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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Repetitive signals going to Volunteers on Mars


I’ve been writing on Volunteer Management for some 15 months now. I’ve been a Volunteer Manager for 14 years. Hard to believe that after all this time I’ve only discovered on the world wide web some definitions on Volunteer Management and some tips as well!

My enlightenment comes from Idealists.org. I’m not too sure how long this piece or page for Volunteer Management has been there

Let me share some of what I have found. My commentary will be in brackets
What is Volunteer Management?

“Volunteer management is, at its core, selecting and supervising volunteers. Yet it is also much more than that. (Phew…I am so glad you added this part) Volunteer management is a key position in the leveraging of an organization’s resources, on par with fundraising/development and human resources. (Kinda, I would have said on par with any management position in your organisation)

Volunteer management is the gateway to the community, providing citizens with opportunities to become more involved in local issues and global causes, and serving as a grassroots source of public relations and marketing. Volunteer management ensures that there is community buy-in of an organization’s mission, thereby strengthening an organization’s credibility in the eyes of the public.

Volunteer management is the guardian of well-being, for volunteers and constituents, and for the organizations involving them. ( I really like this last line but feel it should be explained in more detail)

An eloquent narrative of the responsibilities of volunteer management professionals, the Universal Declaration on the Profession of Leading and Managing Volunteers, can be found on the Volunteer Canada website. (The What?? First I’ve heard of this)”


Ok then – let’s take a look at this Universal Declaration.

When I clicked on the link it informed me that “Page was not found”
So I googled Universal Declaration on the Profession of Leading and Managing Volunteers

So this is something that was developed in 2001 by the International Working Group on the Profession Convened by the Association for Volunteer Administration Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2001


Here it is. (again my commentary will be in brackets)


"Value and Contribution of Directors of Volunteers

*The phrase Directors of Volunteers applies equally to terms like administrators, managers, coordinators and directors of volunteers. For this declaration, the term “Director of Volunteers” was selected to represent these many terms.

Directors of Volunteers promote change, solve problems, and meet human needs by mobilizing and managing volunteers for the greatest possible impact.

Directors of Volunteers aspire to:

act in accordance with high professional standards.

build commitment to a shared vision and mission.

develop and match volunteer talents, motivations, time availability and differing contributions with satisfying opportunities.

guide volunteers to success in actions that are meaningful to both the individual and the cause they serve.

help develop and enhance an organizing framework for volunteering (sounds good so far!)

Role

Directors of Volunteers mobilize and support volunteers to engage in effective action that addresses specified needs.

As Directors of Volunteers we strive to:

be innovative agents for change and progress.
be passionate advocates for volunteering. (and Volunteer Managers??)
welcome diverse contributions and ideas.
develop trusting and positive work environments in which volunteers and other resources are effectively engaged and empowered.
ensure the safety and security of volunteers. (Huh?- isn’t this part of any organisational responsibility?)
develop networks and facilitate partnerships to achieve desired results.
be guided by, and committed to the goals and ideals of the cause/mission towards which we are working and to continually expand our knowledge and skills.
communicate sensitively and accurately the context, rationale, and purpose of the work we are doing.
learn from volunteers and others in order to improve the quality of our work. (would love them to expand on what this means)

Core Beliefs

As Directors of Volunteers, we hold these beliefs and seek to demonstrate them in our actions:

We believe in the potential of people to make a difference.
We believe in volunteering and its value to individuals and society.
We believe that change and progress are possible.
We believe that diversity in views and in voluntary contribution enriches our effort.
We believe that tolerance and trust are fundamental to volunteering.
We believe in the value of individual and collective action.
We believe in the substantial added value represented by the effective planning, resourcing and management of volunteers.


The complexity of the problems the world faces reaffirms the power of volunteering as a way to mobilize people to address those challenges.
In order for volunteering to have the greatest impact and to be as inclusive as possible, it must be well planned, adequately resourced and effectively managed. This is the responsibility of Directors of Volunteers. ( er..no. Isn’t this the responsibility of organisations???)

They are most effective when their work is recognized and supported.(They can be and more often than not are effective without support and recognition... it should state that they should be recognisesd and supported!)

Therefore, we call on leaders in:
Non governmental and civil society organizations, to make volunteering integral to achieving their missions and to elevate the role of volunteer directors within the organization

Government at all levels, to invest in the sustainable development of high quality volunteer leadership and to model excellence in the management of volunteers

Business and the private sector, to understand the importance of volunteer management and to assist volunteer-involving organizations in developing this capacity

Funders and donors, to support the commitment of resources to build the capacity of volunteer management

Education, to provide opportunities for leaders of volunteers to continually expand their knowledge and skills

(they should have added: Peak bodies for volunteering, local, state, national and international to support the commitment of resources to build the capacity of volunteer management)

We call upon Directors of Volunteers worldwide to accept this Declaration, to integrate and embody it in our shared work, and to promote and encourage its adoption.

While we recognize that all countries in the world do not approach volunteer development in the same way, this Declaration is intended to encourage all those concerned with the advancement of this profession, to aspire to these statements.

