June 1, 2014

The Measure of Success

Posted in Managers Matter, Organisation responsibilities, Recognition of Volunteering, Valuing Volunteers tagged , , , at 3:44 am by Sue Hine

success-factors[1]In just a couple of weeks it is New Zealand’s turn to hold National Volunteer Week, that opportunity to give some real acknowledgement and appreciation of volunteer work undertaken for organisations and in communities throughout the country.  If you did not know about this event already I am giving you advance notice to get cracking and plan something special for the volunteers in your organisation.

I was reminded recently of the sometime lack of understanding of volunteering and the relevance of holding a National Volunteer Week:

I asked audiences of managers of volunteers how executive leadership at their organizations define success regarding volunteer involvement. And one of the answers really disturbed me: It’s successful if no one complains.

That statement is a huge indictment on executive ignorance of volunteering, not to mention any understanding of the skills and professionalism required to manage volunteers.  I have to wonder if there was a similar lack of interest in the work of paid staff.  I wonder if there is any executive consideration of the relation between the organisation’s structure and function, and outcomes for its users?  I don’t think I would enjoy employment in that organisation, in either paid or voluntary capacity.

So I would like National Volunteer Week to be trumpeting not just volunteer virtues, but also the meaning of volunteering and what organisations need to know about volunteering and its management.  Here are three questions executives in leadership positions could be asking themselves in the lead-up to NVW.

Why does your organisation involve volunteers?

How does volunteering contribute to social well-being in our communities?

What do you need to know about managing volunteers?

I’m not going to answer the questions, because that’s the mission for executive managers.  Think of it as a treasure hunt, with the potential to bring as much value to the organisation as the next funding grant.  Then everyone will be better informed about volunteering, and will be looking to celebrate volunteer achievements.  Then we will know the real success of a volunteer programme.

By coincidence there is another post considering the meaning of success for volunteers and management of volunteers.  There’s plenty of material available to tell us what a successful volunteer programme looks like – don’t let’s accept excuses like ‘no complaints received’.

You see, if it takes a whole village to raise a child, it can take a whole organisation to make the most of volunteer contributions.

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2 Comments »

  1. Hi Sue, these are timely questions. In the States, hospices are required to use volunteers or their funding by Medicare is cut off. Honestly, sometimes I wonder if they would “bother” to have volunteers if it weren’t for the requirement. In my opinion, we need to shift volunteer week in every country from cute celebrations thanking our volunteers, (much like a five year old’s birthday party where the “adults” sit around and drink wine while the kids play) to real acknowledgement of the amazing work volunteers are doing, Maybe these celebrations should be more about testimonials from clients, staff, volunteers and executive directors about the accomplishments. And not just numbers of hours or the worn out, money saved stats that really are meaningless, but real stories of making a difference in real lives. And to top it off, include a “direction” looking forward instead of looking back at the fluff. Tall order, but it needs to happen. LOL, I nominate you to start the change!

    Like

    • Sue Hine said,

      Keep your stories coming Meridian – and we need to encourage more of them across the sector. Yes change is in the air. Let the revolution begin!

      Like


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