I've been involved with volunteering now as a volunteer and volunteer manager for almost 35 years! As the year draws to an end I like to look at the state of volunteering. This year I am not greatly comforted by what I see but there are hopeful signs.
The big topic that I think that will define volunteering in 2015 will be the definition of volunteering
The definition of Volunteering
“Volunteering is an activity performed in the not for profit sector only.” This is part of the definition of volunteering by Volunteering Australia. This definition is wrong. It is an insult to thousands of volunteers in Australia who still volunteer for organizations that have been privatized such as hospitals, nursing homes etc. and it even questions publicly owned institutions like organizations owned by government.
I was recently at the IAVE conference on volunteering also known as the world conference on volunteering. I participated in a great workshop on the “definition of volunteering” I believed that I had something to contribute because I heard that VA was exploring the definition of volunteering. I gave my number and contact details. What do I get? No call. No email. Nothing. If you want to discuss definitions of volunteering folks please talk to people who sit outside your so called definitions and scope of practice! Get out of your echo chambers! If you want to stick with your archaic definitions that is fine...as long as you talk with others with diverse views.
I think that organizations like Volunteering Tasmania and Volunteering Queensland are leading the field! I base this on their thinking, their websites and their people. Volunteering NSW is up there with them. In fact most of the state bodies seem to be up there with the times while VA still suffers from an old fashioned image in my view.
I am a Volunteer Manager. An individual. I have a blog. That is it. Volunteer manager associations (VMAs) should be involved in this talk. The problem with VMAs is that they have no narrative. Especially in Australia. I won’t have this blog published on the AAMOV site as it will exist outside their echo chamber. As a blogger who has close to a quarter million page views it’s pretty poor when your own association won’t even link to you. But there is a lot of politics in play in Volunteer Management believe it or not.
The year ahead can be an opportunity for volunteering and volunteer management. I say this every year. But the reason I have returned to blogging this year is to call a spade a spade. In the past I was chased away from speaking my thoughts by some personal attacks. Not criticism or disagreement. I can always argue the point. Volunteering and volunteer management needs a voice. Right now there’s not much volume to that voice. I aim to be a voice once more. Because right now Volunteering doesn’t even know what it is according to our peak body and our body representing out volunteer mangers is fairly toothless!
This will only change by the expression of these sentiments!
Thanks for following my blog and have a wonderful 2015!