Developed by the International Working Group on the Profession
Convened by the Association for Volunteer Administration Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2001

With representation from: Argentina, Bangladesh, Canada, England, Hungary, Israel, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Scotland, United States
(where was the UK, Australia and others back then?)

So there it is. How many of you in Volunteer Management have even seen this. Whatever has become of this declaration? From what I can see the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA) still adheres to the principals of this declaration.

As for the declaration itself I have some thoughts.

Much of what is said is great. But I bet that many in our sector have never heard of it. Or indeed heard of AVA. But my real concern here is that any advancement or progress in our sector seems to be cyclical. I am basing this thought process on anecdotal evidence. It seems to me that we seem to be making great strides once in every 10 years. And by great strides I mean an ability to have great dreams and aspirations.

If all of this was happening in 2001 then we have not progressed much at all. Indeed I reflected on this in a blog of mine on the examinations of Hot Topics by eminent writers in our sector over the last 10 years. In my blog I stated that we tended to be revisiting our issues cyclically. You know the debating points du jour right now:

Definitions of volunteering
What should our titles be?
Credentialing of volunteering
Creating a strong profession
Why are we ignored by other management?

It makes for great reading on blogs and journals. It makes for more interesting workshops and presentations to Conferences on volunteering. It fills the gaps there.

But can we not see the sign or message coming through?

We are still stuck on the same issues after too many years. Where is the evidence of progress in our sector? I am talking about progress for the sector nationally and internationally. I say this to deflect the “ Oh there is good stuff happening at a local level here” brigade. I get that and praise that. But tell me why I fear I could be reading the same old hot topics in 10 years!

HOT TOPIC 2021 – “Volunteer Managers – Is everyone happy with this title?”

HOT TOPIC 2021 – What is the definition of a volunteer? – discuss for another 10 years!

HOT TOPIC 2021 – Why don’t Executive get me?

HOT TOPIC 2021 – Volunteer Managers Versus Time Management

To those who will say “what are the solutions DJ” I say read all my blog postings please. Part of the solution is in self realization. The ability to see there is a problem here. Followed by the ability to form groups who recognise this and act.

There are so many people new to our profession and you may be one of them.

New to the Hot Topic of the day

New to universal declarations

New to some of the issues of the sector

Let’s hope you grasp some of these issues and take positive action to change our way of being.

Because in 2021 our sector needs to be just that - a sector – one that has gained the confidence to be strong and heard and I certainly don’t want to be blogging on the same old stuff to our sector on earth and other planets who may or may not have come in contact with. Are there volunteers on Mars?! Now that’s a true Universal thought!






Thursday, August 25, 2011

A blog snapshot


There is a bit of fun in being a blogger. Indeed, if it were devoid of fun I wouldn’t be doing it. And sometimes it has felt that way , albeit briefly. I am fascinated by who is reading what and where they are coming from. To me, the snapshot of volunteerism and those who manage volunteers can be encapsulated in the little blog that I write.

I have to give thanks to two companies that enable me to look at what is happening with my blog - Statcounter and Blogger

Statcounter is A free yet reliable invisible web tracker, highly configurable hit counter and real-time detailed web stats. StatCounter is a web traffic analysis tool. Access to basic services is free and advanced services can cost between $9 and $119 a month The company is based in Dublin.

I love their work!

Blogger is a blog-publishing service that allows private or multi-user blogs with time-stamped entries. It was created by Pyra Labs, which was bought by Google in 2003. Generally, the blogs are hosted by Google at a subdomain of blogspot.com. Up until May 1, 2010 Blogger allowed users to publish blogs on other hosts, via FTP. All such blogs had (or still have) to be moved to Google's own servers, with domains other than blogspot.com allowed via Custom URLs. In July of 2011 a news outlet announced that Google intends to change the name of the service from "Blogger" to "Google Blogs," as part of a larger plan to re-brand or retire all non-Google brands in its portfolio of products and services.

Ok now that the free plug is over I can get back to my point

Thus far I have had close to 20,000 individual readers in 15 months.

Here’s what I can determine about Volunteer Management based on what people are reading on this blog.

We have a huge sense of humour! We like jokes about volunteers and volunteer management or we are seeking out such humour! Volunteer Management Jokes a blog posted in August 2010 is still the most popular blog. Maybe we need some light relief every now and then!


On a serious note though we are very interested in the notion of leadership in Volunteer Management. My blog on Leadership in Volunteer Management posted in 2010 is the second most read blog and consistently gets views every day!

Thank you speeches for volunteers comes a close third. Many people are seeking guidance or appropriate words in their recognition of volunteers.

My next most popular post is in fact by a guest blogger. Coming in at number 4 is a piece on change management by Volunteer Coordinator Wendy Moore from Brisbane Australia. Wendy has obviously identified an area where Volunteer Managers are seeking guidance on!

