To celebrate the launch of the Association of Volunteer Managers on 5th June 2007, a pre-launch event was held on 4th June.
The event was not just a celebration though. We also wanted to make it an interactive day in line with our philosophy that the Association will only work if it is member-driven. 89 people invested their time to provide some very useful feedback on how they saw our role, what their concerns were and how they would like to see the Association develop.
Dan Sumners spent the day with us to provide an independent, critical analysis of the day. He concluded that there was an enthusiastic ‘buzz’ about the Association from the participants and a strong feeling that there was a need for such a body but he had two warnings.
Firstly, for the Directors, he warned that it was important that they allowed their ‘baby’ to grow and develop in line with the members’ wishes, even though it may be in a direction they hadn’t envisaged. Secondly, for the members, they needed to realise they had a responsibility to help the Association grow, that it could not be done solely by the directors.
Thanks go to Scope for hosting the event, the Workforce Hub for supporting it, Michelle Coulthard-Steer, Andrea Kelmanson, Maggie Piazza and Moyra Weston for volunteering their time as facilitators, Dan Sumners for volunteering his time to act as a ‘critical friend’ of the event, and Waitrose who provided lunch at a 25% discount.
Several articles have been written in the press about the launch of AVM:
A new umbrella group to campaign on behalf of volunteer managers is to be launched, to speak out on the issues that affect their work nationally and regionally.
The Association of Volunteer Managers, run by those already working with volunteers, will offer networking opportunities and develop best practice resources for the sector. Many of AVM’s services, from peer support groups to blogs, will be primarily run by its members. The group will be officially launched on 5 June.
“The role of volunteer manager is more complex than every before,” a statement from the group said. “There is increasing regulation relating to both volunteering and also to the sectors within which many people volunteer. There are also changes in the ways that people come to volunteering, [with] people more conscious of what they want to gain from volunteering and organisations facing increasing economic challenges and often looking to volunteers to help resolve these.”
The group’s first members are expected to be recruited at a launch event in June, when early research into volunteer managers’ training and support needs will also be carried out.
The Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) has been launched to champion and facilitate a network for volunteer managers across England.
The association will focus on those with responsibility for recruiting, placing and supporting volunteers.
Debbie Usiskin, an AVM director, said volunteering was long overdue for professional recognition and that managers greatly needed the opportunity to network.
Norman Shaw, a volunteer co-ordinator at drug rehabilitation charity Addaction Manchester, added that supervising volunteers involved far more skill than managing paid workers. “You need to find out what motivates your staff and what drives them – what it is that keeps them coming to work every day without the pay packet,” he said.
One of the founders of a new support group for volunteer managers has warned against volunteering being “offered as a panacea for society’s ills”.
Debbie Usiskin, who has 10 years’ experience of managing volunteers at charities such as Victim Support, helped launch the Association of Volunteer Managers this week. The association is open to anyone who works with volunteers, including those in private companies.
Usiskin’s warning comes as Volunteering Week ends tomorrow. She said: “Managing volunteers is becoming like juggling, but harder. It is being offered as a panacea for society’s ills. Many doctors, for example, recommend volunteering instead of antidepressants. Managers can often end up with volunteers with high support needs, such as refugees or the long-term unemployed.”
She said the association would offer a one-stop shop for information and would help negotiate a way through the growing volume of conflicting regulations.