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.

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