Thursday, September 15, 2011

What we do in Volunteer Management

I began a blog on “The 20 traits of Volunteer Management in 2050.” Simply because several people look at 2020 to bring about new change.

I am not as hopeful. I started writing thus:

1.Our sector will be seen as a vital part of society

2.We will extract ourselves from the traits of volunteering

And then I stopped. And then I realised, as a Volunteer Manager for many years, that I had come upon a major issue in our field. One that is, of course, not discussed due to the general lack of curiosity in research in Volunteer Management.(Oh we have heaps of research into volunteerism...great fodder for acedemia at conferences......)

And it is this.

We have for far too long equated feelings or assumptions on Volunteering with Volunteer Management.

Let me give you an example of what I am hinting at:

Volunteering is nice. Therefore Volunteer Management is nice

Volunteering is a warm, cozy and fluffy story therefore so is Volunteer Management

Volunteering is nice but not necessary therefore…….

The problem, as I see it, is that so many in our field self perpetuate this line of thinking.

On top of this we have peak bodies for volunteering in some countries not taking Volunteer Management as a profession seriously. I will resist mentioning my own national peak body …suffice to say they have never written a piece on this blog anyway or responded to other volunteer management blogs or forums and there are a few!…so enough said!!

But maybe we have attached ourselves too much to the motivations and traits for volunteering.

We do not need to do this! We need to understand the motivation behind volunteering but we do not need to be advocates for these motivations!

Let me give you an example of what I am getting at. I’ve heard it say that a prerequisite for a Volunteer Manager should be individual volunteering experience!I.e.that you need to have been a volunteer.

I absolutely disagree!

You need to have an understanding of managing or coordianting and an understanding of how you do this in relation to volunteers. Period!

I’ve done one form of volunteering or another for over 2o years. In my next volunteering role I won’t care if my manager has volunteered or not. Let’s get over our non issues! I’m happy as long as I am engaged and utilised appropriately and as long as I leave my volunteering job for the day with a sense that I achieved something!

Volunteering and Volunteer Management needs a demarcation too.

In 2050 we can have a confident, resourced and respected sector that manages and leads. Let the volunteers do what volunteers do best please!

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