Where are the Fireworks on International Volunteer Managers Day?

Sue Hines writes an interesting piece on International Volunteer Managers Day in her latest blog. The link to Sues Blogsite can be found on the right!

The view that there will be noise all round the world to celebrate the day is one, alas, I cannot share.

The problem, as I see it, with IVMD is that it is being smothered with niceness and tarnished with insignificance.

Years ago I had an issue with a well known speaker on volunteerism who basically stated the day was cringe worthy and had no time for volunteer managers patting themselves on the back. I disagreed vehemently then.

I am not so sure now.

My belief in the day and its purpose has not wavered. I am not too sure that people understand what the day is about. If small pockets of volunteer managers throughout the globe meet for tea and cakes and do nothing more for the sector itself then how is this “education through celebration”

I saw someone writing on the IVMD Facebook page that they were going to get a few Volunteer Managers together to clean up a beach. How is this “education through celebration?”

Where is IVMD being celebrated? Is the Volunteerism world itself sitting up and taking note? Let’s take a quick look at what the sector is saying 6 days before the event.

Volunteering Australia fails to mention the day in its “Latest News”. There is no story about the day on its website. Click on the Managers of Volunteers page and you find no mention of the day.

Search “International Volunteer Managers day” on its site and you get a link to the days website. Nothing more.

Ok – let’s look at the AAVA website. The professional association for Volunteer Managers in Australasia has no news on this day, which is 6 days away, on their website. It’s a bit harder for our sector to make the above comments on the lack of Interest from Volunteering Australia when our own sector is not getting it right. Stones and glasshouses and all that! There is no news about what is happening anywhere on this site for IVMD!

Same can be said of the Association of Volunteer Management website in the UK. No mention of our “big day” on their site either. A search of IVMD on the site yields a few results and articles from 2009 and 2007.

Close to home again there is no mention of IVMD on Volunteering Queensland’s webpage (would be a good story for the Wonderful VOLQLD TV Channel IMHO!)

Nadda on Volunteering New Zealands site – not even on the events calendar. Better news from Volunteering WA and Volunteering Tasmania who are highlighting some events associated with the day. Ok I guess tea and cake is better than nothing!

Rather than go on I encourage you to check your own local association or volunteer centre and check out what they are saying or doing about IVMD this year.

Sue Hines writes that “Most events will happen on Friday November 4. At least we avoid the fireworks this time.”

We actually need Fireworks for IVMD! We need more passion and to get more people to take notice.


•Drop an email to your professional body for volunteer management and ask them how they are marking the day?

•Send a blank Celebration card to your national body on volunteering. In it slip a note and write “Please don’t ignore IVMD again next year – from a Volunteer Manager!

•Send a congrats email to those organisations that do support the day

•Alert your local member of parliament/Senator about the day and encourage them to get together with local VMs

•Write a blog here on the merits or otherwise of IVMD.

For me IVMD should be about raising the profile of our profession thus increasing its value! IVMD should be the vehicle to profile Volunteer Management in a positive light. It should be used to educate organisations and the community about the importance of effective and well resourced Volunteer Management.

It should be the Blue Ribbon day for all professional associations for Volunteer Managers! It should be an important date for Volunteerism!

But is it?


  1. Thanks for raisning the debate DJ. I know you are a staunch supporter and certainly appreciate it.

    Like you I share the frustrations that Sunrise aren't running stories on IVMDay or that the PM is not mentioning it in her press releases

    However, I am thrilled that this year organisations are continuing to promote the day without much prompting from the organising committee

    The lesson for those of us like you and I who have a 'voice' in this sector is to continue to stir the sort of debate you are raising and to continue to encourage the sector to use the day as a vehicle to forge 'real' change for their own situation - but sadly this won't however happen overnight.

    Always remember, a decade or so ago there was not even a day to complain about :O) ...so that is progress

    The other thing for me to say is that the small band of volunteers who try and drive the day each year are already planning some significant changes next year - and we would love to hear from anyone interested in playing a more active part in this

    Andy Fryar
    IVMDay Committee

  2. Thanks for your reply Andy! While never envisaging Sunrise running a story or Our PM mentioning the day in a press release I am bewildered that our peak bodies for volunteering and volunteer management are failing to mention the day in dispatches!

