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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

15 Years and 15 reasons why International Volunteer Managers Day Matters.

November 5th marks the 15th year anniversary of IVMD. Personally I ask myself “where has that time gone?” its gone fast that’s for sure. They say time goes fast when you are busy. If that’s truly the case the life of a Volunteer Manager goes as fast as a rocket through space!

Here are 15 reasons why I think Volunteer Managers Day still matters

1.       It’s a day for society to pause and think about Volunteer Management. What is Volunteer Management? What does it encompass? If it attracts a few people across the globe that has no idea what Volunteer Management is about then it is doing its job. It adds to the narrative on Volunteer Management

2.       It helps highlight a sector that still has little recognition or understanding in society. Some will disagree with this point. Note the word “little”. Once there was no recognition and understanding of Volunteer Management in society. The fact that we have gotten to “little” is progress. Progress no matter how small is still progress.

3.       It is a day for us to get together and celebrate our profession. We are not gathering to set off fireworks and pat each other on the back. We are gathering to reflect on what we do and the difference we make.

4.       It’s a wonderful vehicle for education. It’s the one day when people ask us what IVMD is all about, where we can share the inspiring role that Volunteer Managers can and do play.

5.       It gives us the opportunity to engage with our own organizations. Our own organizations hopefully value volunteer effort. This is our opportunity to talk about what Volunteer Managers do and how they contribute to the success of volunteer programs. Of course we should be doing this all year round but it’s about having a day to really push a message through.

6.       It’s about Recognition. We can’t say “Recognition” is a dirty word especially when “Recognition” figures prominently in how we manage volunteer programs. For me recognition of effective Volunteer Management and recognition of volunteers are the same side of the coin!

7.       It advances the sector. I imagine that 90% of the population doesn’t see us as a sector. As IVMD grows that will decrease.

8.       It’s political! Sometimes we find it hard to engage with our community representative i.e. MPs, MEPs, TDs. Etc. IVMD gives us an excuse to engage. Today I tweeted a message about IVMD to my Prime Minister, the opposition leader and to my local MP where I work. The local MP has already retweeted.

9.       Social Media: 15 years ago Social Media was hardly used or existent in many forms. Today it is so easy to spread information on IVMD.  You can search for IVMD on Facebook where it has its own site. You can tweet about the day. You can blog. You can use the hashtag #ivmd14 and connect with leaders across the globe in seconds.

10.   It’s a day for Volunteer Management Awards! When I was president of the Australasian Association of Volunteer Administrators I gave birth to the idea of recognizing Volunteer Managers. Today AAMOV recognizes Volunteer Managers with its annual Volunteer Manager awards, something that has never been done before. Can you do the same in your country?

11.   It connects us with peak bodies for volunteering. Whether it is Volunteering Australia, Volunteering Canada, Volunteering Ireland or Volunteering Queensland and Volunteering New South Wales it give our peak bodies a platform for discussing Volunteer Management (hopefully) and if your own national or state volunteering body has no dialogue on those who manage volunteers it gives them the opportunity to explore and discuss what we do. It encourages you and them to engage!

12.   It gives Volunteer Managers around the globe an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the cause. The IVMD committee is always looking for new members and new innovative ideas. Join them. Make a difference globally!

13.   It can and should be directly linked to volunteers. It’s time to inform organizations that if you value volunteering you value effective Volunteer Management. Volunteers themselves should be harnessed to support IVMD. Volunteers should know about IVMD.

14.   It should be a vehicle for promotion with traditional media (as opposed to Social Media). Are there articles and letters in your local or national paper on Volunteer Management? If not can you make a contribution? Are there articles today on Pro Bono News, The Charity Channel, Third Sector , ABC, BBC, CNN, ITN, The Huffington Post etc. If there are not then we only have ourselves to blame. Utilize IVMD to write. If you don’t get Media attention write and write again and get more of your colleagues writing.

15.   Finally, it’s a day to say simply, Thank you. Thank you for choosing this profession or calling or whatever you choose to call it. Thanks for being there for volunteers. For leading them. For coordinating them. For creating programs where individuals can shine and inspire. For facilitating circumstances where people needs are met. For making a real difference to society. Thank you. Happy IVMD!

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