Showing posts from 2012

Advance with a Retreat!

It’s back!

“The life changing event for Leaders of Volunteers, the Australasian Retreat for Advanced Volunteer Management is bigger and better than ever!
The Retreat is the leading annual educational and professional development opportunity for volunteer program managers who feel they are past the ‘basics’ of their profession and are seeking new challenges. A world first, the Retreat is valued by hundreds of Managers of Volunteers who say it was the most significant learning experience of their career.
2013 marks the seventh time the Retreat has been held after previous events in Canberra (2005), Brisbane (2006), Hobart (2007), Gold Coast (2009), Adelaide (2010) and Wellington (2011). This year we return to Australia and look forward to hosting the Retreat in the amazing city of Sydney.
The 2013 Retreat will be held at the Novotel Brighton Beach in Sydney from March 20 – 22, and will feature a faculty featuring Retreat Founders Andy Fryar and Martin J Cowling, joined by international gues…

IVMD: Volunteer Managers Acknowldged and Appreciated!

A few months ago I wrote to the Australian Prime Minister as a Volunteer Manager informing her about International Volunteer Managers Day (IVMD). It was lovely to get a reply recently from Andrew Coogan, a senior advisor for our Prime Minister Julia Gillard who was asked to reply on the Prime Ministers behalf.

Here is an edited version of that reply. I dedicate it to all Volunteer Managers on this IVMD. In a way it is written to you.

“Thank you for your letter to the Prime Minister regarding recognising Volunteer Managers. I have been asked to reply on the Prime Minister’s behalf.

The Australia Government recognizes that volunteering is an essential part of a socially inclusive society and helps all Australians to feel valued and have the opportunity to participate in community life. Your contribution as a Volunteer Manager, promoting volunteering within your community and assisting individuals to volunteer, is acknowledged and appreciated.’

The letter goes on to mention the 2012 mem…


Imagine if you can for a moment that you are looking for a job. Imagine you call an organisation and ask if there are any such jobs going at the moment. The person answering the phone is not too sure if they have positions and also isn’t sure who to pass the call onto. So you listen to dreary unimaginative music while you are placed on hold. Until someone with a real voice talks to you and tells you they will send you an application kit and information. Imagine waiting for weeks for mentioned kit. Nothing arrives and you decide to ring again though your patience is tested. You do like the organisation after all and you would like to be part of it. You ring again. You get the pleasure of listening to the same music as someone at the organisation scrambles to see if there are vacancies for your preferred role. Someone offers to send you out an application kit and information. You inform them that this happened weeks ago. So you are booked in for an interview. Imagine if on arrival the “Intervie…

United we broke our Volunteer!

Volunteer managers have great responsibilities. More so than other managers in many cases. When we engage volunteers we engage the community. This is not the same as engaging paid staff. Yes engaging paid staff incurs great responsibility. Your organisation prospers by keeping motivated staff. Having motivated and engaged staff is key to your organisations success. Having motivated and engaged volunteers is even more important in my opinion as you are engaging a voice that has more freedom to speak. Volunteers provide a greater community buy in. Volunteers as I was once told many years ago by people who were scrutinizing my organization for accreditation purposes were the “eyes and ears of the organisation” This is why I have for many years considered volunteers to be consumers and customers. Actually, what I mean to say is that I have tended to treat volunteers that way. I know some of you will jump up and down with that description but that is how I have treated volunteers and that i…

Change of a Dollar

It’s not too often that a movie really touches me. Especially an 11 minute one. Well here is one that did. It’s one that I just discovered and one that I will be sharing with volunteers. I have always believed that It doesn’t take much to be the change in someone’s life. A smile. A kind word. A lending hand. A shoulder to cry on. A listening ear. A laugh shared. Little things can mean a lot.
It is good to remind volunteers sometimes that everything they do, from the little things to the bigger and more public things mean a lot. And sometimes we don’t even realise that a small action on our part can have amazing consequences for another. This 11 minutes or so gave me encouragement and hope too. And faith in the goodness of a world where so much bad news reigns. I am passing this little gem forward. I hope that some of you do too!