  3. Yes I can share your frustrations DJ. What I would like most is to get IMVDay recognised or even simply acknowledged by people outside our sector, so that it's not you and me and other managers organising the function, blowing up the balloons and baking the cakes. And I mean beyond peak bodies. In my recent conversations with local MPs there is much interest expressed in the value and importance of management of volunteers, but their focus slides into volunteering which is more newsworthy, and never mind the management of.

    Same thing has happened with IYV+10 (see my post http://management4volunteers.wordpress.com/2011/09/11/iyv10-the-year-that-got-lost/ )

    A lot of my writing seeks to encourage a feel-good factor among the myriad of managers of volunteers, the small organisations, the multi-role players, the part-time and the unpaid leaders of volunteers. I shall keep bleating, so that one day we will not be needing an International Day to give due recognition to managers of volunteers.

  4. Well personally I don't see any reason why sunrise shouldn't be promoting the important work that we do! Perhaps i'll send them an email :O)

    VA have never actively promoted the day which has always been a sad state of affairs for me. AAVA are supporters, and I know that they have mentioned the day in some communications - but not sure why this has not transferred to their website.

    The good news is that some key peak bodies such as Volunteer Canada and Volunteering NZ do continue to be active supporters and promoters of the day in their respective countries

    Andy Fryar

  5. Hi DJ. A great blog, as always.

    It is sad that the day appears to have a low profile amongst peak bodies and professional associations. Here in England there seems to be nothing on the Volunteering England website about the day (so far anyway) and nothing on AVM's website either as you point out.

    There is good news though.

    Volunteer Centre Warrington has a webinar planned for Thursday which coincides with he final day the European Year of Volunteering tour is in London. Details can be found at http://bit.ly/pxwWdX.

    I have also been doing stuff to promote the day via my business, for example a countdown clock on the homepage of the website (http://bit.ly/lPUsHF) as well as promotional tweets etc.. I'll also be publishing a blog post later this week on i-volunteer as well as writing to all members of UKVPMs.

  6. Hi All,

    Many thanks to you Andy for pointing out that AAVA is a supporter of IVMD. AAVA did actually register as a supporter of the day about three years ago, and the wording under 'Events' on the IVMD website clearly outlines the support that AAVA gives to higlight this day.

    "AAVA AWARD OF EXCELLENCE - AAVA, the Australasian Association of Volunteer Administrators have come on board to support IVM Day and are providing an avenue through which organisations can extend the cheering section to beyond the VPMs themselves.

    To recognise excellence in the profession, AAVA will announce an annual Australasian Administrator Award of Excellence on November 5 each year.

    AAVA plans to hold this award as an annual event and believes that it is most appropriate to announce the winner on such a significant date for Volunteer Program Managers.

    For more details about the award please visit www.aava.asn.au"

    Unfortunately we have had difficulty in recent months updating the AAVA website and have not been able to include this information on our home page. We have however been communicating with our members one-on-one through email and via the phone when needed to keep them posted on what we are doing.

    Are you a member of AAVA DJ? If you were you would have seen all of the good work that is going on with the Association and how they are supportive of IVMD.

    Just myself personally, on behalf of the Association, I will be attending two functions on IVMD. Firstly, I am speaking at a Graduation Ceremony for recipients recieving their Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas in Volunteer Management. The second is a networking event where the winner of the Volunteer Management Award of Excellence will be announced and another AAVA board member is one of the hosts.

    I would however extend an invitation to you or any of your readers that if there are things that they would like to see happening with AAVA, to get involved.

    The AAVA board is a small group of Volunteer Managers who volunteer their time for the good of our profession, and you know what they say about many hands make light work. (As I know you know having been a previous AAVA President yourself!) We would love your help to make some of these things happen!

    Looking forward to hearing from you and your readers soon about ways they can get involved and help!

    Karen Buenger
    AAVA President

  7. Hi Karen.

    Many thanks for your response to my blog and I must say that I was delighted to see a response from AAVA. One of the issues Ive had with AAVA of late is that they don’t seem to be engaging with the issues of the day, the forums on volunteer management or the narrative on leadership in Volunteer Management. Hence my delight with your answer Karen!

    Glad to see you mention the “AAVA AWARD OF EXCELLENCE”. I remember coming up with this idea years ago as President of AAVA and was delighted to see people within our sector embrace it.

    However when I proposed the idea It wasn’t linked to IVMD. Nevertheless I am glad that it is now. It’s an award that I have championed every year since its birth in many forums.

