’s received! Let’s keep an eye on developments!

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Where there is a vacuum of leadership there is an opportunity for dissenting voice. You see this quite often in politics. You don’t expect this in Volunteer Management.

Volunteer Management is not political nor does it conjure up ideas of dissent or disagreement. After all, the definitions and theories behind volunteerism are seen to be well and adequately defined by those who believe they have the moral right to say what is and what isn’t in the field of volunteerism.

Pity that!

In the Volunteer Management sector, things just seem to roll on. A few localized and encouraging waves towards the true advancement and professionalization of the sector wiped out by the tsunami of indifference by a sector that struggles to find its political voice and fundamental raison d’ĂȘtre.

To those who are perplexed by my talk of politics, dissent and such matters then you have obviously not been a follower of this blog and the message I seek to propagate.

But seeds of hope have been set.

More blogs have been born since I started blogging.

More voices are finding confidence.

There is more challenge to the status quo. Although it may look small to you right now, remember it is enormous compared to what came before – little or nothing!

There is such a long way to go.

Over 35,000 pages on this blog have been read in just a short 15 months.

The top 10 read posts suggest we seek a sense of humour as well as leadership in Volunteer Management. On top of that we really desire more knowledge on managing change and want to articulate great speeches that recognise volunteers! We also are curious on what is holding us back as a sector and the perception of volunteering and our role in maintaining or changing that.

200 posts.

Thanks for reading and have a say!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Last Wednesday night during a big football game here in Oz betwwen Queensland and New South Wales, the Queensland based beer company XXXX ran a great ad about the people who put their hands up to help during the flood crisis in Queensland. I think its a powerful ad. I would have loved to hear the "volunteer" word but people will get the drift. Have a look by clicking on the title of this post

Volunteers are awe inspiring!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why volunteer management requires specific skills

I came across some great writing on Volunteer management today thanks to a twitter prompt from Rob Jackson from Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd

Skills - Third Sector is an organisation based in the UK that helps to make sure that charities and social enterprises have the right people with the right skills to make a difference to people and their communities.
They believe that a thriving voluntary sector is crucial to building stronger communities and delivering good quality services.

Here’s some of what they say about Volunteer management in a position statement released on May 31st this year

“Skills – Third Sector champions the skills of volunteer management. From our research and experience we know that the nature of volunteering means that people who manage volunteers require specialist skills – skills that are distinct from those needed to manage paid staff. By skills we mean the knowledge, understanding and experience that someone needs to do their job well.”

I like this language on Volunteer management. They go on to say – “Managing volunteers is a skilled job that is different from managing paid staff. While the role has more in common with other management roles at a senior or strategic level, at the day to day level there are a number of important differences.”

They go on to list some of these and then talk about Evidence for specialist volunteer management skills

“Research on Valuing Volunteer Management Skills carried out by the Institute for Volunteering Research identified: “several differences between managing volunteers and staff including differences in terms of motivation, recruitment methods, attendance at meetings, taking holidays, boundaries between paid and volunteer roles and the need to deal with mental and physical decline as volunteers got older.”

The volunteer managers interviewed felt strongly that: “There was a need for volunteer management to be seen as a more clearly defined profession.”

Nodding your head? Are we not hearing this globally for some time now?

One of their conclusions states that “Not understanding the different skills needed to manage volunteers and how they differ from managing paid staff, can lead to poor quality services for the people who use the services and poor volunteering experiences for volunteers”

I felt that this was simply a well articulates position paper and something that should be adopted by professional associations for volunteer management firstly and secondly embraced by all bodies and associations involved in volunteerism.

A call for action as well as a wake up call.

At the very least please publish these types of articles and position papers on your websites.

To read the full article just click on this posts title.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Susan Ellis on Tour - and a snapshot by VOLQLD TV

Thanks to the efforts of Volunteering Queensland, OZVPM and People First Total Solutions we had the honour of having Susan Ellis touring Australia recently. I had the privilege of seeing Susan at workshop in Brisbane Australia.

