Thursday, July 26, 2012

DJs Thursday Tip - Turn your Volunteer Meeting into an event!

Thanks to a recommendation from a colleague I will attempt a regular feature on this Blog called DJs Thursday Tip!
Today’s is - Turn your Volunteer Meeting into an event.
Need to provide training updates or in-service?
If you have volunteer meetings throughout the year my tip is to make them really interesting to attract the numbers. Meetings are great to update volunteers on new procedures and to update volunteers on training and changes within your organisation.
One upon a time, many moons ago my volunteer meetings were run like a committee meeting. It bored the pants of many and numbers were low. I then decided to run meetings that included all the material of the “Boring” meeting and dressed it up with exciting additions. I included guest speakers. Sometimes speakers who had nothing to do with volunteerism but who had something interesting to say to 100 plus people!
I incorporated some educational entertainment – YouTube videos, Trivia questions, Workshops etc. I worked hard on making meetings more participatory.
I invited volunteers to help set the agenda of meetings. And they did! I established quarterly meetings running 2 and half hours and now they are all very well attended. They’ve become events with a high standard! And so they should.
Volunteer meetings are very important to the success of your volunteer program
So my 5 tips for fab meetings is to make them
·         Fun
·         Educational
·         Partly based on volunteer suggestions
·         Interactive
·         Different! Every time!
Now there’s a challenge for you every time!

A Mouthful of Volunteer Management!

Well I joined AAMov recently. Now there’s a mouthful. Every time I say AAMov people say Goodbye. I think that they think I am saying “I’m off”. For those of you outside Australia AAMov is the Australasian Association of Managers of Volunteers. It’s a good thing they use only one letter O in the abbreviation and not both. AAOMOV sounds even a bit more tricky. People might say “Bless you” after you utter the word.
I explained the above for those of you outside Australia and New Zealand. However at a recent network of volunteer managers and coordinators or coordinators and managers of volunteers which ever title takes your fancy, few had heard of AAMov which doesn't surprise me given the recent change. So I did my first good act for AAMov and explained to everyone that the Australasian Association of Managers of Volunteers or AAMov was once known as the Australasian Association of Volunteer Administrators or AAVA. Some people then went “Ah, AAVA” !
Tricky business this abbreviation thing. I remember in Ireland when they introduced a new Train system in Dublin they called it the D.A.R.T. It stands for Dublin Area Rapid Transport. Cork gave some thought to calling theirs CART.  A town called Fermoy however drew a line in the sand on that one.
In the UK they have the simple AVM which is the Association of Volunteer Managers. The “Manager of Volunteers” philosophy espoused by some hasn’t quite reached the northern hemisphere yet! If it does I suggest they go with MOVA so not to confuse themselves with AAMov.
It’s a tricky one and I can’t see any way around the mouthfuls really. So I will just continue to inform people I come across in the sector about these groups. It’s the work that we do that is more important than words after all.
For those of you interested in Joining AAMoV  - http://www.aava.asn.au/


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Part of the journey that needs more attention!

What, as managers or coordinators of volunteers sets us aside from managers of paid staff? There are many differences and indeed many similarities. In fact I’ve often championed the belief that in terms of management we simply have to adopt similar processes, systems and styles. But managing volunteers does have its different flavours without a shadow of a doubt. It encompasses a different skill set and it embraces different philosophies.
As a writer on matters Volunteerism and Volunteer Management I am interested to know why certain subject matter remains a little taboo in Volunteer Management. And I speak of ageing, dementia and death.
Google ageing, dementia and death in Volunteerism and see how you go. You will get plenty of references to volunteers who contribute in many caring ways to support those undergoing ageing, dementia and death.
But where is the discussion, writing or workshops on Ageing dementia and death in volunteering? Maybe I am missing it. Would love a few pointers if I am.
Although there have been significant lifestyle changes due to the Global Financial Crisis there has traditionally been a retirement age for people in the workplace. Not so in the Volunteering workplace. In fact for many decades a large percentage of the volunteering workforce has been drawn from the retired workforce. And it has been great and a real benefit to society.
But how are we dealing with the associated challenges this can cause?
Let’s compare a HR Manager to a Volunteer Manager in relation to these matters.
The HR Manager generally does not worry about a person’s capacity to do the task safely because of age i.e. they are generally not required to determine if an 87 year old can continue doing the task. Volunteer managers do.
The HR Manager has less chance, I dare suggest, of managing a person with dementia.
People die. A HR manager will attend the funeral of their staff normally in tragic circumstances. Funerals may be par for the course during the year for a manager of volunteers with an ageing population.
These are huge differences in the management of people. I’ve seen far too little dialogue on the issue. Yet I’ve heard individual managers broach the question often.
I’ve often written topic matter on our sector gaining the recognition it deserves. But I also want to write on topics in our sector that deserve more attention.
And this topic does. For 2 major reasons:
1.       Volunteering encompasses all ages. We need to value the effort that comes from the 16 year old to the 98 year old! While it seems so hip these days to study why youth is volunteering and to come up with strategies on how we can encourage  and manage youth volunteering we will do ourselves a disservice if we neglect study into volunteering amongst the older generation.
2.       The Volunteer Management sector has a unique opportunity to show how it provides leadership in managing people of all ages! This can rarely be said of other management sectors.
I’ve been to volunteer funerals. They have all been deeply touching. Their volunteering experience has always been a part of the story. I have shed many a tear.
But how do we all deal with grief? We need more dialogue on this subject too.
To be the best leaders we can be in volunteer management we need to be able to deal with ageing, dementia, death and dying! And we need to be able to look after ourselves!
We may find that hard to talk about but it’s part of our journey.