I’ll just stick to the top 5 for brevity sake but its interesting to note that the 5th most read post is an article of mine titled “What’s holding us back”

I think it’s significant that out of just under 220 postings on this blog that this one hits the top five. It tells me that people are interested. It tells me that Volunteer Managers do care about the following:

“Do we have an embedded subliminal fear that our jobs are not “real” because we manage a movement that is unpaid – and thus devalued? Would a psychological analysis reveal some real fears on job security, career authenticity and a predisposition to not rock the boat at any cost?
Do we keep our heads down so we aren’t really noticed and thus keep our positions? Do we therefore have problem putting up boundaries. Do too many of us take on too much, with too little resources? We try to do it all, and then wonder why we aren't provided with the resources, pay, etc.
We won't be until we demand it by saying "No", I cannot do this without additional resources.Our jobs create and add enormous value to our societies. Let us stop being afraid to acknowledge that. Let us cease being fearful of validating ourselves and our profession.”

You Go you people reading this blog post!!!

My biggest audience comes from the United States with about 38% of viewers coming from there followed by Australia, Canada UK and then……Russia!
And of course I am happy to speak on Volunteer Management in any of those beautiful countries!!! LOL
And finally to end this blog, What are the key words that people enter on search engines that result in them finding my blog? This is for the last few days!

thank you speech for volunteers 240


volunteer jokes 163


volunteer thank you speech 96


thank you speech to volunteers 87


dj cronin 67


thank you speeches to volunteers 57


leadership 39


good news 38


volunteer thank you speeches 35



I hope you have enjoyed reading some of these stats!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

40,000 Thanks


This blog recently passed 40,000 page views.

I have to say I am humbled by this figure. After all this blog is just the musing of a Volunteer Manager on matters pertaining to our volunteerism sector. And its just been going for 15 months.

So I’ve nothing to gain or lose from the amount of visitors. If I had reached 400 views after the same amount of time I’d probably be posting this blog in a similar vein.

I do this blogging for a number of reasons but have to admit that I do it primarily because I enjoy writing. My passion for Volunteer Management therefore is a direct beneficiary of this enjoyment!

I continue to remain blown away that 18,300 individual people around the globe have read some of my blogs!

Its takes a lot for people to respond to postings. I realise this now. So I salute those who respond to posts. But I also salute those of you who read my musings on Volunteer Management and Volunteerism.

Thanks for being part of my journey.

DJ

Acim4me@live.com

A Tasty Dish in Volunteer Management Part 1

The Tasty Volunteer Manager: Volunteer Management Master Chef – Part One


Yep it’s been done the death in many areas but here I will attempt to cook my very own successful and effective Volunteer Management dish using ingredients I have used over the years. It’s based on personal experience. You may not like the taste and you may have different ingredients. Fair enough – After all we choose the cookbooks or chefs we feel work best for us. This has worked for me. Enjoy!

Take one person

Add

Niceness

Some of you may and will baulk at this already. Some will frown on this ingredient immediately. Many of our sector will resist the word “nice” because of perceived negative connotations in regards to volunteering. I get that. Nothing worse than an organisation thinking volunteers are “nice but not necessary” for example. And how many of you when asked your occupation get the delayed response of “that’s nice”. It sounds a little condescending but maybe it’s not such a bad thing in today’s world.

Someone said once that nice guys finish last. Perhaps that’s why there are so few men in Volunteer Management! I say that with a wink a nudge. After all to counter this Addison Walker said “It's not true that nice guys finish last. Nice guys are winners before the game even starts.”

In this day and age is niceness an attribute that is valued at the workplace? It should be in Volunteer Management.

“Oh what do you mean by nice” people will say. Of course.

I have to spell it out because some people will say I can be a great professional…but I don’t have to be nice.

Not in our profession I say.

Nice is made up of a few ingredients. This is handy for our MasterChef – having one ingredient made up of many

Nice consists of :
Courtesy
Empathy
Gentleness
Compassion
Friendliness
Patience
Tolerance

There you have it. My definition of Nice. My first ingredient. If it’s not in our dish then I believe the dish will end up with a foul taste! And I have heard of this taste anecdotally!

Our next ingredient will be advanced communication skills

Come back here for the next blog to see how that tastes!

Here’s a preview

“Advanced can be a word loosely used these days. However the communication skills of a Volunteer Manager need to be highly developed in my opinion in order to deal with a wide range of stakeholders critical to the success of any effective Volunteer program. It’s amazing the amount of people we need to be dealing and communicating with effectively – often far more than any other management profession. If we don’t include this ingredient – our dish is in serious trouble!”

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It makes perfect senses yes? How you see Volunteer Management is how you see Volunteers?


Do you give credence to this statement?

Sue Hine in a response to one of my blogs lately stated “Why do so many of us undervalue the work we do, and thereby the work of volunteers??”

Do you make that connection? Can it be possible if we don’t value our own roles that we don’t value the role of volunteers?

Who can this question pertain to?

Volunteer Managers?

Surely not, Surely the one and only truism in our sector is the value we place on volunteers? If this is not the case then our management sector has no hope. No future. True?

Organisations?

Those that value volunteers value Volunteer Management right? Makes sense yes? Take out the value in one and you erase the value in the other. Right?
Peak bodies on volunteering?

They celebrate volunteerism thus they celebrate effective Volunteer Management right? Makes sense to me. They do this by celebrating IVMD, by having Volunteer Management people on their boards, by taking an active interest in our sector by consultation, by inviting Volunteer Managers on their networks, by inviting them to write on their websites and journals, by having them involved in their national and international conferences and by engaging with Volunteer Managers on their blogs and social media.
All of this is happening yes? No?