Volunteering Qld have developed A TV Channel which I believe to be an innovative step for any volunteer agency in the globe
It features a regular mix of best practice features on organisations leading volunteering, evocative stories detailing interesting, meaningful volunteer experiences and news on volunteering trends, issues and happenings.

I have talked about this agency taking a leading global position on leadership in matters volunteering before and here is a perfect example
They have great people doing great things in my opinion.

And I am lucky to be a witness to that as I reside in Queensland.

The volunteers they have working on VolunteeringQLDTV are most impressive.
By clicking on the title of this posting you get to see their production and report of Susan Ellis, "It takes a whole organisation."

It is already the top rated clip on Volunteering Qld TV after only being up for 4 days and is the 4th highest viewed clip. Given that it’s only been online for 4 days I am thinking that its resonating with people already.

And why wouldn’t it?

In a few minutes you get to see some great pearls of wisdom from Susan!

Volunteer Management: Perhaps our greatest weakness is not realising our own power.

Power. – “The ability, strength, and capacity to do something - control and influence over other people and their actions” – The Encarta Dictionary.

Lord Acton wrote that power corrupts and I bet you never viewed Volunteer Management as a position of power. Power and Volunteer Management don’t seem to belong in the same sentence – don’t seem to be a natural fit. And good grief why would I be pitting them together when after all other word combinations seems to sit uncomfortably in our profession.

Such as:

Career aspiration and Volunteer Management

Education pathway and Volunteer Management

Financial security and Volunteer Management

Consultancy and Volunteer Management

The above 4 are surely a blog for another day. If you have doubts on what I am saying or difficulty understanding just look at the combinations again and change Volunteer Management into Human Resource Management.

So basically there are positions or philosophical places or contemplations where Volunteer Management is a no go area in my view or an uncomfortable and unwelcome guest because some of us have tried to bring a few of these ideals together.

Take power and Volunteer Management. What power do you wield as a Volunteer Manager or Coordinator within your agency, your community and world?

Have you ever even contemplated this question?

If we follow assumed constraints this may seem like a silly question. Ken Blanchard author of the One Minute Manager wrote that “An assumed constraint is a belief you have , based on past experience, that limits your current and future experience.”

Looking at this statement - I believe that as a sector we don’t believe we have any power at all.



We are not consulted as a profession on a national or international level; if you think so – where I ask you? Please point out and I will publish here. There may be some positive things happening globally but nothing groundbreaking – Again, if you think so – where I ask you? Please point out and I will publish here.

When was the last time you ever saw an association for Volunteer Management exhibit or exercise power? Where? Anywhere in the globe?

Where is the evidence of our ability to act and speak with strength, our capacity to do something and control and influence other people?

Where are the voices then who challenge our consumed constraints? I hear individuals but not a collective organised voice.


I’ve always believed that in order to have a successful Volunteer Management sector we need to have a critical mass of successful Volunteer Managers driving the sector forward.

If the majority of us feel we don’t get what we deserve, or we are under recognized and under resourced or that nothing ever changes within our own organisations then how can we expect any advancement for our sector?

If we, as Volunteer Managers and Coordinators feel powerless at our workplaces then how can we expect our sector to influence anybody or anything?


Effective Volunteer Managers bring to organizations:

Knowledge of an amazing movement that Susan J Ellis calls People Raising (As opposed to Fundraising)

An enormous array of talent and skill given freely

A diversity of background, age, nationality, thought, belief, skills, and motivation

Priceless, yes Price less community buy in

And you, yes, you reading this, manage or coordinate this.

You cultivate the most amazing experiences and influence the lives of so many. Volunteers look to you if you are an effective leader. Other look to you for volunteering solutions. The community seeks you out for gateways to involvement. Society relies on your efforts for building.

You don’t acknowledge your power. It is time you did. And when you do…Lead others to the same belief. And lead some real collective action.

