A priority not a luxury

The York CAB case is distressing for many reasons; that 28 volunteers felt they had no option but to walk-out; the impact on the people of York who look to the bureau for advice; and what it might say to people interested in volunteering but are now thinking why bother. 

But, if we can take anything positive from this, it is an extremely timely reminder as to the necessity for effective volunteer management. 

Thankfully, volunteers walking-out en masse is rare, but we know that individual volunteers leave because they’re unhappy. Last year’s national volunteering survey showed that although the management of volunteering has improved significantly over the last ten years, a third of volunteers still said that their volunteering could be ‘much better organised’. 

One of the biggest challenges the volunteering sector faces is for organisations themselves to recognise the importance of volunteer management. Too often, they forget that without their volunteers they would have no-one to deliver services. 

We are living in a changing world. People are making increasingly sophisticated choices about whether they want to volunteer and, if so, where, when and how. And, with the coming recession, we are likely to see an increased demand for services delivered by volunteers, coupled with pressures on organisations to cut costs. 

If volunteer-involving organisations are to thrive in this changing environment they must:

1. Recognise that effective volunteering requires effective volunteer management.

2.Understand that managing volunteers is a distinct skill that can’t just be lumped on to someone’s job description.

3.Support their volunteer managers, with both time and money, to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to manage volunteers effectively.

4. Ensure there is direct accountability between the volunteering programme and the trustee board. 

Effective volunteer management is a priority not a luxury. York CAB has proven that. 

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