May 31, 2010

Mind Your Language!

Posted in Language at 12:27 am by Sue Hine

This blog is about and for people who manage volunteer services and/or programmes. The first thing I would say is Mind Your Language! Are you a volunteer, or a manager? Or both? But if you are paid you are not a ‘volunteer’ manager. Is your job title ‘Volunteer Coordinator’?  Hmmm… I know being a coordinator involves a lot of management skills, but if you are running a programme, responsible for 1000 volunteers,  why are you still called a ‘volunteer coordinator’?  

Your job title sends out messages about what you do and your function in the organisation.  This is where we have to start thinking about the real nature of the job, and we need to get a lot more explicit about what we do. Do you really do all the hands-on management and personal supervision of the volunteers in your organisation? Or are you more realistically managing the delivery of services provided by volunteers? If you say yes to the first question, and you have a roll-call of 100+ volunteers, I say whew! no wonder you don’t have time to think about the real business of managing volunteers. If you say yes to the second question you will be engaged in all parts of your organisation, working with other staff, developing, negotiating, being creative – and you will be a real manager of volunteer services.

I am recognising here the huge range of community organisations around the country – the national networks that support local endeavours as well as promoting political interests, iwi and whanau organisations, city-based and regional organisations – all involving volunteers on diverse interests.  And please, we cannot overlook the local and particular, the supermarket sausage-sizzle, the soccer mums and dads who get our kids into sport every Saturday, and all the heap of stuff that goes on at a local community level.

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