I have to pose this question to the “person from peak body” who may be reading? Is this happening? Yes? No? I mean…you do value volunteers don’t you?

Associations on Volunteer Management?

What are you doing here on this list? Of course you value volunteers. Its evident from your support of Volunteer Management. I mean..That’s what you do isn’t it? Support Volunteer Management...by

advocacy..Education..Networking…politics etc. etc. etc. And you are holding peak bodies for volunteering and organisations and government to account aren’t you? For example those who exalt volunteerism are exalting volunteer management as well and you are on top of that to make sure this is so yes?

So there. It’s really all ok I am sure. We all value volunteers don’t we? And by extension…Volunteer Management?

As they say in Australia

No worries.





Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fantastic insights into Volunteer Management


I’ve had some fantastic replies to my 10 questions on Volunteer Management. All are published here and I’ve had quite a few comments to my email as well that are unpublished as requested. Whatever one may say about the questions themselves there does seem to be a chord that is being struck! And I thank everyone who has responded thus far!

I talk about a narrative in Volunteer Management. What do I mean?

Wikipedia says – “For general purposes in semiotics and literary theory, a "narrative" is a story or part of a story. It may be spoken, written or imagined, and it will have one or more points of view representing some or all of the participants or observers. In stories told orally, there is a person telling the story, a narrator whom the audience can see and/or hear, who adds layers of meaning to the text non-verbally. The narrator also has the opportunity to monitor the audience's response to the story and modify the manner of the telling to clarify content or enhance listener interest. This is distinguishable from the written form in which the author must gauge the readers' likely reactions when they are decoding the text and make a final choice of words in the hope of achieving the desired response.

Whatever the form, the content may concern real-world people and events; this is termed "personal experience narrative".

Someone asked me today if there was a deadline to submitting responses?

No. There is no deadline. There will never be a deadline to the exploration on our sector!

Please remember that you can answer anonymously!

And please remember that I am just a Volunteer Manager asking questions on Volunteer Management!

Let’s keep the discussion going on acim4me@live.com


Friday, August 12, 2011

10 more insights



Wendy Moore is a Volunteer Coordinator in Brisbane, Australia. She has a background in many fields including IT, administration, sales and marketing.

1.In 20 words or less describe/define Volunteer Management

Volunteer Management involves the creative, development of programs which utilize the skills of volunteers to meet a community need.

2.What are the 3 main differences between Volunteer Management and Human Resource Management?

Managing volunteers is different from managing paid staff because their motivation is different. Volunteer Managers need to have
•Flexibility to include into programs, volunteers with differing levels of commitment.
•Adaptability to change within a dynamic and unpredictable environment.
•Emotional energy to support and encourage volunteers.

3.Where is the current leadership evident in Volunteer Management?

There are leaders of Volunteer Management around the globe who share their knowledge and insights on websites, blogs and forums. There are others who have yet to find their voice. Perhaps fear is holding them back; fear of “the tall poppy syndrome”, fear of change or fear of criticism.

4.Finish this sentence in less than 50 words… An association in Volunteer Management should…
advocate for volunteer management by promoting, educating and lobbying governments, organisations and communities. They should seek out opportunities to promote volunteer management and forge relationships with organisations which could build and support volunteer management. They need to be fiscally responsible in achieving these objectives.

5.There have been many debates on the definition of volunteering itself. How would you define volunteering?

Volunteering is an individual’s choice to freely give their time and skills, without expectation of reward, to meet a community need.

6.If you weren’t doing this what other profession would you have been interested in?

Perhaps something creative like Marketing, Promotions, Visual Merchandising or Event Management.

7.Who do you believe has been the most inspiring volunteer in history?

Fred Hollows:- for seeing a need and setting up a program to train others to continue with his work to bring sight to people, in poor communities, who would otherwise remain blind.

8.Where do you think social media can take volunteerism and Volunteer Management?

“…..to boldly go where no one has gone before.”
Social media can take volunteerism and Volunteer Management to anywhere around the globe where there is internet connection. It provides a communication pathway which is unprecedented. Social media is only the conduit providing the communication. The message we wish to communicate is up to us.

9.Does Government get volunteering? If not why not?

No. While governments recognise volunteer contribution, it is important for governments to go beyond that, by understanding that volunteering doesn’t just happen. Volunteering requires good management and coordination of resources so that volunteers are utilized appropriately.

10.What would you like to achieve personally in the volunteerism world?

I would like to educate people about the role that volunteer management plays in valuing, supporting, coordinating and appreciating the contribution of volunteers.

10 answers from Sue Hine.


Sue Hine, from New Zealand has been been engaged with community organisations for more than 40 years, as a trainer, facilitator and clinical supervisor, and a volunteer in all sorts of roles. Sue is an independent advocate and also a member of the Managing Volunteers Development Project, sponsored by Volunteering NZ.

Sue informs me that she has been reading too much political philosophy this year, but manages to keep in touch with management of volunteers through tutoring and mentoring individuals and groups.

