Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Speak now, or forever hold your peace.

“Don’t wait for your ship to come in- swim out to meet it!”

I often bemoan the lack of response from the Volunteer Management sector to issues of the day.

I have to however distinguish between the effective Volunteer Manager and those who purport to represent my sector of professional Volunteer management. I speak here with an international tongue by the way and do not single out any national body.

Firstly, let’s take the Professional Volunteer Manager. We can have a complete book on what makes a professional and an effective one at that. Er..is there one?

Here’s the crux…doesn’t a Volunteer manager have every right to say that their sole brief is to manage effectively volunteers at their organisation? This encompasses the traits of effective management of volunteers which includes providing meaningful tasks, recognition, training, orientation, evaluation, etc. etc. etc. and there are so many etceteras in the job.

At the end of the day the Volunteer Manager Position Description does not normally include

• Must be an advocate of the Volunteer Management sector
• Must be an advocate of volunteers
• Must have volunteered within the last 12 months
• Must have volunteering experience
• Must demonstrate professional development in the field

It simply is not the case. No matter how many of us wish it was so.

What I will challenge however is those who purport to represent volunteer managers or the volunteerism sector. Namely

1. Associations for Volunteer Management
2. Peak bodies for volunteering

A malaise in the Volunteer management sector is connected to both the above

Associations for Volunteer Management are so silent I could nearly bet that there might be a whole range of people out there in Volunteer Management who don’t even know that these groups exist.
I keep hearing better things are on the way. What was that about cows coming home?

What is to be done?

In black and white here’s what our associations should be doing

1. They should represent their members. Definition of “Represent”: transitive verb to act or speak on behalf of somebody or something!
2. They do this by gauging their memberships thinking and then responding to any issues of the day.
3. They respond to every volunteerism issue and -Volunteer Management issue in every possible forum.
4. They LEAD “Real leaders are ordinary people with extraordinary determination”
5. They LEAD by being involved in decision making, by consulting with government and peak bodies for volunteering.
6. They demonstrate their leadership by being consulted by Government, peak bodies and media!
7. They make decisions that the rest would like to consult on
8. They have respect
9. They have earned that respect by their actions

None of this exists internationally in the volunteer management sector! If you can prove me wrong email me or post a comment here.

Oh yes – we may have some lovely thought bubbles. We may attend a retreat or conference where we have what is akin to a lovemaking afterglow that lasts for a few days.

But nothing much is happening. “We are what we repeatedly do”

Every time Volunteer management associations are mentioned for example their media expert should be responding. That’s one of the problems with professional associations-who amongst them have a media expert?

All of the above should apply to peak organisations for volunteering. But we have to start with our own Volunteer Management sector first.
Susan Ellis in her latest Hot Topic says “We have to aim much, much higher."

I have written on the Sound of Silence in our sector before. But now I ask:

Are there enough people out there who want to go in another direction? Who want to take the sector to higher places? Shall I invite you on a journey?
Lets create the future

I would love to hear your views

click on the title of this post for a great Youtube vid on leadership quotes and the quotes I use are credited there.

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