Part of the Journey

What, as managers or coordinators of volunteers sets us aside from managers of paid staff. There are many differences and indeed many similarities. In fact I’ve often championed the belief that in terms of management we simply have to adopt similar processes, systems and styles. But managing volunteers does have its different flavours without a shadow of a doubt. It encompasses a different skill set and it embraces different philosophies.
As a writer on matters volunteerism and Volunteer Management I am interested to know why certain subject matter remains a little taboo in Volunteer Management. And I speak of ageing, dementia and death.
Google ageing, dementia and death in Volunteerism and see how you go. You will get plenty of references to volunteers who contribute in many caring ways to support those undergoing ageing, dementia and death.
But where is the discussion, writing or workshops on Ageing dementia and death in volunteering. Maybe I am missing it. Would love a few pointers if I am.
Although there have been significant lifestyle changes due to the Global Financial Crisis there has traditionally been a retirement age for people in the workplace. Not so in the Volunteering workplace. In fact for many decades a large percentage of the volunteering workforce has been drawn from the retired workforce. And it has been great and a real benefit to society.
But how are we dealing with the associated challenges this can cause?
Let’s compare a HR Manager to a Volunteer Manager in relation to these matters
·         The HR Manager generally does not worry about a person’s capacity to do the task safely because of age i.e. they are generally not required to determine if an 87 year old can continue doing the task. Volunteer managers do.
·          The HR Manager has less chance, I dare suggest, of managing a person with dementia.
·         People die. A HR manager will attend the funeral of their staff normally in tragic circumstances. Funerals may be par for the course during the year for a manager of volunteers with an ageing population.
These are huge differences in the management of people. I’ve seen far too little dialogue on the issue. Yet I’ve heard individual managers broach the question often.
I’ve often written topic matter on our sector gaining the recognition it deserves. But I also want to write on topics in our sector that deserve more attention.
And this topic does. For 2 major reasons:

1.       Volunteering encompasses all ages. We need to value the effort that comes from the 16 year old to the 98 year old! While it seems so hip these days to study why youth is volunteering and to come up with strategies on how we can encourage  and manage youth volunteering we will do ourselves a disservice if we neglect study into volunteering amongst the older generation.

2.       The Volunteer Management sector has a unique opportunity to show how it provides leadership in managing people of all ages! This can rarely be said of other management sectors.I’ve been to volunteer funerals. They have all been deeply touching. Their volunteering experience has always been a part of the story. I have shed many a tear.

But how do we all deal with grief? We need more dialogue on this subject too.

To be the best leaders we can be in volunteer management we need to be able to deal with ageing, dementia, death and dying! And we need to be able to look after ourselves!

We may find that hard to talk about but it’s part of our journey.

Friday, July 6, 2012

POWER: When Volunteer Managers get together


Sharing a story here that may have an Australian context. But it is a story that can be applicable to an international audience of Volunteer Managers!
I had a great experience last week. A productive network meeting with volunteer managers and coordinators. VPM Health Network is a group of Volunteer Managers from South East Queensland in Australia who meet every 2 months. All work in a health setting. I’ve been at many a meeting of this group over the years but our last meeting held a few days ago really stood out for me.
One of the Volunteer managers (VMs) had a significant say on one of the topics we were discussing. After she had shared her view on a topic she said “I wouldn’t have spoken out a year ago, I would have said nothing in fact – it’s through belonging to the network that has given me the confidence to speak.” I was delighted to hear this. I’ve always championed strong networking and seen the value to VMs getting together to share experience and assist each other. And when someone else at the meeting said “That’s exactly how I feel – I would never have said a word at these meetings and I’ve learned through all of you” I felt so encouraged on the power of networking.
Please know that my quotes are not word perfect but it lead to the best network meeting I have been at for many a year. We had a meeting of 17 volunteer managers talking about the issues we all face in the workplace and discussing the state of volunteering in Australia and engaging in a discussion on the future direction of our own state body Volunteering Queensland and our National body  Volunteering Australia!
Neither group had a member present. But we did have a guest speaker from Volunteering Gold Coast promoting the great work this organisation is doing. They were also witness to some feedback on the other two groups.
This got me thinking. State and national bodies on volunteering must get more active in engaging people who are on the ground as far as volunteering is concerned.
They can no longer await a written or emailed invitation to address networks of Volunteer Management. They in fact should be proactive in engaging all stakeholders in Volunteerism. No longer should Volunteer Management be asking for a place at the table. The place at the table for VM should already be booked by a forward thinking state or national body on volunteering.
Small gestures like stating support for International Volunteer Managers Day are too easy. While important there must be a follow up. The follow up is engaging the Volunteer Management sector in meaningful ways.
What sort of ways?
How about these 2
The board of Volunteering Australia and all state bodies including a member of AAMOV (the Australasian Association of Volunteer Managers)
A national conference on volunteering that recognises Volunteer management! There has never been one to date IMHO! Shame!
With so much change happening in relation to funding of volunteer centres in Australia now is the time for Volunteer Management to be speaking its voice loudly. We have opportunities here.
A meeting of 17 local volunteer managers inspired this blog post. When I asked them if they had heard of AAMOV one of them had. One!  AAMOV is the Australasian Association of Managers of Volunteers. When I said AAVA around 7 had. (the previous name of the group which was the Australasian Association of Volunteer Administrators) But none were members. I told them I had put in an application to rejoin. At the next meeting I hope to give out some brochures.
Because I think that now, more than ever, because of great changes in volunteerism and in the thinking on such matters that Volunteer Management has a huge opportunity to finally guide direction and thinking in the great movement that is volunteering. And about time too.
Let’s find our power!

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