Now over to Sue!


Each question deserves a full-blown research thesis. I am very reluctant to confine 'management of volunteers' into neat sound-bytes or 50-word statements. We deserve more, and we need to do more than achieve a once-over-lightly item on the news agenda. I understand your motivation to get a narrative on volunteering and management of volunteers going, but I am not confident your methodology will achieve your intentions.

In my irregular following of international news-groups I find the conversation pertains more often to local issues and to questions on basic practice in management of volunteers. It is at this local level that we should be making the plugs, promoting good practice, finding education pathways for managers of volunteers, getting organisations and government to understand and appreciate volunteer know-how and can-do. We cannot go global before we get local.

So - with all that in mind I submit my responses to your questions.


1. In 20 words or less describe/define Volunteer Management
Enabling those who donate their time, their knowledge and skills and their energy in contributing to organisation goals and/or community services to find personal satisfaction and rewards for their efforts.

[This is an attempt to be inclusive of the divergent streams of community altruism, corporate volunteering, community sentencing and work-experience volunteering, et al. But corporate volunteers still get paid for their efforts… is there a way out of this bind?]

2. What are the 3 main differences between Volunteer Management and Human Resource Management?
• Flexibility in job placement
• Creating a role to fit the person not the other way round
• Freedom to ‘experiment’ with new ways of doing things
Vs : Paid staff are hired for specific purposes – along with application of employment contracts and practices; and too often HR has a place at executive team level while management of volunteers is relegated to lower orders.

3. Where is the current leadership evident in Volunteer Management?
Leadership is evident in many different ways in different organisations at local and national levels. If the question is about leadership of the profession there can be no claim to global leadership until we can reconcile differences in socio-political cultures and service delivery. At present Management of Volunteers is a fractionated discipline.

4. Finish this sentence in less than 50 words… An association in volunteer management should…
• Be the mover and shaker for the occupation;
• Represent and advocate for the profession at government level, with organisations (collectively and separately) and with corporate and philanthropic donors;
• Be an independent voice, collectively, and for individuals
• Be a central point for dissemination of information; resources; research

5. There have been many debates on the definition of volunteering itself. How would you define volunteering?
Undertaking work tasks at no cost to the organisation.

[Again, I am trying to ‘keep it simple’. This statement sounds awfully mercenary, yet it includes the different avenues of volunteer involvement, and avoids the interminable debates on ‘compulsory’ volunteering and being paid for your time as a corporate employee. However, we need to acknowledge somewhere that “Volunteers do not come for free”, and identify costs such as a manager’s salary and expenses related to training, recognition functions, travel reimbursement etc.]

6. If you weren’t doing this what other profession would you have been interested in?
Pass – I am single-minded on Management of Volunteers.

7. Who do you believe has been the most inspiring volunteer in history?
Not a fair question, because I might be forgetting important bits of history. If a manager of volunteers is doing their job they will be inspired every day by the willingness and enthusiasm of the volunteers that come their way.

8. Where do you think social media can take volunteerism and volunteer management?
Not very far. Yes, social media is a tool for recruitment and communication for volunteers and their managers (as evidenced from experience of the Christchurch earthquake and Queensland floods). But there is still a lot of grunt stuff to do. Getting volunteering and management of volunteers on the map requires research, writing, and a bit more communication and political activism than a few shorthand phrases on Twitter and Facebook.

9. Does Government get volunteering? If not why not?
Yes, of course Government ‘gets’ volunteering: it’s the next best thing in provision of community services, all that safety net welfare stuff! “We can do it on the cheap, and draw in the corporates and philanthropic institutions to help us do more with less.” Translation: The government does not fully appreciate the goodwill that goes into community services and volunteer involvement. We have become more of a convenient political tool. Right now I think we are experiencing a phase of exploiting the community sector and volunteers – most evident in UK’s Big Society policies. I think it is happening in New Zealand too.

10. What would you like to achieve personally in the volunteerism world?
To foot it as an equal at the table of the public and private sector policy determinations.

This ambition is a bit late in the day for me, yet I see it as vitally important for future development of social and community services. When Civil Society gets subsumed (really, ‘consumed’) by the other two power-brokers then the voice of volunteers is drowned, along with the spirit of volunteering and the ethos of community development. Not to mention the business of democracy and human rights and all that. Right now a concerted voice needs to be raised from community organisations along with their managers of volunteers.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

A view from Warrington and Volunteer Management Champions!


Hi DJ,

I have responded to your 10 questions as below, and am also encouraging my Volunteer Management Champions (VMC) group to respond individually – it might take a week or two though as lots of people are on leave currently here!

Liked this piece a lot and it really got me thinking, so well done for asking such insightful questions. The idea behind the VMC work is to encourage some new and different voices from the field of VM, in order to add to the existing leaders, writers and speakers out there such as yourself. I do believe that the more VMs that contribute to the debates – especially those who are really doing it, because it’s a long time since I managed volunteers directly and my role as a trainer and coach is as an enabler – the more we can raise the profile of the role and really make a noise about the important stuff.

