Volunteer Management will be defunct in 5 to 7 years!

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 great experience. I had to argue for the above headline statement and even though the arguments go against ever fiber in my body,I and my colleagues in the debate team did enough to fight for a draw in the debate.

Thus begins my Review of the Retreat 2013. Held at the Sydney Central Mercure it attracted close to 40 people. This year’s theme was “Volunteer Management: a time for leadership”

And about time too. For years my blog has advocated discussion on leadership in our sector.

This year the faculty had the usual good suspects – Andy Fryar and Martin Cowling along with first timer Sue Jones from the UK and Tony Goodrow from Canada as a guest presenter.

On day one Sue Jones set the scene by engaging us in discussion about leadership. She basically challenged us all to ask what exactly leadership was all about? Ive seen a lot about Sue Online. She seems to be doing so much great work in the UK leading the Volunteer Management Sector and her intelligence and humbleness came across to me on day one. Here was a great faculty choice I thought after her first presentation.

Highlights from the Retreat

• And Fryars session titled “Good Grief” was a session about how we deal with real people experiencing real issues every day. It talked about boundaries, Grief and life’s ups and downs. This was the main highlight for me. It should have been a plenary topic! I highly recommend all organisations involving volunteers booking Andy for this session alone!

• The support Circles: I had the most wonderful experience with 3 of my colleagues as we discussed our issues with seriousness and laughter combined!

• Sue Jones: Simply refreshing in her thoughts on leadership in our sector! She started off nervously but grew into her role with her passion for the sector and love of leadership potential!

• The amount of people who asked me if I was DJ Cronin the blogger!! The people who said they were there because of my blog!

• The great debate! Although in my view should have been the last item on the menu!

• The participation of people from Volunteering Tasmania and Volunteering Western Victoria!

• The venue and the food! – 9 out of 10!

• The Cruise – 10 out of 10!

Lowlights from the Retreat

• Some people said to me they would have liked an earlier start on day one and an earlier finish on final day. Wondering if the returnee lunch is a good idea to maintain?

• The fact that Volunteering Australia did not send a rep. Disappointing guys given that you are going through major changes and starting from scratch in so many ways. How about you begin the engage with the Volunteer Management sector? A rep here would have been a good start! Time to start thinking strategically and engage all your stakeholders!

• No mention of AAMOV (apart from a mention in the program). It would have been good to have someone speak about the fact that we have an association. I did talk about AAMOV to those I met!

Wrap up

A well organised Retreat, A great venue and an interesting faculty! What made it for me this year however were the Retreat delegates! They were open minded, keen to learn and open to new ideas. They also seemed to be very creative! I made many new great contacts and I would be interested in their own reviews of the retreat!

DJ Cronin Retreat score:

91 out of 100


  1. A brilliant Retreat. The highlights were Sue Jones challenging statements to get our heads around.
    “We have within us all of the resources we will ever need.” One delegate suggested that perhaps we had the resources but may not be aware that we had them.

    “What do you need to believe in order to realize your leadership potential?” Perhaps one answer to this statement is belief in ourselves and our potential to become leaders if we are not in fact leaders already.

    I too appreciated the frank and personal examples given by Andy to illustrate real issues in managing a diverse range of people in his topic "Good Grief".

    I really appreciated the openness and willingness of the delegates to expand their thinking. I enjoyed meeting many interesting like-minded people.

    Support Circles – a bit of a challenge coming up with topics.
    Totally beyond my comfort zone dancing and holding up placards for team shakers in the last segment. I do not want to see this on Youtube – I would die of embarrassment.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Wendy. I am currently asking for a video to be sent to me of the dancing so I can post to YouTube!!

  2. "The amount of people who asked me if I was DJ Cronin the blogger!! The people who said they were there because of my blog!"


    What's sad is that the comments in those first paragraph are exactly as I've heard them from people being completely serious - usually from the corporate sector.

    1. Thanks Jayne! Hope to see you at another Retreat someday...somewhere.....

  3. I received this email from Sharon who had soem problem posting here on the site.

    ‘The retreat was one of the most inspiring experiences that i have been involved in. Andy's session on grief was outstanding as was Sue Jones.

    I also found the support circles a thoroughly positive experience. The only suggestion I would put forward is to have more support circles throughout the period, I feel (4) not enough, and the possibility of starting earlier than 2pm on day 1 and finishing earlier to allow the travelers a safe journey without fatigue.

    I have not stopped recommending this retreat to friends and colleagues’

    Sharon Cox
    Volunteer Services Co-Ordinator


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