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Showing posts from 2013

Thank you Volunteers! (All year round!)

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What is there left to say about National Volunteer Weeks?


They come and go each year. In various countries at various times of the year. Here in Australia it’s next week. As a manager of volunteers it’s an exciting time for me. I am lucky. I work for an organisation that values volunteers all year round. And they do turn it on for Volunteers week. We have the ceremony, the entertainment, the recognition. The reflection on what a privilege it is to have so many talented and skillful people volunteering their time all year round. It’s a formal recognition.

And volunteers appreciate that! No doubt. But they appreciate it more when they know that their contribution is recognized all year round. After all volunteers just don’t volunteer for National Volunteer Week.

It’s good to see Media getting in on it. Channel Tens the project had a promo on TV tonight talking about their show next week and saying how they would be highlighting volunteering as it is National Volunteer Week. Well done…

On running out of Volunters!

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A recent newstory from ABC News Australia


"Meals on Wheels is warning that it is running out of volunteers to keep up with the demands of a rapidly ageing community.

The service is trying to recruit young people to fill its ranks, and says without new recruits it might not be able to continue in the long term.

Chief executive officer of Meals on Wheels NSW, Les MacDonald, says the organisation's volunteers are getting older.

"Unless we can replace them with younger generations of volunteers, we face the prospect of Meals on Wheels not being around in 10 to 15 years," he said.

"I think that would be a tragedy for the Australian community."


Running out of volunteers is never a nice headline to see. I passed by a charity thrift shop only recently to see a sign plastered on their shop front – “Volunteers needed urgently” Looks like another venture “running out of volunteers”

Sometimes it’s hard to find the answers. But sometimes maybe the right questions are not be…

IAVE - Lets Speak up so that they might speak to us!

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An opportunity for Volunteer Management to speak to IAVE


The 23rd IAVE World Volunteer Conference will be held in the Gold Coast, Australia, on September 17-20, 2014

What is the IAVE?

The International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) was founded in 1970 by a group of volunteers from around the world who saw in volunteering a means of making connections across countries and cultures. It has grown into a global network of volunteers, volunteer organisations, national representatives and volunteer centre’s, with members in over 70 countries, and in all world regions. The majority of IAVE members are in developing countries. IAVE is registered as a charity in the USA, in California, with By-Laws which set out the governing principles and procedures. IAVE has special consultative status with the UN ECOSOC Committee, and associate status with the UN Department of Public Information. It is a member of the UN Confederation of NGO’s, and has a strong working relationship with UN Volun…

Guest Blogger Aileen Pablo asks "why volunteer?"

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“Service to a just cause rewards the worker with more real happiness and satisfaction than any other venture of life.” - Carrie Chapman Catt, American Women's Rights Activist




People often tout the altruistic nature of volunteering. It’s because we care for our fellow man. Because we believe in the societal benefits that occur when everyone lifts up those around them.



Forget that. You can be as selfish as you want and still get a lot out of volunteering!



Obviously I’m being a bit facetious, because no one who gives up their time to help others should ever be labeled selfish, but it is absolutely true that oftentimes the people volunteering feel like they are getting as much out of it – if not more – than those they are supposedly helping. Why? Here are some of the most common reasons I’ve heard.



Knowledge. Volunteering can teach you things about the world that you didn’t even know you didn’t know, whether the experience happens on another continent or right in your backyard. You m…

National Volunteer WEAK!

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National Volunteer Weeks come and go around the globe around this time of year. Particularly in the States, Canada, Ireland, England, Australia and New Zealand.

It’s a week to celebrate and promote volunteering…

To me it seems to be an occasion where we celebrate “our lovely volunteers” and employ the language of paternalism and fluffiness.

Volunteering is not lovely. It is real and important. For Volunteer Managers, this is a week where we promote the service our organisations volunteers provide.

If it is a week where time and thought is given to volunteering and volunteers are simply forgotten about for the rest of the year then it will have served no purpose at all. Great organisations value and recognise volunteering all year round. Great organisations resource Volunteer Management and recognise the vital link between effective Volunteer Management and effective Volunteer Programs.

An effective and articulate Volunteer Management profession recognizes the opportunity to promo…

Do we inspire people to change their lives, willingly and for good?

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I’ve been thinking a bit lately about the way organisations advertise for Volunteer Managers. To me Volunteer Management can be an inspiring and dynamic profession and I don’t think this comes across when organisations look for their next Volunteer Manager. It should. When they list the desired qualities for the prospective VM I’ve rarely seen Inspiration or Leadership mentioned. Very often I've read “experience managing volunteers desirable but not necessary”


I recently came across a one page ad in the newspaper for the Shannon Company seeking people. What drew me to the ad was their large headline that read “We inspire people to change their lives, willingly and for good” It made me think about Volunteer Management.

The ad from the specialist behaviour-change consultancy went on to list the qualities they were seeking and I list them all here. Because again, it got me thinking about Volunteer Management. Imagine an ad that listed these qualities in their search for a great VM.

Volunteer Management will be defunct in 5 to 7 years!

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I agree with the train of thought that exists that states there should be no careerists in the volunteering sector. Put quite simply organisations would save money if they didn’t have to pay volunteer managers. We need to come to the realizations that volunteers, in all cases and settings can manage themselves. The management of volunteers in organisations should be farmed out to HR to take care of the Recruitment and to Staff Development to look after training needs. Technology over the next few years will render Volunteer Management defunct as savvy volunteers manage themselves through technology, Volunteer Managers be gone!


Now please pick your jaw off the floor. The above are statements I used in a debate at the Australasian Retreat for Advanced Volunteer Management held in Sydney over the last weekend. This was part of the “Great Debate “segment. Volunteer Managers were broken into different teams and asked to take on debate argument in the cons and pros! No choice! It was a gre…

What do you do? I enable happiness!

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Anyone who manages or coordinates volunteers will understand what I mean about the “Profession Conversation Stopper” It’s that conversation at a social event or around a barbeque where people ask you what you do for a living. Ive lost count of the blank looks, the befuddled facial expressions and the “right...Let’s quickly move on to the next question” look. Because let’s face it…ours is a profession that is still in 2013 pretty unknown and unheard of. Especially outside of our echo chambers.


It has rarely really bothered me. In fact sometimes I enjoy the reactions. In fact now I tend to have fun with it as in the following exchange which has actually occurred,

“So what do you do?”

“I manage Volunteer programs”

“That’s nice”….(moment of silence)..Do you get paid?”

“No…I have a money tree in my back yard and luckily that produces enough to pay my mortgage and the bills”

Blank look. Slight nervous giggle. Person moves away slowly and latches on to another!

Seriously though Ive often h…