We are running a series of webinars to link with this work and as part of the European Year of Volunteering 2011 which you may have seen advertised via i-volunteer – (Rob J is hosting the first one on 17th August), and one of the themes will be to look at a kind of Volunteer Management manifesto – asking VMs what do you want? From support, from a national association, from each other, from the policy makers etc. I am aiming to encourage more thought and reflection about this stuff and for VMs to lead the discussion themselves with a view to feeding into the report I need to do at the end of this piece of work, but also to link with AVM here and to keep pushing these issues to the forefront.


1.In 20 words or less describe/define Volunteer Management

Balancing the needs of the organisation with the needs of the individual volunteer to create a harmonious and quality experience through effective leadership.

2.What are the 3 main differences between Volunteer Management and Human Resource Management?

The need to be continuously creative and work without a clearly defined legal framework. The basic fact that you are not dealing with paid staff, so in a sense- anything could happen.

3.Where is the current leadership evident in Volunteer Management?

I believe there are high profile examples internationally where there are individual trailblazers - writers, speakers and trainers etc who are inspirational in the way they seek to challenge and educate the VM community and volunteer involving organisations. There are also pockets of truly amazing leadership demonstrated across a wide range of organisations, usually which is unrecognised, even by those who are delivering it.

4.Finish this sentence in less than 50 words… An association in volunteer management should…

Listen, encourage, advocate, consult. Widen its reach and really understand what it means to represent those it seeks to. To ask insightful questions of itself, it's members and the policy makers of the day.

5.There have been many debates on the definition of volunteering itself. How would you define volunteering?

Giving time because you choose to, to something which provides a wider social or community benefit and which is important to you.

6.If you weren’t doing this what other profession would you have been interested in?

Dancer, actor, cake maker, milliner, stay at home mum.


7.Who do you believe has been the most inspiring volunteer in history?

I have absolutely no idea. I meet lots of inspirational people - usually they are the ones who don't realise it. Perhaps those who sometimes come back to the volunteer centre years after that initial 'match' and they tell you what they have achieved in their life as a result, how it made them feel and the impact the experience had on them and others.

8.Where do you think social media can take volunteerism and volunteer management?

If grasped positively and with a little thought as opposed to assumption, I believe it can connect the profession, both internationally and locally to develop a strong, clear, passionate voice so it can state what it wants and needs in a way that will be noticed. As a tool, it simply enhances and extends our reach to connect, to access resources and should enable individuals to feel supported and that they are part of something bigger and truly valuable.

9.Does Government get volunteering? If not why not?

Sometimes, but then they do what governments do and try and make things fit with their agenda instead of asking- what's working already? What needs to change? And, how can we help rather than hinder?

10.What would you like to achieve personally in the volunteerism world?

As a trainer and coach, I am here to support individuals to realise their potential and to support them to become the leaders in this field.


Sue Jones

Training Manager
Warrington
UK

Friday, August 5, 2011

The dialogue continues on the 10 questions – thanks Lynn!


Lynne Dalton is the CEO of the Centre of Volunteering in New South Wales Australia

Lynne has over 25 years experience in the community sector. Most recently Lynne worked with the NSW Department of Family Services and Community Services on capacity building projects. Between 1983 and 1995 Lynne was the Director of the Community Action Network Ltd, a non-profit organisation providing community services in areas such as Children, Family Support, Volunteering, Youth Services, Disability Services, and Multi-Cultural Services. Lynne holds a degree in Social Science and was previously a Board member of The Centre for eight years.


Here are Lynnes responses to my "great 10 questions" on volunteerism.


1.In 20 words or less describe/define Volunteer Management

Volunteer Management is the overt acknowledgement of the intrinsic value of volunteers to an organisation.

2.What are the 3 main differences between Volunteer Management and Human Resource Management?

•Recognising and therefore compensating for the lack of rights of volunteers in the workplace.
•Understanding and responding to the different motivations of volunteers and paid staff
•The need for VMs to acknowledge Human Resource Development as vital aspect of managing volunteers effectively.

3.Where is the current leadership evident in Volunteer Management?

Actions of individuals appears only to classified as leadership if acknowledged by those with power and/or influence. The failure of “authorities” to value or understand the worth of the volunteer sector to the global economy and to global social capital results in few if any volunteers activists being considered “leaders” at a national/international level. Whilst those in the sector recognise leaders, very few others in the world show them the same respect.

4.Finish this sentence in less than 50 words… An association in volunteer management should…

……examine closely its purpose and motivation, establish robust objectives and then got for it.

5.There have been many debates on the definition of volunteering itself. How would you define volunteering?

Volunteering is Social Inclusion in practice.

6.If you weren’t doing this what other profession would you have been interested in?

Singing (but I’d probably starve to death!!) then politics.

7.Who do you believe has been the most inspiring volunteer in history?

Aung San Suu Kyi– she has volunteered to put her life on hold for her country.

8.Where do you think social media can take volunteerism and volunteer management?

I think Social Media can be seen as both a boon and a barrier to communication. We have to make sure that we don’t become too isolated from human contact. Remember a large percentage of effective human communication is through body language. Bit hard to see via the internet or I-phone!!

9.Does Government get volunteering? If not why not?

