Friday, July 6, 2012

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 someone else at the meeting said “That’s exactly how I feel – I would never have said a word at these meetings and I’ve learned through all of you” I felt so encouraged on the power of networking.
Please know that my quotes are not word perfect but it lead to the best network meeting I have been at for many a year. We had a meeting of 17 volunteer managers talking about the issues we all face in the workplace and discussing the state of volunteering in Australia and engaging in a discussion on the future direction of our own state body Volunteering Queensland and our National body  Volunteering Australia!
Neither group had a member present. But we did have a guest speaker from Volunteering Gold Coast promoting the great work this organisation is doing. They were also witness to some feedback on the other two groups.
This got me thinking. State and national bodies on volunteering must get more active in engaging people who are on the ground as far as volunteering is concerned.
They can no longer await a written or emailed invitation to address networks of Volunteer Management. They in fact should be proactive in engaging all stakeholders in Volunteerism. No longer should Volunteer Management be asking for a place at the table. The place at the table for VM should already be booked by a forward thinking state or national body on volunteering.
Small gestures like stating support for International Volunteer Managers Day are too easy. While important there must be a follow up. The follow up is engaging the Volunteer Management sector in meaningful ways.
What sort of ways?
How about these 2
The board of Volunteering Australia and all state bodies including a member of AAMOV (the Australasian Association of Volunteer Managers)
A national conference on volunteering that recognises Volunteer management! There has never been one to date IMHO! Shame!
With so much change happening in relation to funding of volunteer centres in Australia now is the time for Volunteer Management to be speaking its voice loudly. We have opportunities here.
A meeting of 17 local volunteer managers inspired this blog post. When I asked them if they had heard of AAMOV one of them had. One!  AAMOV is the Australasian Association of Managers of Volunteers. When I said AAVA around 7 had. (the previous name of the group which was the Australasian Association of Volunteer Administrators) But none were members. I told them I had put in an application to rejoin. At the next meeting I hope to give out some brochures.
Because I think that now, more than ever, because of great changes in volunteerism and in the thinking on such matters that Volunteer Management has a huge opportunity to finally guide direction and thinking in the great movement that is volunteering. And about time too.
Let’s find our power!

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