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!


  1. I love the example of Mary from Finance! I feel lucky that my volunteer coordination duties are my only responsibilities and not an add-on role. So many of my colleagues have to combine roles.

    Also, I just posted a link to this post at the Facebook page of Northwest Oregon Volunteer Administrators Association (NOVAA).

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment Liza and for sharing the link with NOVAA!


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