The Institute for Volunteering Research has published the first piece of major research into volunteer management capacity 'Management matters – a national survey of volunteer management capacity'
It makes for some fascinating reading. Some of the issues that stood out for me:Organisational recognition of the need to manage volunteers:
12% organisations had no one responsible for managing volunteers.
31% organisations did not have funding for supporting volunteers.
Organisational recognition of the role of Volunteer Managers:
Just 6% of Volunteer Managers are paid, full-time Volunteer Managers.
Just 24% of Volunteer Managers were called volunteer manager/co-ordinator.
Of those with a job description 22% have volunteer management tagged on without it being in the JD.
Most Volunteer Managers are paid below the national average.
83% Volunteer Managers say they receive sufficient support from their organisations.
The average number of volunteers managed by a Volunteer ManagerÂ was 15.
Over the last 5 years (and particularly in the last 18 months or so) we've definitely seen an improvement in the recognition of the role that volunteer managers play and the skills required to perform that role, not least in the Office of the Third Sector's announcement of funding for training volunteer managers.
However, the research suggests we are starting from a scandalously low base. For starters, to have one in ten organisations who involve volunteers not to have someone responsible for managing them is a disgrace and disrespectful to the volunteers involved.
Not surprisingly just under a quarter have volunteer management 'tagged' onto their role without it being recognised in their job description, and only another quarter are actually called 'volunteer manager/co-ordinator'. I think this is symptomatic of a large part of the volunteering sector not truly understanding what volunteer managers do. I know from my own experience that volunteer management does not yet have a recognised 'home' within the organisational structure.
A couple of months ago, I ran a session with some volunteer managers to look at the skills they needed to do their job. Unsurprisingly, they came up with a long diverseÂ list, and yet according to the research most volunteer managers are paid less than the national average salary, which doesn't reflect the competencies needed to be a good volunteer manager
Of course, some of the findings may challenge your own beliefs. For example I've spoken to many volunteer managers who say that actually they don't feel supported by their own organisation, whether it's not having access to training, not being given the opportunity to meet with peers, or having line-managers who don't actually understand what they do. And yet, apparently, the vast majority do feel supported.
So what does this mean for volunteer managers and forÂ AVM? I think it shows there is a long road ahead of us to have volunteer management properly valued and recognised. We've come a long way in recognising the value of volunteering and volunteers but we now need to make that next cultural step-changeÂ that says effective volunteering is reliant on effective volunteer management, and that is a job for all of us. No-one is going to do it for us.
What do you think?