“The only way in which anyone can lead you is to restore to you the belief in your own guidance” – Henry Miller

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Boldy going where no Volunteer Manager has gone before


"I was out doing volunteer management when your grandfather was in diapers" -- Kirk

"But this is the court of the year 2079, by which time all 'United Earth' nonsense had been abolished and Volunteer Management had been recognised as a profession" -- Q, presiding in a postholocaust court (Encounter at Farpoint – Star Trek The Next Generation)

"interesting career this volunteer management is, isn’t it?" -- Spock
It has always been so. -- Sarek
Indeed. Why did you choose this one? -- Spock
It seemed the logical thing to do at the time." -- Sarek (Journey To Babel)

"Please, Spock, do me a favor ... 'n' don't say Volunteer Management’s `fascinating'..." -- Dr. McCoy
"No... but it is... interesting..." -- Spock (The Ultimate Computer)

"Computer, we have decided to support IVMD, abort self destruct sequence; authorization Janeway, pi, 1, 1, 0" -- Janeway (Dreadnought)

Some Quick Bites

Who bites for Volunteer Management?

Should professional associations for Volunteer Management become more political and vocal about all matters volunteerism? If they adapt the philosophy of only dealing with matters pertaining to Volunteer Management specifically do they risk lessening their impact on decisions and dialogue on volunteerism? Volunteer Management is only one spoke in the wheel of volunteer management. Our associations should be having a say on everything happening within the volunteerism sector. Adopt a position people…please..really..Any type of position will do for now. It beats silence. And don’t tell me it’s not your brief because then I don’t know what brief you have.


Anybody at the most recent retreat for advanced volunteer management want to give us a review?

Please email me.

A Seinfeld moment in Volunteer Management

Where is the conference for Volunteer Management in Australia? It doesn’t exist at the moment. Ive thought of a title and slogan:

VPM Festivus – the affordable conference for the rest of us!


From the Korea Herald

An Asia-Pacific conference is seeking speakers to pass on their volunteering experiences and knowledge. The 13th International Association for Volunteer Effort Asia-Pacific Regional Volunteer Conference (Korea) is to be held in Changwon, Gyeongsangnam Province.

The conference titled “Volunteer Initiatives for a Sustainable Global Community: Climate Changes, Poverty, Conflict, and Natural Disasters” will run from Oct. 28-31.

The English-language event is to host discussions on how volunteering can help address problems brought to the Asia-Pacific region by pollution and natural disasters.

Organizers are looking for people to talk on issues falling within four broad categories including volunteering and in relation to climate change, poverty, conflict and natural disasters. There will also be opportunities to present on corporate volunteering, volunteer management, volunteer centers, and the definition of volunteerism.

Applications to make presentations opened on May 12 and will close on June 31. Go to www.iave.org for more information.

Another Response to "A bit rich for Volunteer Managers"

According to blogspot - "We're investigating an issue which is preventing login and comment posting for some users, and hope to have a fix released shortly.Thanks for your patience in the meantime. — latest update on Tuesday, May 24, 2011"

There are still problems as some readers of this blog are unable to post. As previously mentioned, please email me fi you would like to post a comment and are unable to do so on this site. Hopefully the issue will be rectified soon.

In the meantime I recieved this reply from Andy Fryar of OZVPM

"Thanks for raising this issue DJ.

I'm one of those who would certainly take up exhibit space if it was available, and have no qualms with stating up front that as a small business this would be a great place for me to advertise commercially.

My big beef with VA choosing not to have exhibit space however is far broader than me simply not being able to promote the prodcuts I have to sell

I actually believe that a conference should be about more than keynote addresses and workshops - and should instead be a space where the entire volunteer sector can share new initiatives, products, ideas and publications. I actually see this as a responsibility of a peak body to allow this type of dialogue to occur.

I just returned from the MAVA conference in minnesota and their exhibit space went even further and included local craft and jewellery to be sold. needless to say, the exhibit area was always a lively place for people to meet, explore and network between session.

I do hope this may be rectified in the future"

Monday, June 6, 2011

Reply to Post on “ A bit rich for Volunteer Managers”.

Some people are having difficulty lately posting replies to my blog. I am befuddled as to why although a colleague has pointed out that Google is having some technical problems of late with their blogs. If so I hope this is rectified soon.

So if you are having difficulty posting please email me and I will post your replies on my blog.

One such reply came from Sue Hine. Sue was replying to my blog “ A bit rich for Volunteer Managers”.