Over 100000 pageviews! Thank you for reading!


10 reasons to support International Volunteer Managers Day and 10 ways to do it.

What is International Volunteer Managers Day (IVMD)? From the IVMD website:

“Universally, people recognise the contribution of volunteers - in sport, health, emergency services, faith communities and the environmental lobby fact volunteers are involved in just about every aspect of service delivery in all walks of life.

However, volunteering does not succeed in a vacuum. Behind this army of volunteers lies an equally dedicated group of individuals and agencies who are responsible for the coordination, support, training, administration and recruitment of the world's volunteers - skilled professionals who are adept at taking singular passion and turning it into effective action.

That is why we celebrate International Volunteer Managers Day every year on November 5.”

For years I have been an avid fan of this day. Here are my 10 reasons why people should support it

1. Volunteerism greatly benefits communities throughout the world. Behind man…

Leading to Inspire Volunteers by Glenn Searle

I am a keen student of leading to inspire others and had the wonderful opportunity to undertake research into the phenomenon, the results of which were published in a leadership journal. Recently, at the Australian Institute of Management, DJ & I had a chat about inspiration in the context of leading in the volunteer sector – hence the ‘guest’ post. As part of my research, I interviewed a leader who worked extensively with volunteers and employees. The leader had some interesting perspectives that might be of interest to you.
One of his first comments was, ‘for me, inspiring people is about helping them reach their goal and potential – to help them become what they have been created to be’. Incidentally he saw little difference between volunteer and paid workers in the context of reaching goals and potential. The ways he went about inspiring them were a little different. He proposed that people often become leaders because of their position at work and, consequently, people might…

Volunteering Australia: This is our Strawberries and Cream Moment!

I know, from the stats I record on this blog that readers come from all over the world. Indeed the US is the most popular base of readership. Thus I try to keep most blogs relevant to an international audience. And I do believe the issues and debates we have in volunteer management are most usually common international concerns. Through my networking and tweeting I have discovered that we share much. Which is great because we can share solutions and innovation as well.

I say all of this because when I speak of Volunteering Australia I don’t think readers of other nations should shut down and read another blog. Because what we say about our own industry bodies should be resonating across the globe.

Volunteering Australia had gone through major changes over the last few months.

I’ve had reason to Criticize VA in the past. Why?

• The lack of support for International Volunteer Managers Day

• My perceived view that they weren’t engaging with the Volunteer Management Sector

Also, as Pr…

Thursday Tip – #ttvolmgrs and follow Thoughtful Thursdays!

Join Volunteer Managers from across the globe every Thursday to participate in a weekly discussion and 'tweetchat', focusing specifically on the Volunteer Management issues of the day.
Follow @suevjones on to be notified of the weekly blog post or make sure you visit the blogs page there every Thursday to discover the weekly topic.
Next add your thoughts via twitter using the hash tag #ttvolmgrs and, if twitter isn't your thing - you can contribute via the comments section below the blog.

I have to admit that I have been slow off the mark in regards to twitter. It took me awhile to understand what # even meant!! But I have been observing #ttvolmgrs and the conversation can be enlightening, educational and fun too! See you there! Also a big shout out to those who are giving up their own time keeping it going!

Lets Tweet our admiration for all volunteers!

I so don’t want to be a naysayer.


It happens every four years. The Olympics come around. And again the Olympic volunteering movement has been fantastic! And I have already tweeted my admiration at the Game makers as they have been called. I think it’s been a wonderful PR exercise to give them this name.

Nothing I say in this post is against these volunteers for the Olympics. I did read in another blog that it’s easy for these people to volunteer. You are volunteering at a prestige event. You are one of 70,000 or so and there were hundreds of thousands who went for the event! You get a fancy uniform and recognition as an Olympic volunteer. Etc etc.

There is some anecdotal evidence that Olympic volunteers go on to do some other volunteering. And that is good too.

And it’s so so wonderful that there is a moment covered on international TV where volunteers are praised and applauded by a stadium of some 80 000 people and witnessed by millions on TV.

