Appreciating Volunteer Managers
6 November 2006 at 1:48 pm
As the 1st of November marked International Volunteer Appreciation Day, Volunteering Australia says it’s time to appreciate the people who manage the volunteers right here at home.
Volunteering Australia says managing the volunteers who drive an organisation’s programs and activities or deliver its services is a skilled job.
According to VA’s deputy CEO Kylee Bates unfortunately, many Not for Profit organisations fail to recognise this and often overlook the level of knowledge and expertise required to manage what can be the largest component of an organisation’s workforce.
Bates says managers of volunteers frequently report not only that they feel personally undervalued, but that their position and program are taken for granted by the organisation.
While many managers of volunteers will be glad of acknowledgement given on International Volunteer Manager Appreciation Day, she says what most would really welcome is tangible recognition in the form of appropriate training, adequate budgets and a legitimate role in the organisational decision-making processes that affect their role and the volunteer program.
Savvy organisations are now realising what a central role the position notionally designated ‘manager of volunteers’ can play in the successful delivery of the organisation’s programs and services, and how much the position can contribute to the achievement of its goals.
Effective managers of volunteers must come to their roles with strong people management skills, the ability to think and plan strategically, project and program management skills, and importantly, good facilitation and negotiation skills so that they can influence the organisation’s ethos with respect to volunteers.
Bates says that just as organisations and managers of volunteers are urged through the National Standards for Involving Volunteers to aim for best practice in the way that they engage and work with volunteers, so too must Not for Profit organisations extend best practice to the way they treat the people responsible for managing volunteers.
She says like all employees, managers of volunteers need ongoing professional development. This could include specialised training, such as the recently developed qualifications for managers of volunteers or training in related fields reflecting the needs of the organisation, but also being able to participate in local, state or national networks and events where they can share knowledge and experiences with peers in other organisations.
Two national organisations have recently introduced positions specifically to work with their state-based managers of volunteers to strategically develop volunteering within their organisations.
Bates says that perhaps this shows that some organisations are starting to see the light and think about how they can really show their appreciation for the importance of the work that managers of volunteers do.