I would have posted in the reply section of my blog but the word count exceeded the reply amount. And I decided that every word of this passionate response should be seen.

Thanks Sue.

“You are highlighting an infection in our industry - one that pushes us to corporate business aspirations. When we forget our origins we become no better than the profiteers and exploiters that did so much damage to our communities in the past.

This is nowhere more evident in your assertion (June 3) that IYV+10 "isn't meaning much to some". Maybe it is overkill - United Nations International Years go round and come around, and thus lose their currency. Maybe our supportive publics have tired of the endless promotion and fundraising - though they have not yet dropped off volunteering.

A more likely reason for our ennui, I think, is that people in the government and business sectors do not 'get' volunteering. They can make a lot of noises when it comes to IYV+10 or to Volunteer Awareness Week, but the noise I hear is the sound of platitudes that are mere sops to the people who volunteer, and to the efforts of their organisations. Managers of volunteers, of course, do not get a look-in, not a jot of acknowledgement.

There’s a bit of a song-and-dance re IYV+10 in New Zealand, to be held later this month. A seminar will focus on event management (guess what event has prompted this topic!), the use of social media in engaging volunteers in an emergency (no need to guess!), and the business of social lending.

Both event and emergency volunteering got a thorough work-out at the recent Volunteering NZ conference. Nor is the idea of ‘social lending’ something new as those familiar with the Grameen Bank will know.

My grief is that there is so much more to volunteering, to management of volunteers, to organisations, and to the community and voluntary sector than is ever going to be heard in this forthcoming seminar.

We do event management every week of the year; we do fund-raising in all sorts of creative ways without calling it ‘social lending’; and if nobody has yet noticed, the rallying of volunteers during emergencies happens regularly without resort to the designation of ‘national disaster’.

When Volunteering Australia sets its bar for exhibiting at the forthcoming conference it is excluding all the creative enterprise initiated on the smell of an oily rag that could be such a stimulus for others. When Volunteering Australia sets its sights on attracting deep-pocket sponsorship it has lost the plot on the nature of the community and voluntary sector, that part of our social structure that forms the vital third leg of the stool, the balance with government and the private sectors.

When we, as volunteers and managers in the community and voluntary sector, allow others to invade and take over our territory then we have surrendered our cause. What we stand for will not be easily recovered.”

Sue Hine
Blogger and Volunteer Management Advocate
New Zealand

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Valentines and Volunteers

Came across an interesting article with an interesting perspective on the website for the Association of Volunteer management (AVM ) in the UK. Written by N Shaw (sorry..not sure what the N is for ) it got me thinking about Volunteers week and other occasions that are utilised to thank volunteers.

The link is in the title of this blog. AVM has got some good articles and blogs on Volunteer Management and volunteerism and is well worth a look.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A bit rich for Volunteer Managers

The next National conference on volunteering organised by Volunteering Australia - VA - takes place this year. Yep – we had one last year too but because it's IYV plus 10 it’s deemed a significant year to hold another. I am sure some research goes in to these years but I can tell you as a Volunteer Manager on the ground that IYVplus 10 isnt meaning much to some.
If you want to have a display at the next VA conference it will set you back a few bucks. According to my sources space is a privilege of sponsorship and not available on its own. Sponsorship packages range from $15,000 to $50,000.

Is this therefore a barrier to:

•Small businesses who are engaged in volunteerism or volunteer management consultancy

•Representative Organisations such as the Australasian Association for Volunteer Administrations

•State centre’s for volunteering

•Any community organisations with an interest to promoting itself.

Sure I understand and applaud the attempt at engaging big business to sponsor such things. And sure I get the work towards involving government and extracting a dollar from them as well but
Is this pricing a significant sector out of our National Conference in Australia? Doesn't this lose sight of the seemingly "smaller" players who actually have a large impact on the narrative in volunteerism and volunteer management.

At the next conference our sector should be able to see a diverse range of people and organisations who have an interest in volunteerism.

Featured Post

The simple act of kindness.

How we learn from our children! This post was inspired by an act of my daughter. When her mum arrived at work today she found this...