Showing posts from April, 2011

Does it pay to manage volunteers?

I had an email from someone a few weeks ago saying that they felt they were not being paid enough. To help their cause they wanted to benchmark the industry on pay rates.

My thoughts are that this in fact could be counterproductive.

The fact is that no one knows what people leading volunteer teams should be paid.

We’ve had many debates over the years on this and related items for example “should a person managing 100 volunteers be paid differently to someone managing 15” that’s just one. However I’ve also noticed that we are most uncomfortable talking about such matters.

Let me straight out, from the start, inform you that I am talking about Paid Volunteer Managers. I have to say this because there are “volunteer” volunteer managers out there. I run into them at talks I give on Volunteer management.

I have to always emphasize that just because they are unpaid doesn’t mean they have the skills to do the job. People miss my point.
However we are unique as a sector that such people exis…

An inspiring and validating sound in Volunteer Management

In my most recent blog post “The sound of silence in Volunteer Management” I bemoaned the fact that our sector is so reticent to engage social media and develop a voice – a voice that should and must be included in the volunteerism narrative.

The quality of responses merits a blog post of its own.
I believe Jayne Cravens has the best blog on volunteerism and related matters in the globe. Jayne emailed me this response:

"Volunteer managers will say so much in a workshop, but online, the silence is deafening.

I think a lot of the silence comes from a culture volunteer managers have created for themselves, a culture that requires us to be nice, to be team players, to be safe, to be non-confrontational and to never, ever rock the boat. I've met volunteer managers who are so terrified of saying the "wrong" thing in writing that they won't write emails to volunteers, let alone respond to a blog post!

I'd love to blame others for this culture. I'd love to …

The sound of silence in Volunteer Management

***“And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dare
Disturb the sound of silence”

Martin J Cowling in his blog “The Cowling Report” asks “How do I get comments on my blog posts? I know people are reading them but I would love some comments here!” The irony here is there is no response to this blog so far. At the end of my post at least there will be one.

Sue Hine writes a great blog and is linked here.

A snippet from her blog:

“The worst indictment I have ever seen is the case of the Manager of Volunteers who ‘owns’ the volunteers. They are never ‘my’ volunteers, as I wrote in this blog months ago. Management of Volunteers is about running a service or programme for your organisation. What you do with volunteers in all the training and support and communication and relationship stuff is Leadership (another story, another time).
If you …


I was delighted that this blog was nominated for the Best Australian Blogs 2011 Competition.

There is also a People's Choice Award and this is
where I am seeking your vote.

By clicking on the header of this post you will be taken straight to the voting page. Just scroll down to DJ Cronin :-)

Thanks for taking the time to vote and please spread the news!

Essential Event for Volunteer Management

I often talk about a significant event that happened in my life.

It was an event that changed my perspective on my career. It was the Australasian Retreat for Advanced Volunteer Management.

The first one was held in Canberra Australia in 2005. At the time I was at a career threshold. I was actually on the verge of changing jobs and leaving volunteer management.

Then came the Retreat. It blew me away. For the first time I met people who were serious about our profession. In fact it was the first time I heard the word profession mentioned. It was the first time I heard of a professional association. It was my first encounter with people who were engaging in critical thinking on Volunteer Management. It was the first time I encountered advanced thinking in our field. To be blunt – it was the first time I began to understand that we were in fact a legitimate field.

The event changed my perspective. In fact the event changed my life. How many life changing events have you attended? Had I…

Carey asks "Do you feel lucky, Volunteer Managers?"

I just stumbled across a great and honest blog written on Volunteermatch

In this article the writer Carey Fritz has written about the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of her experiences in volunteer management.

Her article in my opinion is brave, forthright and insightful. Its content and the content of the responses are indicative of the issues that the volunteer management sector face globally.

We need more perceptive writing like this. We need more people to share the Good the bad and the ugly of their experiences.

This is of course required reading for anyone interested in the volunteerism sector whether that be volunteering peak bodies or professional associations for volunteer managers.

How are Volunteer Managers coping on the ground? Really coping. Its very brave for someone like Carey to share her story because so few of us do it.

When I present on Validating Volunteer Management I happily share my story of emerging from the bad and ugly of being undervalued and or under re…

Getting a look Europe!

