June 3, 2010
Well – I’ve given a few hints in the stories below about language. Here’s my list of laments for the state of managing volunteers:
- The labels and the language we use about ourselves can be first-class put-downs
- I have been at meetings for managers of volunteers where a chorus of ‘poor-me’s’ becomes a downward spiral with lots of hang-dog heads.
- I’ve seen job descriptions that go on for 10 pages, asking the impossible of any one person.
- I’ve noted how the Manager of Volunteers is sometimes confined to a poky office miles from where the real action is.
- The organisation gives heaps of praise for the work of volunteers and never a nod to the person who makes it all happen.
- Volunteers and their manager are perceived as the soft and fluffy bits of the organisation, and they do not need to be included in strategic planning or management decision-making.
- I really object to finding statistics showing how much volunteer services contribute to the domestic economy, without a mention of the skilled management and leadership that gets the services going.
This is why I write about managing volunteers. I want something better for volunteers, for their organisations, and most of all for the people responsible for volunteer programmes and services.
Oooh, I hear you say. You think I have gone to extremes in these examples of exploitation and lack of recognition? If you have never experienced any of the above then you and your organisation are most fortunate. Please, share your good news stories. My future posts will be accentuating the positive, as well as pointing out the heap of resources available to make things better.