No. If they did they would invest in it more. There has been heaps of research showing its value (Productivity Commission Report, 2009) and a large number of research activities showing the health benefits to individuals. But Governments still see the sector as a conveniently cheap option for services delivery rather than another option for professional service delivery.

10.What would you like to achieve personally in the volunteerism world?

Having volunteers recognised through legislation as a valid sector of the workforce who have the right to be treated with respect and dignity.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

John Ramsey Continues the narrative on the "10 great questions"



John Ramsey is a Volunteer Manager and has served as the Chair of the Association of Volunteer Managers, Head of Volunteering at Citizens Advice , Chief Executive at Student Volunteering England and Head of Information at Student Volunteering England.

Here is his reponse to the "10 great questions"


1. In 20 words or less describe/define Volunteer Management


Getting the best out of volunteers for our beneficiaries, our organisation, our community and our volunteers

2.What are the 3 main differences between Volunteer Management and Human Resource Management?

Legally – at least in England. Volunteers have no definition within employment legislation therefore there has been plenty of case-law about how you separate volunteers from employees.

Culturally – Volunteer Management requires a different mind-set to paid staff management. It is easy to be a lazy or incompetent manager of paid staff as people need jobs. A lazy or incompetent Volunteer Manager will quickly find they have few volunteers.

Operationally – the above two mean there should be a different framework for managing volunteers. For many reasons, paid staff sit within quite a prescriptive management framework. Volunteers should sit within the opposite, a fluid and flexible system that is much more focussed on meeting the needs of volunteers rather than those of the employer or the needs of legislation.


3. Where is the current leadership evident in Volunteer Management?


On the positive side, volunteer management in England has definitely moved up the political agenda in the last five years. It was not so long ago that it was never mentioned when talk moved on to volunteering. That is rarely the case now. And that is down to the likes of Association of Volunteer Managers, Volunteering England and a few vocal individuals.

However, we are missing two key ingredients.

Firstly a coherent discourse on the vision for volunteer management. And secondly a failure of individual leadership. Every volunteer manager has a responsibility to lead on volunteer management, whether that is in their organisations, their community, regionally or nationally. Failing to do so means we are failing both are own volunteers and are own beneficiaries.

But where is this mass rising up of volunteer managers demanding that they be listened to, demanding that they be involved? Apart from the odd voice, it is deafening by its silence.

4.Finish this sentence in less than 50 words… An association in volunteer management should…

…not be afraid.


5.There have been many debates on the definition of volunteering itself. How would you define volunteering?

Away from the more mundane ‘proper’ definitions: An expression of freedom to help your community be a better place.

6.If you weren’t doing this what other profession would you have been interested in?

Bread-maker perhaps. Or a sportsman – although I rather lack the talent, the dedication and the drive.

7.Who do you believe has been the most inspiring volunteer in history?


No-one comes to mind. One of our problems is that inspirational, successful volunteers are rarely celebrated as volunteers.

8.Where do you think social media can take volunteerism and volunteer management?

Down a blind alley, if we’re not careful. When you spend your working day on the internet, using emails, linked in to social media etc, it’s easy to forget many people don’t. It should be seen as one of many tools to develop volunteerism and volunteer management, nothing more, nothing less.

9.Does Government get volunteering? If not why not?


From an England perspective - yes and no. Without wishing to get too political, I think the principles behind the Big Society agenda do show an understanding of the role volunteering plays in the community but this has not been bought into at either national or local levels. I think a few individual members of Government understand the full power of volunteering but this has yet to be translated into meaningful action.

Why not? For the same reason that organisations don’t fully buy into volunteering. We, the volunteering sector, are failing to show that volunteering works in the way we say it does. We live in hard-pressed times when pragmatic decisions are being made every day. If we are saying volunteering is part of the answer without robust evidence to show that, it takes a very brave or a very crazy person to commit substantial time and resources into it. And to be honest, I don’t particularly want my government to spend its limited amount of cash on every scheme that comes along simply because there’s the odd bit of research that says it’s wonderful.

What we need to be doing is, firstly as organisations providing robust proof on the impact of volunteering, and then as a sector bringing that all together to show the benefits it has on health, on behaviour, on community cohesion… on every topic under the sun. If we’re not prepared to do that then why should we be taken seriously? And the same applies to volunteer management.


10.What would you like to achieve personally in the volunteerism world?

Make a positive difference in developing volunteer management and improving the lives of older people (who I work with in my day job)

More Response to "The Great 10 Questions"




"Rob Jackson is one of the leading authorities on volunteering in the world. His standing is based on an impressive mix of the practical and strategic. For much of his career he has been involved at the coalface of volunteer management." - Dr Justin Davis Smith, Chief Executive,Volunteering England

In April 2011 Rob left Volunteering England and founded Rob Jackson Consulting.Rob has written, spoken and trained on volunteer programme management internationally for nearly twenty years.





1.In 20 words or less describe/define Volunteer Management


Volunteer leadership and management is about engaging and inspiring people to bring about change.

2.What are the 3 main differences between Volunteer Management and Human Resource Management?