Here’s some news from Europe which is celebrating European Year of Volunteering at the moment

“European Year of Volunteering partners sharing £580,000 announced
12 Apr 2011

Volunteering England will lead the charge in the UK's efforts for the European Year of Volunteering after receiving £78,000 from a £580,000 pot provided by the Office for Civil Society (OCS) and the European Commission (EC) to help encourage volunteering.

The umbrella body will oversee activities undertaken by five organisations that will lead the key themes for the UK's participation.
Four of these five organisations, which will each receive £37,000, have also been announced by the Cabinet Office:

•Volunteering charity v and youth charity Catch22 will partner to lead the children and young people theme;
•Age UK will lead activity for health and social care;
•Groundwork West Midlands will lead on the environment; and
•Arts and Business will lead on culture and the arts.

The organisation leading on s…

What’s holding us back? Discuss

Do the words volunteer, volunteering and volunteerism hinder and hold us back as a sector?

Now that’s a bit of a controversial statement isn’t it?
I recently gave a presentation at a conference. I got some strange looks. I do this. Normally at speaking engagements I give a personal opinion type of talk. This surprises people. I’m not into the “how to recruit and retain volunteers” talk. Though I can do so and have done so.


Volunteering is free therefore there is less value placed on it

It’s noble

It’s lovely

Like volunteer management?

Do we have an embedded subliminal fear that our jobs are not “real” because we manage a movement that is unpaid – and thus devalued? Would a psychological analysis reveal some real fears on job security, career authenticity and a predisposition to not rock the boat at any cost?
Do we keep our heads down so we aren’t really noticed and thus keep our positions? Do we therefore have problem putting up boundaries. Do too many of us take on t…

Volunteer Management Blog Nominated for award

Today I received a lovely surprise by email:

“Congratulations on being nominated for the Best Australian Blogs 2011 Competition, brought to you by the Sydney Writers' Centre. Offering over $7,500 worth of prizes and showcasing the Australian blogosphere, the Best Australian Blogs 2011 competition has 4 distinct categories and is also running a People's Choice award that you can opt into.”

This came from Rose Powell Communications Coordinator at the Best Australian Blogs 2011 Competition - A Sydney Writers' Centre Initiative

This came totally out of the blue and I’d like to thank the person who nominated me! I often talk about validating our colleagues in the Volunteer Management sector and here is the perfect example of how we can do such things.

I have opted into the people’s choice award as well as I feel this can be an opportunity to promote the Volunteer Management sector. I will be letting you know how you can support me with this via this blog and Facebook and other…

Volunteer Management: Are we a profession or not?

Some of us have the audacity to call ourselves a profession. After all in some countries we have so called professional bodies for Volunteer management.

In a research paper from 2009 Debbie Haski-Leventhal states
“Management of volunteers is an occupation, that is, it is a job (usually a paid one) that is undertaken in an organisational context, usually in nonprofit organisations. In order for it to become a discrete
profession a few conditions have to exist.

Brint (1994) explained that a professionalization process usually occurs in five stages:

1. A group of people start to work in a required occupation, usually in full time paid work;
2. The group develops a union or an umbrella organisation for purposes of professional
socialisation, education and learning;
3. The group begins to look for ways to formally train its members;
The professionalisation process of volunteer management in Australia

4. The state/government may give some guidelines on who can work in the profession,

It’s good news week....every week

Today I met a guy who volunteers one day a week at a school tuck shop.He inspired me.

A few days ago I gave a talk to over 70 volunteer managers and coordinators in Adelaide. I left the venue having met some really inspiring people.

I spent a day at the Lyell McEwin hospital and was amazed at their inspiring volunteer services staff and volunteers. I spent an hour on my own wandering around having a look at their volunteers in action. I had a wonderful conversation with a volunteer at their café. They were friendly, generous with their time and…I say it again…inspiring.

I suggest if you work in this field visiting a place where there are volunteers and from a distance observing the work of volunteers. Hospitals can be a good place to do this. Watch the friendly faces meet and greet, direct, ease concerns, and add the human touch.

It’s a humbling experience especially if you remove your hat of Volunteer manager. Because at the end of the day, beyond the processes, beyond the PDs, sy…