September 25, 2011
To Market, To Market (2)
The challenge issued last week to managers of volunteers has not aroused a spirited defence. I am surprised, given the impetus and real progress the Volunteering New Zealand’s Managers of Volunteers Programme (MVP) has been making around New Zealand. Nobody has yet come out trumpeting visions and dreams and just what makes management of volunteers a great career option and why it is important. Or even telling me I am talking through a hole in my head.
Now I will try the affirmative story. The MVP is on the road right now, offering workshops on Leadership in selected locations. Participants are enthusiastic. They have to work of course, thinking on their feet and around the room and scribing views on large sheets of paper. They are asked to spell out wish lists, priorities, what works, and what more is wanted in the name of management of volunteers. The questions require a wider perspective than what is happening for me right now.
For example: What do you see as priorities for you and the team, for the organisation, the community, the sector and the nation? That’s a pretty big ask, but heck the answers keep flowing. Like we have already done the analysis, and we know what needs to happen.
At the end of the day there is a map for future directions, and a lot of enthusiasm for going forward. There is an identified agenda for making things happen in local communities, in the name of Leadership and Management of Volunteers.
This process is classic community development, an example of the ‘think global, act local’ strategies that have proved effective in the past. The workshops are also the start of ripples that can turn into waves.
The first ripples are engaging managers of volunteers to work together, across organisations. The next ripple is to promote our cause, finding ways to engage with the market. Defining competencies and best practice for the role would be a good start, along with a learning pathway and a shared resource base and discussion forum. Another ripple will start when we engage with our organisations and sectors and the wider community, with the key messages on volunteering, volunteer management and their real significance.
That’s when the real wave starts, when the MVP gets to surf on the crest of an ocean roller.
If you need some encouragement try Cleo Laine’s full-throated version of the Sondheim song.
Or look at the innovative webinars on management of volunteers offered by the Volunteer Centre Warrington (UK). This summary includes links to further detail.
Or take in Susan J Ellis’ wisdom, It Takes a Whole Organisation, recorded in Queensland a few months ago.
The point is, if you didn’t get it last week, is to get out there to market our wares to those who need to know. If managers of volunteers do such a great job of recruiting and retaining volunteers what is so different or difficult in explaining who we are and why we are important?