And we volunteer folk including…

DJs Thursday Tip: Communicate Inspire Communicate Inspire Communicate!

Keeping up communication with the volunteer team is essential in my opinion. Volunteers work on different days and different hours and it’s a challenge keeping them up to speed with organisational news and updates, new policies, great stories, etc. Here are some of my tips: ·Create a volunteers newsletter. Have it driven by volunteers! ·Create a volunteer email list with those volunteers who agree to be on one. ·Have a fantastic notice board where volunteers sign in ·Havea volunteer liaison committee which meets regularly with volunteer management and executive/board Keep the communication positive and inspiring. Tell the volunteering story. Share positive feedback and don’t be afraid to keep asking for volunteer feedback. Celebrate volunteering and communicate it. Keep in touch. Volunteers will appreciate it!

Telling the inspiring story of volunteering

Recently I presented at a conference on a volunteering program I manage. The presentation took out an award for innovative practice. The presentation was up against several other presentations on innovative practice in a hospital setting. It was, I noted, the only presentation on volunteers during the entire conference.

I still get nervous before presenting. It’s the same with my stage work. Sometimes I feel physically sick before walking out on stage. Once I am out there though the nerves settle. I feed off the audience. If for example I am in a stage comedy and there is no laughter after the first gag or joke and only a cough and the sound of a pin dropping then I know the night can be a struggle!

In some ways, the role of volunteer manager calls on us to be presenters. There is so much presenting we can be involved in. We present when we hold training and orientation for volunteers. We Present when we are talking to other managers about our roles. We present when we educate up a…

DJs Thursday Tip – Add volunteers to the staff orientation checklist!

Get staff educated on volunteers and volunteering from the Get Go.
If you have paid staff at your organisation how are you educating them about volunteers and volunteering? Here’s one tip. If you have regular staff orientation sessions make sure volunteering is on the agenda. Do a little presentation or workshop on volunteers at your organisation. Don’t just rattle of what volunteers do. Spend time on how their work contributes to your organisation and its people or clients. Talk on how your organisation values your volunteers (because it should right?) and how they as staff members can contribute to the ongoing recognition of volunteers.
Are you presenting on volunteers at staff orientation? If the answer is no, now is the time to act. If your next question is “why” then here are a few of my reasons
·First impressions last. Staff get to see that volunteers are important enough to be part of the orientation program ·Staff understand roles and responsibilities of volunteers ·Volunteers are…

DJs Thursday Tip - Turn your Volunteer Meeting into an event!

Thanks to a recommendation from a colleague I will attempt a regular feature on this Blog called DJs Thursday Tip! Today’s is - Turn your Volunteer Meeting into an event. Need to provide training updates or in-service? If you have volunteer meetings throughout the year my tip is to make them really interesting to attract the numbers. Meetings are great to update volunteers on new procedures and to update volunteers on training and changes within your organisation. One upon a time, many moons ago my volunteer meetings were run like a committee meeting. It bored the pants of many and numbers were low. I then decided to run meetings that included all the material of the “Boring” meeting and dressed it up with exciting additions. I included guest speakers. Sometimes speakers who had nothing to do with volunteerism but who had something interesting to say to 100 plus people! I incorporated some educational entertainment – YouTube videos, Trivia questions, Workshops etc. I worked hard on makin…

A Mouthful of Volunteer Management!

Well I joined AAMov recently. Now there’s a mouthful. Every time I say AAMov people say Goodbye. I think that they think I am saying “I’m off”. For those of you outside Australia AAMov is the Australasian Association of Managers of Volunteers. It’s a good thing they use only one letter O in the abbreviation and not both. AAOMOV sounds even a bit more tricky. People might say “Bless you” after you utter the word. I explained the above for those of you outside Australia and New Zealand. However at a recent network of volunteer managers and coordinators or coordinators and managers of volunteers which ever title takes your fancy, few had heard of AAMov which doesn't surprise me given the recent change. So I did my first good act for AAMov and explained to everyone that the Australasian Association of Managers of Volunteers or AAMov was once known as the Australasian Association of Volunteer Administrators or AAVA. Some people then went “Ah, AAVA” ! Tricky business this abbreviation th…

Part of the journey that needs more attention!

