Steve wrote recently on UKVPMs that he had advocated regional volunteer management strategies in his last post in a national organisation, but was looked at blankly.
I have recently been working in a national organisation with a centralised volunteering strategy role and certainly one of the things I thought was that if I were setting up a department from scratch there should be a regional element to it, fitting in with the way that the volunteering infrastructure has been organised as well as taking into consideration local needs as well as local opportunities for recruiting volunteers, other local organisations to work in partnership – and so much more.
But reading Steve’s post, and thinking of recent conversations at AVM board meetings as well as in the pub(!) I wondered if there was something else to consider. There is a common prevailing attitude that everyone in every volunteer involving organisation is an expert, and that the role of volunteer manager is not particularly complex and does not require much skill or expertise. This attitude is supported by the lack of high level independently accredited training, poor salary structure (how many Heads of Volunteering are paid a comparative salary to other Heads of within their organisations), poor positioning within organisations of volunteering (how many directors or executive directors of volunteers are there?) and an almost invisible career structure for those wanting to remain in the field (who of us is clear where to go next – what is a move up and what would be a move sideways – this is not always clearly reflected by salary alone).
Is it perhaps in the interest of people holding this attitude to continue to reinforce their beliefs by not giving the suggestions made by professional experts any credence. Is it a way of saying “you are only a manager of volunteers – what do you know of strategic development?”
We need to work together as a community of professionals to get others to recognise our expertise, many things are different when engaging with volunteers, including how to develop strategy, we know this because we do it on a daily basis and we need to shout more and more loudly about it so others recognise that.
Now – go and recruit a colleague into AVM and strengthen our voice just a little bit more!