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

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