April 16, 2011

At Last, a Good News Story!

Posted in Good news stories, Valuing Volunteers at 9:34 pm by Sue Hine

This is how it goes.

I filled in a volunteer request form and fired it off to the Volunteer Centre, that place where there is a meeting and matching between community organisations and aspiring volunteers.

I submitted an explicit job description that ticked all the boxes of tasks, technical requirements, accountability, time frames, expected outcomes – and the available back-up support.

Well – it took only a day to get the first response.  Amy had some really good credentials, and we arranged to meet. Over a coffee we started to learn about each other, and to fill in details of the job requirements.  Not a problem said Amy – just what she wanted to do.  I handed over the materials she needed and left her to it.

There is a back story here.  Amy is a bright young 20-something, recently completed uni (history and social policy majors).  She’s looking for a job, like so many others out there, and maybe this project will give her a leg-up to something that pays a bit more than the rent.

She’s got a bit-time job working as a shop assistant. Boring as, but the pay is a small contribution to living expenses. Her flat-mate is volunteering to work at Trade Aid – for no pay, nothing.  Amy cannot understand – why on earth would you spend all that time doing grunge work for nothing?

Until she tries it.

Amy discovers volunteering. She learns how cool it is to be part of an organisation that matters, that is not all about reaching sales targets and balance sheets and gloomy economic prospects.  She discovers how volunteering is much more about connecting with people and doing some really good stuff for all the communities out there. She has joined a wider world. It’s a whole new world where she feels involved, respected, valued, part of the team. She can speak up and know her voice is heard.  It’s pretty exciting to be part of an organisation that is doing such great things, she says. Things she cares about, thinks are important in her communities, and nationally as well.

Amy’s enthusiasm is a welcome antidote to the depressing news of a market survey revealing that 20-something people are more interested in their pay packets and prospective bonuses, and sex, than in community issues and knowing their neighbours.   I should be ignoring these results, because we have been reading figures for some months that show an upsurge of volunteering from younger age-groups.  Which just goes to show that market surveys do not know everything.

We have got some great results from Amy’s work. She was diligent; she responded immediately to requests for an update; took on board my late additions of information and was not fazed in offering a formal presentation.

That’s what volunteers do, right?

Call me now if you would like Amy to join your organisation.  Her primary interest is in administration stuff, though she has potential to do much more.

Please note – I am not a recruitment agency, but I do know about employee applicant potential, and a great volunteer when I see one!

Clarification:  Some readers of last week’s post thought I was the manager that had been hard-done by their organisation.  It was not. I was personalising a real incident that exemplifies what happens to managers of volunteers when organisation executives just don’t ‘get’ volunteering and what managers of volunteers really do. And if you are wondering, the Amy in this current post is alive and real, and she did some real work for the Volunteering New Zealand Management of Volunteers Project.



  1. This great, and very enthusiastic-now-about- volunteering, real-life Amy, is Volunteer Wellington’s admin assistant every Wednesday evening looking after our late shift of volunteer interviewers. Enjoyed reading this positive story about her. Interesting how influential a flat-mate having a rewarding volunteering experience can be.


  2. Sue Hine said,

    Update: Amy has now secured paid employment. The mouth on my smiley button is up for her and a droopy down for volunteering – though all is not lost. Amy promises to hold a small window for volunteering in her new life. Thanks Amy, and best wishes……


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