    I am sorry to hear that there have been difficulties with the AAVA website and I wish you well in rectifying that situation shortly.

    I do think it is important even just to reflect accurately who is who on the board and what is happening with your association.

    You ask “Are you a member of AAVA DJ?” Now Karen I would have assumed you would have known the answer to this! Indeed you kinda give it away when you continue with “If you were you would have seen all of the good work that is going on with the Association and how they are supportive of IVMD.”

    Which begs the question “Why ask”?

    Which makes me think that there may be a belief from you (and AAVA) that one can’t comment/criticize AAVA unless one is a member?

    That would be a shame. I have served quite some time with AAVA as member, board member and President. I would have thought commentary from someone with that track record would be welcomed.

    In my blog on IVMD I comment on several peak bodies on volunteering and other national associations for Volunteer Management globally and highlight their lack of “media” on IVMD 2011. Should I not comment on these organisations because I have no membership in them?

    To readers of this blog then I answer the question – I have not renewed my membership of AAVA this year. My reasons are many and some reasoning is very recent! I will be happy to write an entire blog on the reasons or engage AAVA in a dialogue or debate in the future on the matter. Perhaps at a future Volunteer Management retreat?

    It is interesting to note however that I have never been officially asked why I have left AAVA. I would encourage the organisation to develop an Exit survey. It’s something I should have thought of myself during my own stint with AAVA.

    I am interested in seeing a strong body representing my sector. However I will continue to speak out as an individual Volunteer Manager until I see this happen. I have used the following quote in other debates but am happy to do so again and again!

    Winston Churchill once said “criticism may not be agreeable but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

  8. Thanks everyone for your comments and feedback. Since my blog I have seeen information on IVMD on the AAMoV ( Formerly known as AAVA) website and a great clip has gone up on YOUTUBE from Volunteering QLD TV! Great stuff! :-)

  9. Hi All,

    I just want to illustrate again that the point of my post was to highlight that AAMoV (The Australasian Association of Managers of Volunteers - previously known as AAVA) are in fact doing positive things and that we are major supporters of IVMDay.

    As the new President of AAMoV, I welcome and invite constructive criticism and feedback from both members and non member alike. Not giving constructive feedback is like eating in a good restaurant and not letting them know you have received bad service. If you simply leave with no intention of returning and don’t share your feedback with the establishment, how are they ever expected to learn about the areas they need to improve on and make things better?

    My other comments above were merely meant to point out that it is members who will find out what is going on first and foremost through our various phone calls, emails and newsletters. While we are increasingly trying to respond more to current issues raised via the various social media platforms, the AAMoV board are a very small group of volunteers (about 6 of us) and we rely on our members to work with us to keep abreast of the issues affecting them.

    As President, I acknowledge that previously AAMoV may not have always done things as well as we had set out to. We also acknowledge that this has resulted in some members losing faith in the Association and falling off the bandwagon. Let me reassure you and your readers that we have identified these areas and are continuing to examine new ways to do them. I don’t see the past as a failure, but more as a learning opportunity of how we might do things better!

    The new AAMoV board is already working very hard to develop a culture of transparency through greater inclusion of its members. We are building on our current communication strategy, with regular updates through our newsletters, current information on our website, emails - and by seeking AAMoV champions in each state/ territory/ country. We are working on building our member benefits, such as discounted training through peak bodies, identifying networking opportunities, mentoring and supporting new volunteer managers, information sharing and voicing member opinions to peak bodies and government (such as we did just last week in a letter to the VA board, voicing our members concerns about the high cost to attend their conference).

    I would like to extend an invitation to people to re-invest their faith in us. It is an aim of the board that past members again believe in the direction of the association, see the benefits of membership and support us again with their positive involvement.

    The Australasian Association of Managers of Volunteers – AAMoV is just that - an Association that represents EVERY Manager of Volunteers.

    Edward Everett Hale once said “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do, interfere with what I can do.”

    To have a bigger voice, to be better at what we do and to be a stronger representative of our profession, we need both members and non member support.

    Karen Buenger
    President - AAMoV

  10. Thank you for your comments Karen and for taking the time to do so. What you say makes so much sense and I agree that a stronger association needs the support from the sector.

    Good luck with your role and the year ahead.I concur with your call for positive involvement! I hope that I can do my bit to assist in whatever way I can.




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