AVM response to Office of Third Sector’s comment on the ‘Manifesto for Change’

The Association of Volunteer Managers welcomes the Office of the Third Sector's generally positive response to the Commission's 'Manifesto for Change'.

We are pleased that the Office of the Third Sector see its role in leading cross-Government support for developing volunteering and expect this to result in better recognition across all government departments of the vital role volunteer management plays in developing successful and sustainable volunteering.

We welcome the investment of £2 million into piloting an Access for Volunteering Fund that will enable volunteer managers to increase opportunities for disabled people to volunteer and in particular the £4 million provided for the training of volunteers and volunteer managers. However, we hope that the Office of the Third Sector not only recognises that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to volunteer management but that the development of volunteer management and volunteer managers includes enabling peer support, peer mentoring and networking, not just the provision of conventional training. We would be pleased to work with the Office of the Third Sector in developing proposals for supporting volunteer managers.

We are disappointed, though, that they have ignored the Commission's recommendation supporting the local volunteering infrastructure. Properly funded, volunteer centres can make a vital contribution towards developing local volunteer management for volunteer managers who cannot access any other local support and influencing those organisations, who don't invest in appropriate volunteer management, to recognise that volunteer managers are an essential element in delivering effective and sustainable volunteering.

We look forward to working with the Office of the Third Sector, Volunteering England and the rest of the volunteering sector in delivering the Manifesto's recommendations and ensuring volunteer managers are actively involved in the process.

One thought on “AVM response to Office of Third Sector’s comment on the ‘Manifesto for Change’

  1. Firstly, I welcome any new monies coming into the sector; however I wish to make the following points, from a Devil’s Advocate perspective.

    Whilst 2 million and 4 million respectively might look good, in reality such figures are but a drop in the ocean compared to the fiscal benefits gained through volunteers and volunteering, historically year on year, so let’s not get too carried away with the numbers.

    Secondly, when governments “give” money it is rarely if ever given for purely altruistic reasons; as such it is easy in the moment to take the Kings shilling only to find ourselves in a war zone; by that I mean a battle between traditional values/ethos/philosophy in respect of volunteers and volunteering; and the potential of government led no doubt target driven, league table concepts of volunteering, that will in my opinion be as damaging and demoralising as they have been in other areas where they have been imposed, favouring quantity over quality, and are probably more to do with massaging statistics in relation to for example unemployment than valuing volunteers as people who wish to give their time freely for many reasons.

    As an aside:

    Successive governments have historically acknowledged all our “good work” whilst at the same time financially ignoring us, as such many good volunteer programs have failed.

    So what’s changed, why the sudden interest?

    Playing Devil’s Advocate; could the forthcoming 2012 London centric Olympics have anything to do with it, and the fact that the project will need a large number of short term volunteers in order to make the event have any chance of success.
    If this is the case, then in the run up our collective knowledge and expertise in relation to recruitment and management of volunteers will be needed, and no doubt at some point post games some high profile person will be knighted or made a Lord/Dame on the back of volunteer efforts; but hey, volunteers may well get a commemorative badge and an “encouraging” pat on the head, which of course makes it alright.
    So let’s campaign for a volunteer to be knighted, or does that sound to unrealistic?

    In summary, if we fall into the trap of one size fits all, we would in my personal opinion be signing our own death warrant in relation to what we know and understand to be volunteering; lest we forget that most day to day volunteering is undertaken at a local level and benefits the local community, and not sexy here today gone tomorrow one off headline grabbing events.

    Think of the volunteers in for example your local charity shops, people who help local youth clear ponds, beach cleans, the list is endless as you are all aware, in the not to distant future what happens to these small but valuable programs when the “person” who pays the piper decides their worth and inevitably their fate.

    In my opinion, we must resist at all cost the “ONE SIZE FITS ALL” approach

    And finally, it’s worth remembering the classic oxymoron: Government organisation

    N.B These views are entirely my own and do NOT in anyway reflect the views of any organisation I work for or have worked fro in the past.

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