Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Add on Volunteer Manager and Mary from Finance

I recently came across a person who spoke of volunteer management being added to their existing role. They spoke of the difficulty they were encountering having discovered how busy a role volunteer management can be. They were already in a part time role and felt that they needed more hours now to properly give time to volunteers.

I don’t doubt it can be done and I am sure there are examples where people hold another title and coordinating volunteers has been added to their roles and it works fine! But I have met too many who are struggling with the add on. It may be that their current role is too busy as it is.
In some talks that I have given to groups in the past I speak about a fictional character called “Mary from Finance.” Mary is a lovely lady. But Mary got to coordinate volunteers because she is so lovely. You can imagine the organisational discussion.

“Volunteers would be lovely for our organisation. “

“But who should we get to coordinate them?”

“What about Mary from Finance Department?”

“Yes she is lovely – she would be ideal to look after the vollies”

As well as her full time role as an admin officer in Finance!

If it works it works but the anecdotal evidence Ive seen says that it does not always.

Would HR management be given to Peter from the Supply Department as an add on role?

Would project management be given to Andrea the front receptionist as an add on role?

Would Marketing management be give to Sam the gardener as an add on role?

Some of you reading may be doing your volunteer management role as an add on to your full time role.

If it works for you please share the secret of your success. And rememeber I am only speaking out for those who are finding themselves naturally overwhelmed!

For those of you struggling and who may need more hours to manage the volunteer program especially, it may be time to educate your organisation on volunteers. Very often some decisions are made because of a lack of understanding on volunteerism and what it entails. Very often people don’t even understand how to value volunteers in an organisation. They may need your help.

Develop a presentation or a business case for why volunteer management stands alone as a role.

Call on a volunteer coordinator in your locality and ask them what their job entails.

Seek out position descriptions for volunteer managers and coordinators.

Contact volunteer management networks for support and advice.

Write to the professional association for volunteer managers in your country if you have one for guidance.

Join online networks.

Educate your organization on volunteer management. Ask for the opportunity to present to them when you have collated as much info as you can on effective volunteer programs.

In another conversation I was having with a colleague recently I stated that organisations needed to realise how privileged they were to have people who were willing to donate time to them. How would they treat cash donors and how does this compare to how they would treat time donors?

It is my opinion that the greatest recognition an organization can give to their volunteers is the acknowledgment that effective volunteer management is of the utmost importance.

And giving Mary from Finance a break!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Make Art! Make Art! A tribute to the Volunteers in Arts

“Amazing that the human race has taken enough time out from thinking about food or sex to create the arts and sciences.”
Mason Cooley

“Fair play to those who dare to dream!” - Marketa Irglova

Tomorrow I am going to a second reading of a play that I have just been cast in. I am a member of a theatrical group in Redlands in Brisbane Australia. I return to the boards after a year and a half break. I am excited and nervous. I’ve been cast as Roy in the play Cosi. This play is known to many Aussies as it was made into a movie years ago. Google Cosi play or movie to learn more if you haven’t heard about it.
I’ve been acting since I was 12! In amateur theatre groups and also for a time full time! But mostly as a volunteer! Hollywood has yet to discover me but I have been recognised by my peers in amateur theater! I never give up hope of that Oscar award!

As I sat with my group recently reading the play it got me thinking about how volunteers in the arts contribute to society and how we fail to recognise this important cog in the wheel of volunteerism.

I think that it is a pity that many people, who perform in the arts area don’t consider themselves to be volunteers and the people who enjoy their service don’t see them as volunteers. But volunteers they are in my opinion.

Is it because we often perceive volunteers to be people who are helping those who need a hand or assisting those who need companionship and support etc.

The UN Definition Of Volunteering

“There are three key defining characteristics of volunteering.

First the activity should not be undertaken primarily for financial reward

Second, the activity should be undertaken voluntarily, according to an individual’s own free-will

Third, the activity should be of benefit to someone other than the volunteer, or to society at large,
although it is recognised that volunteering brings significant benefit to the volunteer as well.”

Volunteering in the arts falls into all of these categories. What joy do the arts bring to the community? How many people attend plays put on by volunteers in many nations for example. How many people leave these performances enriched, happy, uplifted and touched!