What, as managers or coordinators of volunteers sets us aside from managers of paid staff? There are many differences and indeed many similarities. In fact I’ve often championed the belief that in terms of management we simply have to adopt similar processes, systems and styles. But managing volunteers does have its different flavours without a shadow of a doubt. It encompasses a different skill set and it embraces different philosophies. As a writer on matters Volunteerism and Volunteer Management I am interested to know why certain subject matter remains a little taboo in Volunteer Management. And I speak of ageing, dementia and death. Google ageing, dementia and death in Volunteerism and see how you go. You will get plenty of references to volunteers who contribute in many caring ways to support those undergoing ageing, dementia and death. But where is the discussion, writing or workshops on Ageing dementia and death in volunteering? Maybe I am missing it. Would love a few pointers if…

Part of the Journey

What, as managers or coordinators of volunteers sets us aside from managers of paid staff. There are many differences and indeed many similarities. In fact I’ve often championed the belief that in terms of management we simply have to adopt similar processes, systems and styles. But managing volunteers does have its different flavours without a shadow of a doubt. It encompasses a different skill set and it embraces different philosophies. As a writer on matters volunteerism and Volunteer Management I am interested to know why certain subject matter remains a little taboo in Volunteer Management. And I speak of ageing, dementia and death. Google ageing, dementia and death in Volunteerism and see how you go. You will get plenty of references to volunteers who contribute in many caring ways to support those undergoing ageing, dementia and death. But where is the discussion, writing or workshops on Ageing dementia and death in volunteering. Maybe I am missing it. Would love a few pointers if…

POWER: When Volunteer Managers get together

Sharing a story here that may have an Australian context. But it is a story that can be applicable to an international audience of Volunteer Managers! I had a great experience last week. A productive network meeting with volunteer managers and coordinators. VPM Health Network is a group of Volunteer Managers from South East Queensland in Australia who meet every 2 months. All work in a health setting. I’ve been at many a meeting of this group over the years but our last meeting held a few days ago really stood out for me. One of the Volunteer managers (VMs) had a significant say on one of the topics we were discussing. After she had shared her view on a topic she said “I wouldn’t have spoken out a year ago, I would have said nothing in fact – it’s through belonging to the network that has given me the confidence to speak.” I was delighted to hear this. I’ve always championed strong networking and seen the value to VMs getting together to share experience and assist each other. And when…


Martin J Cowling, trainer, consultant and blogger on Volunteerism stated in a recent blog post about THE National Conference Volunteering Service in Chicago, Illinois, USA. recently

“The glaring absence for me, was the absolute non mention at any time of managers of volunteers”

It seems to be a global trend.

I recall attending a National Conference on volunteering. I remember in the opening address the CEO of the national body on volunteering making a long speech on volunteering. I remember deciding to count the amount of times ‘Volunteer management” was mentioned. As far as I recall I was on the board of the association of Volunteer Management at the time. That’s why it had a special meaning for me back then. My continued passion for the role of volunteer manager and its recognition is the reason I still talk about it today. I don’t think it got a mention that day. I remember saying to someone else attending that I couldn’…

GROW! 21 Modules for Volunteer Management Training

Over the last 12 months there has been some discussion on accreditation for the Volunteer Management sector and on the professionalization of Volunteer Management. In layman’s terms much of the discussion has been around what qualification people should have for entry into the field. Right now there is none. Despite our chatter within our echo chambers this remains the same. From my view I don’t feel much has been achieved as a result of some of the initiatives in VM circles as I don’t feel there was a great response to any online or website based forums or sites on the issue. One wonders where the lethargy stems from? But the reality remains that Volunteer Managers come from a variety of life experiences and I still see adds for the job that have the words “experience leading volunteers would be an advantage” as an afterthought. Not to mention the fact the “Mary from Finance” is still a popular choice to lead volunteers (see earlier post on Mary from Finance)

What is lacking beyond …