Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Unique ability to motivate people" - More thoughts on Volunteerism and Volunteer Management

Sue Kobar is the Volunteer Services & Hospice Shop Operations Manager for Nurse Maude New Zealand. She is passionate about volunteerism and believes that volunteers are an integral part of an organisation. Her motto of “don’t ask someone to do something you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself’ has served her well over the past 25 years.

1.In 20 words or less describe/define Volunteer Management

Volunteer management is the unique ability to motivate people to donate their time to be of service to others.

2.What are the 3 main differences between Volunteer Management and Human Resource Management?

Do you mean other than the huge pay discrepancy! Human Resources Management is very structured and HR staff tends to work in a black or white environment. Whereas Managers of volunteers tend to create volunteer opportunities where needed and work in all shades of grey. Both provide staffing (paid or unpaid) assistance, guidance, advice and support across an organisation.

3.Where is the current leadership evident in Volunteer Management?

There are lots of people out there making themselves heard however I believe the strongest evidence of leadership is still in the grass roots organisations where the work is identified and organised mostly, if not entirely, by volunteers. If anything has been confirmed in the volunteer sector since the Christchurch earthquakes it is that people will take action to help and side step the obstacles – that is true dedication and volunteer leadership.

4.Finish this sentence in less than 50 words… An association in volunteer management should…

I’m probably not the right person to answer this...however, since you asked: I believe an association of volunteer management should promote all aspects of volunteerism, engage their membership in dialogue about future directions, and be inclusive rather than exclusive.

5.There have been many debates on the definition of volunteering itself. How would you define volunteering?

Volunteering is the willingness to be of service to others without expectation of remuneration.

6.If you weren’t doing this what other profession would you have been interested in?

I would very much like to be in theatre – and I don’t mean serving the refreshments.

7. Who do you believe has been the most inspiring volunteer in history?

Princess Diana

8.Where do you think social media can take volunteerism and volunteer management?

Social media is fantastic for promoting volunteer opportunities. It also provides a mechanism for feedback which means we will be instantly held accountable for a person’s experience while volunteering with us.

9. Does Government get volunteering? If not why not?

Yes, absolutely there is a place for government in volunteering. They have the resources to pass legislature that will improve all aspects of volunteerism and we should become more comfortable in working alongside government agencies and key government officials.

10.What would you like to achieve personally in the volunteerism world?

My goal has always been towards education & support for leaders of volunteers. Other professions have educational requirements – why not us. What I have seen though is that in the process of developing an educational component it becomes too complicated and people become discouraged because it takes years to achieve.

I would also like to leave a legacy of promoting voluntary service and work hard to ensure that a person’s volunteer experience is so positive that it results in a lifetime of service. That a person know it’s okay not to volunteer all the time however say yes when they can.


  1. Thank you Sue for taking time out to contribute to this narrative. Your thoughts were great to read and reflect on. I hope we see some more from you!

  2. Yes, thank you Sue...and DJ for including this post


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