Is this not what it’s all about? The sheer pleasure and joy that can be brought to a fellow human being through art??

I propose that this area is a neglected if not forgotten aspect of volunteerism!

I should know. One year I filled out a survey that asked if I had participated as a volunteer in the previous 12 months. I said no! Even though I was acting with a community theatre for those 12 months! How many people do the same year in and year out!

The two most important things I love about acting are:

•Feeding off the audience - only a performer will get this – it’s that feeling that you have when you have the audience in the palm of your hand – knowing that they believe in your character absolutely – knowing that they have entered that world where reality is suspended and they have bought into who you are in the performance! It may be an ego thing but that is a must in performing! The knowledge that you have performed!

•The joy that people get! The joy in faces as they leave the theatre. Arts mean joy!

I speak of the acting volunteers! But I also speak out for the volunteers who sing their rock or jazz or blues. I speak for the artists who volunteer their drawings. I speak for the artists who volunteer their writings, prose and poetry.

I speak for the amateur drama groups around the globe. Embrace your volunteers and recognise the important work that they do!

…So, take what's inside you and make big, bold choices. And for those who can't speak for themselves, use bold voices. And make friends and love well, bring art to this place. And make this world better for the whole human race.
-- Jamie Lee Curtis

“Make art! Make Art!” Glen Hansard on receiving his Oscar for best song for the movie “Once” 2007 Academy awards

And Ive attached that magical moment here!Just click on this blogs heading!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

SHARING: What’s on your mind in Volunteer Management?

Here’s something a little different for my blog. An invitation to you. What would you like me to write about?

This idea came to me one night after I wrote a blog on Volunteer Management networking. And it was reinforced to me when I looked at which blog was the most popular and read blog on my blog website. A lot of people began reading my entry on networking and an awful lot of people were reading my “thank you speech for volunteers”. In my professional career I consider myself to have been successful. I have a track record to prove this. I fell into volunteer management, learnt the ropes in basics and have been learning ever since. 15 years later I am still enjoying volunteer management thoroughly. And I think this is the key to ones success. If you can absolutely love you job after 15 years then you must be doing something right! I have always been a “sharer”.

If I’ve leant something along the way I have always been keen to share it with those within my field. I have always been a keen fan of networking and mentoring. I have spent a lot of time sitting down with other volunteer managers and coordinators sharing my experience. I have shared a lot of my time over the years sharing tips or strategies. I have always found it hard to say no to a colleague seeking help or advice.

One of the people I continue to look up to is Jayne Cravens. Why? Jayne shares. Jayne’s blog is one of the best free resources in volunteerism and community engagement for knowledge advice and tips IMHO! Yes she is also a consultant and I recommend her to any organsiation that wants a true professionals approach to engaging volunteers in terms of management and social media! Jayne happens to live in 2022 by the way. So there are people out there who are great at sharing!

My own humble blog has been a wonderful eye opener since I started writing it 2 years ago. Close on 62,000 page views. 254 published posts!
But what would you like me to talk about? If you have a question I am happy to answer it with a blog. Whether it be “how to recruit’ or “how to interview a volunteer” to “how to effect change in my program” to “how to position myself as a volunteer manager” I am more than happy to consider your question for a blog post.

Why do I consider myself successful in Volunteer management? It’s simple really. It need not be about the books I have written (None!) It isn’t about the conferences I have presented at or the articles I have had published (there are a few). I consider myself successful because I have been in the sector for 15 years and still have a passion for what I do. I have built volunteer programs wherever I have worked and I have measured my success by the smiles and feedback I receive not the numbers of volunteers I have recruited (Though there has been many). You won’t get academic research here. You don’t get a guy who has travelled the world talking about his view on Volunteer management. You won’t get someone calling himself an expert. What you will get is someone talking your language. Someone who had had years of experience in Volunteer management but someone who is not restricted by “old thought”. You will get someone who is still keen to share their tips on Volunteer Management. You will get someone who is interested in your personal growth in the field. Why? I see it as volunteering my time if I can attempt to answer some of your questions.

All you need do is reply to this post or email the address on this website. I will endeavor to answer as many questions as I can. Over to you.



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