HR management, in my experience, is largely about compliance, making sure managers and staff follow set policies & process. It is about ensuring a paid workforce is managed by the rules, reducing the risk and liability to an employer of being sued by disgruntled employees. In volunteer management there is an element of policy and process setting but there are key elements that don’t appear in HR management. These are leadership, empowerment and flexibility.

Leadership – setting and/or communicating a vision and inspiring people to work together towards its fulfilment. That’s not something I’ve ever come across in HR where managers tend to be so focused on making sure people play by the rules they often seem to forget what the game is.

Empowerment – encouraging and supporting people to use their skills, their talents, their experience, their abilities to the fulfilment of the vision. HR keeps people in their boxes, volunteer management encourages them to flourish and realise their potential.

Flexibility – processes and policies are important but they cannot prepare for every eventuality. Good volunteer management realises this and is prepared to be flexible where necessary. HR sees the rules as absolute.

If I can cheat and have a fourth thing it’d be passion. I’ve met many volunteer managers who are passionate about what they do but not many HR managers with the same passion.


3.Where is the current leadership evident in Volunteer Management?


There are great leaders in volunteer management in organisations all around the world, leading amazing volunteers who achieve marvellous things.

However, I suspect your questions is less aimed at an organisation level and more of a global level.

In which case I’d say that the leadership I see in volunteer management is twofold: that aimed at making what we do better; and that aimed at setting a vision for where we should be going as a field.

We have ‘professional’ bodies, peak bodies and individuals all playing a part in one or both of these areas of leadership.


4.Finish this sentence in less than 50 words… An association in volunteer management should…


…be independent; be an advocate for volunteer management; be vocal; work with and for its members; nurture talent and grow leaders for the future; represent the field.

5.There have been many debates on the definition of volunteering itself. How would you define volunteering?


I’ve always liked Ivan Scheier’s definition:

"Volunteering is doing more than you have to - because you want to - in a cause you consider good."

I like it because it defines volunteering from the perspective of the volunteer – if they think it is volunteering then who is to say that it isn’t?!

6.If you weren’t doing this what other profession would you have been interested in?



No idea.

7.Who do you believe has been the most inspiring volunteer in history?


The people who right this minute are giving their time out of a quiet conviction that things could be better and they will take some personal responsibility to make some change happen.

8.Where do you think social media can take volunteerism and volunteer management?


I think social media has lots to offer volunteerism but it is a tool. It has its place but it isn’t the magical solution to the challenges facing volunteerism in the 21st Century as some would have use believe. For example, it can help make it easier for people to find out about volunteering but it doesn’t help us create new or re-engineer existing volunteering opportunities that meets the needs of people when they decide to volunteer.

Where social media, and the internet more generally, has helped volunteer management is in making it easier for us all to connect. There is no reason for volunteer managers to feel isolated anymore because with the click of a mouse they can engage with peers across the globe to share problems, discuss solutions and build support networks.


9.Does Government get volunteering? If not why not?


Government as an entity, no. Why? Because government is made up of people. So what about people within government (elected officials and staff)? Well some do and some don’t. Why? The same reasons some people see what they do as volunteering and others don’t – backgrounds, belief, philosophy, experience etc..

10. What would you like to achieve personally in the volunteerism world?


I’d like to continue to make my living in this wonderful field, meeting new people, deepening existing friendships, contributing to our collective knowledge and experience, sharing my passion for volunteerism and learning from others along the way.

Monday, August 1, 2011

First Response to “The Great 10 Questions” – Martin J Cowling




A big thank you to Martin J Cowling CEO at People First Total Solutions for being the first to respond to my “great 10 questions” in Volunteer Management.

Martin is a Leading Consultant on People issues in the Community and Non Profit Sectors. Blogger, consultant, trainer and world traveler Martin has a passion for people, volunteerism and Volunteer Management.

1.In 20 words or less describe/define Volunteer Management

Volunteer management is the process of engaging members of the community in achieving a common mission.


2.What are the 3 main differences between Volunteer Management and Human Resource Management?

Volunteer Management needs to incorporate good HR practices along with community development and what I call an entrepreneurial view of the world. The error in imposing a solely HR model on volunteer management is that the fundamental relationship between employees and employer is legally, morally and socially different to that of a volunteer and an agency. However failing to see volunteers as part of your HR is also a grave error.

3.Where is the current leadership evident in Volunteer Management?

Globally or in Australia? Globally: NZ and Canada. In Australia..Volunteering Queensland, CFA Victoria.

4.Finish this sentence in less than 50 words… An association in volunteer management should…

support their members, advocate for their members, not try to do too much and not duplicate

5.There have been many debates on the definition of volunteering itself. How would you define volunteering?

A member of the community giving their time on an unpaid basis to further a community mission

6.If you weren’t doing this what other profession would you have been interested in?

space commander- serious, teacher,

7.Who do you believe has been the most inspiring volunteer in history?

Jesus

8.Where do you think social media can take volunteerism and volunteer management?

I do training on this!

9.Does Government get volunteering? If not why not?

Some elements do but most governments see volunteering in motherhood and or economic savings terms

10. What would you like to achieve personally in the volunteerism world?

Make a difference in the lives of others

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