Volunteer managers often seem to lack confidence in what we do. We make the right noises in private, or in a group of other volunteer managers, but find it hard to really champion the cause of volunteering, even within our own organisations.
I firmly believe that we need to stand up and declare that we are the Experts in Volunteering in our own organisations.
(As an aside, I don’t much like the way that a London-based team has adopted this name. It implies that there is something difficult about volunteering that “ordinary” volunteer managers can’t cope with themselves.)
I’ve been delivering Volunteering England’s Influencing Up training session this morning and I was struck by the realisation that some (but by no means all) volunteer managers seem to lack confidence in their own skills and abilities. In fact, half the volunteer managers booked for this morning didn’t even turn up for the two-hour session!
If we are to get support for volunteering from the decision makers and budget holders in our organisation, WE have to make sure that they understand the value of what we do.
Most of us can say how many volunteers we have or how many hours they have volunteered for, but can we demonstrate what difference they have made. It’s up to US to prove that volunteering make a difference to our service users, to the service itself, to the community or to the volunteers themselves.
I’ve just read an excellent blog post by Australian volunteering guru Martin J Cowling about this topic. In fact, I’ve borrowed his own blog post title for this one. His post is on blog for the American National Conference on Volunteering And Service which is to be held in New Orleans during our own UK Volunteers Week in June. He has set himself four goals for his involvement in that conference and it’s interesting that he places boosting the confidence of volunteer managers at number 1:
As an AVMI facilitator, I have four goals:
- to affirm volunteer management leaders who can feel very isolated,
- to encourage managers of volunteers and the sector to value long term involvement. The 2008 Global Volunteer Management Survey found that 43 % of managers of volunteers have worked in volunteer management for less than five years and 20% less than two years,
- to provide teaching and knowledge at a level that is not always found in the wider conference (although I would like to see as much volunteer management material in the broader conference)
- to learn and listen to the issues in the sector
You can read the whole of Martin’s blog post here.