Wanted: Volunteer Manager (as part of a wider role)

At the Association of Volunteer Managers, when we’re fighting the corner for volunteer managers and co-ordinators nationwide, we often find ourselves confronted by some fundamental, if philosophical questions. These include:

Whether there is such a thing as a volunteer management profession in this country

How we can help balance the lack of resource many volunteer managers work with against the need to provide a high quality volunteering experience

How volunteer managers can sustainably support each other in their roles, rather than becoming reliant on existing volunteering infrastructure

At times like this, when the future not just of volunteer manager roles but the organisations providing them is at stake, such questions have to take a back seat. First and foremost, whether you want to enter or stay in volunteer management, where can you find such jobs (few as they may be in this economic climate) advertised?

Here’s the part of my article where some of you get taught how to suck eggs, some of you pick up some useful snippets, but hopefully all of you feeling uncertain about your work futures are at least prompted to get looking in the right direction.

Let’s start with what for some will be ‘the bleeding obvious’ in terms of where to find job adverts for volunteer management / co-ordinator / head / etc roles.

Our own AVM website has a handy Jobs section, where the likes of The Woodland Trust, Making Music, Marie Curie Cancer Care, CLIC Sargent and Voluntary Action Sheffield have all advertised within the past few months.

UKVPMs is a lively, participative Yahoo communication / networking group with 1342 members at the time of writing. You’ll often find volunteer manager adverts here – recent times have been no exception.

Third Sector, VolResource and The Guardian are amongst several nationwide online and offline publications with something of a speciality in advertising voluntary sector roles. Then there are specialist websites such as CharityJob and Forum 3.

What follows is not a recommendation of recruitment agencies, but there are several who charities frequently choose to advertise roles through, often when time is of the essence during the recruitment process. Charity People, NFP Resourcing, Harris Hill and Morgan Hunt are among those with experience in this area (bearing in mind none specialise in volunteer management roles specifically – you’re just as likely to see fundraisers, community development workers, etc being advertised for).

So there’s 11 websites to start you off with at a nationwide level. I’m going to skim over the potential of social media sites to help you find work here. Let’s be frank, whatever you think of Facebook, it was set up to help US university students interact with each other (in some cases by throwing virtual chickens or growing virtual farms!) than to help UK volunteer managers find jobs. Nonetheless it has evolved to the point where many charities have an online presence here, though indications are that for many the primary motive is to fundraise. Mind you with 500 million users, as ‘The Social Network’ film trailer suggests, you’re never going to please everyone.

A job vacancy may be ‘tweeted’ to x number of followers, but one site I’m more inclined to recommend, based on my admittedly limited use thus far, is LinkedIn. This site was set up with the specific goal of allowing professionals to stay informed about each other’s work and opportunities.

OK. That’s the broad-brush national approach out of the way. Drill down to regional or local level and then you’ve got the websites and newsletters of Councils for Voluntary Service, Volunteer Centres and regional voluntary sector agencies. Here’s some examples of the latter from the West Midlands, London and the East Midlands. Sometimes local authority websites will carry voluntary sector roles too.

But there are still ways of finding a job without going anywhere near a computer. Where time and relevance allows, make sure you’re networking as much in person as you are online. Are the forums, meetings or events in your area where you’re likely to meet other volunteer management professionals or come into contact with volunteer involving organisations?

Perhaps you wish to specialise in a particular field of volunteering – health, the arts, sport, older people, mentoring, and so on? Think about the infrastructure bodies that support these areas of volunteering, such as the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation, County Sports Partnerships, NAVSM and so on. These organisations may get wind of upcoming employment opportunities in advance if they have been asked to advertise them to their networks.

You’ve probably twigged how I’m going to sum up this article now – by emphasising that word of mouth remains the best way to find out about upcoming opportunities in many cases. After all, someone has to know about a job in order to be able to post it on a website, advertise in a publication and so forth. So get yourself linked in (no pun intended) with your peers, think about any qualifications or training that could support you along the way, and if you know of other ways to get a job not listed here, then reply to this article and let everyone know!

Mike Gale

AVM Director and Senior Officer, Inspiration and Legacy from the 2012 Games, Volunteering England

The Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) is an independent body that aims to support, represent and champion people who manage volunteers in England regardless of field, discipline or sector. It has been set up by and for people who manage volunteers. Membership is available to anyone involved in volunteer management. Find out more at http://www.volunteermanagers.org.uk

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