Saturday, March 31, 2018

So why does Volunteer Management need a voice?

This is a blog I am writing today for LinkedIn. I will share it on other platforms but will publish it first to LinkedIn.( and now on my blog!)
Why is that?
This is the Wikipedia definition of Linkedin “LinkedIn (/lɪŋkt.ɪn/) is a business- and employment-oriented service that operates via websites and mobile apps. Founded on December 28, 2002,[5] and launched on May 5, 2003,[6] it is mainly used for professional networking, including employers posting jobs and job seekers posting their CVs.”
I want to zone in on the professionals utilising this site to network. But how many people on this site consider Volunteer Management a profession? What constitutes a profession is really a blog for another day.
But for now, I can safely say that there are many Volunteer Managers on LinkedIn. They come under many titles. Manager, Coordinator, Administrator, engagement officer etc.
But guess what? There are many people managing volunteers as an addition to their regular role. For example there are Secretaries, Case workers, Counsellors, Community development workers, Youth workers and Admin officers etc. who have also been tasked with the role of “Looking after the volunteers” (a cringe worthy expression if I ever heard one but in reality exists!)
And I am confident that many of them do a great job managing volunteer’s day in and day out.
However my concern is around the support they receive because very often the fact that they manage this large resource is not factored in to the support they receive from their organisations whether that be professional development opportunity, resources and budgets. My evidence of this is largely anecdotal though some organisations such as Volunteer Pro  and AAMOV  are working hard to gauge the conditions and feelings of the Volunteer Management Profession.
We have some certificates and diplomas in Volunteer Management around the globe so some progress is being made. But the role of Volunteer Manager still seems to me to be undervalued, under resourced, under the radar and not treated as a profession.
I say this not as someone who necessarily is suffering the above but as someone who has worked in the industry for over 20 years and who is still hearing these stories from our sector.
There has been some talk lately about this being the Volunteer Management sectors own fault. We complain too much and don’t offer solutions. We are our own worst enemy. We don’t know what we want etc.
I want to call a halt to that Bull Poop.
For years and years we have been the people who facilitate the movement of people taking action in our communities. We have been the people managing, coordinating, rostering, helping, counselling and encouraging millions of people in our societies.
We love our roles and we know how volunteers act and think. We are on top of trends before they become trends. We are on the ground. We get volunteering!
And we silently standby when we see people come into our organisations with their multiple degrees who think they “know” volunteering, And we watch in amazement as policy on volunteering whether it be at an organisational, peak body or Government level is laid out without any consultation from the Volunteer Management Sector.
And this is why we need a voice. And this is why we need to speak up. The average volunteer manager or coordinator would be terrified today to speak up about these matters. It could cost them their job!
This is why we need strong Volunteer Management Associations.
In Australia we have AAMOV. I am proud to be a board member and a past president. But I can state that we are not strong. Why? We don’t have enough members. Yet!
People who work with volunteers need to see and understand what we stand for. Then they will invest because it means that they are investing in their own careers.
But here is a call out to other professions! We need you to support us too. And we want to collaborate with you. You may not have even realised that we existed. But we do. Share your knowledge with us on advancing and supporting a profession.
Who will be the voice when
·        Organisations under resource volunteer management
·        Underpay Volunteer Managers
·        Organisations decline Professional Development opportunities for Volunteer Managers
·        Volunteering Peak bodies don’t have Volunteer Managers on their boards or don’t support the VM Sector
And here is the crux of effective Volunteer Management. Effective Volunteer Management should be about professional Volunteer Managers who never stand for the exploitation or mistreatment of volunteers! We are not HR. We are VRM and its time we were supported!

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