Sunday, August 28, 2011

Repetitive signals going to Volunteers on Mars

I’ve been writing on Volunteer Management for some 15 months now. I’ve been a Volunteer Manager for 14 years. Hard to believe that after all this time I’ve only discovered on the world wide web some definitions on Volunteer Management and some tips as well!

My enlightenment comes from I’m not too sure how long this piece or page for Volunteer Management has been there

Let me share some of what I have found. My commentary will be in brackets
What is Volunteer Management?

“Volunteer management is, at its core, selecting and supervising volunteers. Yet it is also much more than that. (Phew…I am so glad you added this part) Volunteer management is a key position in the leveraging of an organization’s resources, on par with fundraising/development and human resources. (Kinda, I would have said on par with any management position in your organisation)

Volunteer management is the gateway to the community, providing citizens with opportunities to become more involved in local issues and global causes, and serving as a grassroots source of public relations and marketing. Volunteer management ensures that there is community buy-in of an organization’s mission, thereby strengthening an organization’s credibility in the eyes of the public.

Volunteer management is the guardian of well-being, for volunteers and constituents, and for the organizations involving them. ( I really like this last line but feel it should be explained in more detail)

An eloquent narrative of the responsibilities of volunteer management professionals, the Universal Declaration on the Profession of Leading and Managing Volunteers, can be found on the Volunteer Canada website. (The What?? First I’ve heard of this)”

Ok then – let’s take a look at this Universal Declaration.

When I clicked on the link it informed me that “Page was not found”
So I googled Universal Declaration on the Profession of Leading and Managing Volunteers

So this is something that was developed in 2001 by the International Working Group on the Profession Convened by the Association for Volunteer Administration Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2001

Here it is. (again my commentary will be in brackets)

"Value and Contribution of Directors of Volunteers

*The phrase Directors of Volunteers applies equally to terms like administrators, managers, coordinators and directors of volunteers. For this declaration, the term “Director of Volunteers” was selected to represent these many terms.

Directors of Volunteers promote change, solve problems, and meet human needs by mobilizing and managing volunteers for the greatest possible impact.

Directors of Volunteers aspire to:

act in accordance with high professional standards.

build commitment to a shared vision and mission.

develop and match volunteer talents, motivations, time availability and differing contributions with satisfying opportunities.

guide volunteers to success in actions that are meaningful to both the individual and the cause they serve.

help develop and enhance an organizing framework for volunteering (sounds good so far!)


Directors of Volunteers mobilize and support volunteers to engage in effective action that addresses specified needs.

As Directors of Volunteers we strive to:

be innovative agents for change and progress.
be passionate advocates for volunteering. (and Volunteer Managers??)
welcome diverse contributions and ideas.
develop trusting and positive work environments in which volunteers and other resources are effectively engaged and empowered.
ensure the safety and security of volunteers. (Huh?- isn’t this part of any organisational responsibility?)
develop networks and facilitate partnerships to achieve desired results.
be guided by, and committed to the goals and ideals of the cause/mission towards which we are working and to continually expand our knowledge and skills.
communicate sensitively and accurately the context, rationale, and purpose of the work we are doing.
learn from volunteers and others in order to improve the quality of our work. (would love them to expand on what this means)

Core Beliefs

As Directors of Volunteers, we hold these beliefs and seek to demonstrate them in our actions:

We believe in the potential of people to make a difference.
We believe in volunteering and its value to individuals and society.
We believe that change and progress are possible.
We believe that diversity in views and in voluntary contribution enriches our effort.
We believe that tolerance and trust are fundamental to volunteering.
We believe in the value of individual and collective action.
We believe in the substantial added value represented by the effective planning, resourcing and management of volunteers.

The complexity of the problems the world faces reaffirms the power of volunteering as a way to mobilize people to address those challenges.
In order for volunteering to have the greatest impact and to be as inclusive as possible, it must be well planned, adequately resourced and effectively managed. This is the responsibility of Directors of Volunteers. ( Isn’t this the responsibility of organisations???)

They are most effective when their work is recognized and supported.(They can be and more often than not are effective without support and recognition... it should state that they should be recognisesd and supported!)

Therefore, we call on leaders in:
Non governmental and civil society organizations, to make volunteering integral to achieving their missions and to elevate the role of volunteer directors within the organization

Government at all levels, to invest in the sustainable development of high quality volunteer leadership and to model excellence in the management of volunteers

Business and the private sector, to understand the importance of volunteer management and to assist volunteer-involving organizations in developing this capacity

Funders and donors, to support the commitment of resources to build the capacity of volunteer management

Education, to provide opportunities for leaders of volunteers to continually expand their knowledge and skills

(they should have added: Peak bodies for volunteering, local, state, national and international to support the commitment of resources to build the capacity of volunteer management)

We call upon Directors of Volunteers worldwide to accept this Declaration, to integrate and embody it in our shared work, and to promote and encourage its adoption.

While we recognize that all countries in the world do not approach volunteer development in the same way, this Declaration is intended to encourage all those concerned with the advancement of this profession, to aspire to these statements.

Developed by the International Working Group on the Profession
Convened by the Association for Volunteer Administration Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2001

With representation from: Argentina, Bangladesh, Canada, England, Hungary, Israel, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Scotland, United States
(where was the UK, Australia and others back then?)

So there it is. How many of you in Volunteer Management have even seen this. Whatever has become of this declaration? From what I can see the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA) still adheres to the principals of this declaration.

As for the declaration itself I have some thoughts.

Much of what is said is great. But I bet that many in our sector have never heard of it. Or indeed heard of AVA. But my real concern here is that any advancement or progress in our sector seems to be cyclical. I am basing this thought process on anecdotal evidence. It seems to me that we seem to be making great strides once in every 10 years. And by great strides I mean an ability to have great dreams and aspirations.

If all of this was happening in 2001 then we have not progressed much at all. Indeed I reflected on this in a blog of mine on the examinations of Hot Topics by eminent writers in our sector over the last 10 years. In my blog I stated that we tended to be revisiting our issues cyclically. You know the debating points du jour right now:

Definitions of volunteering
What should our titles be?
Credentialing of volunteering
Creating a strong profession
Why are we ignored by other management?

It makes for great reading on blogs and journals. It makes for more interesting workshops and presentations to Conferences on volunteering. It fills the gaps there.

But can we not see the sign or message coming through?

We are still stuck on the same issues after too many years. Where is the evidence of progress in our sector? I am talking about progress for the sector nationally and internationally. I say this to deflect the “ Oh there is good stuff happening at a local level here” brigade. I get that and praise that. But tell me why I fear I could be reading the same old hot topics in 10 years!

HOT TOPIC 2021 – “Volunteer Managers – Is everyone happy with this title?”

HOT TOPIC 2021 – What is the definition of a volunteer? – discuss for another 10 years!

HOT TOPIC 2021 – Why don’t Executive get me?

HOT TOPIC 2021 – Volunteer Managers Versus Time Management

To those who will say “what are the solutions DJ” I say read all my blog postings please. Part of the solution is in self realization. The ability to see there is a problem here. Followed by the ability to form groups who recognise this and act.

There are so many people new to our profession and you may be one of them.

New to the Hot Topic of the day

New to universal declarations

New to some of the issues of the sector

Let’s hope you grasp some of these issues and take positive action to change our way of being.

Because in 2021 our sector needs to be just that - a sector – one that has gained the confidence to be strong and heard and I certainly don’t want to be blogging on the same old stuff to our sector on earth and other planets who may or may not have come in contact with. Are there volunteers on Mars?! Now that’s a true Universal thought!

No comments:

Post a Comment

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...