AVM Grows Its Voice With New Chair and Five New Board Members

At this week’s AGM the Association of Volunteer Managers welcomed a new chair and five new members of the board, as the organisation looked to grow its voice for the volunteer management profession.

Founding member Debbie Usiskin stood down from both the position of chair and the board after ten years, and announced her successor as Ruth Leonard.

Ruth’s first task after the announcement was to share the results of the board elections, where successful candidates Jo Gibney, Daniel Ingram and Karen Ramnauth were all appointed to three-year terms on the board. While four board places were being contested, following a draw for fourth place the AGM resolved to appoint the two drawing candidates Angela Wilson and Rachel Ball to two year terms as directors.

Ruth said: “We’d like to wish a heartfelt thanks and best wishes to Debbie Usiskin who stood down from the role of Chair of the Board at our AGM. Debbie has given an immense amount of time and commitment to AVM since our official launch and before. At the launch event 10 years ago she described ‘managing volunteers as becoming like juggling, but harder’ and it seems as if expectations are even greater on those who involve and work with volunteers today. Debbie will continue to be a great advocate of AVM and as with all our members will have a powerful part to play in the future.”

Debbie Usiskin was part of the team that conceived and founded AVM, along with John Ramsey, and served as Vice Chair from its formal registration in 2007 until taking on the role of chair two years ago. Her successor Ruth has a track record of senior level volunteer engagement and currently works as Macmillan Cancer Support’s Head of Volunteering.

The newly-elected directors help grow the varied skills and perspectives on the board, coming from an array of organisation types and management levels. Jo Gibney comes from The British Legion’s Volunteer Support Unit and holds an ILM Level 5 in Volunteer Management, Daniel Ingram comes from the animal charity Wood Green, and Karen Ramnauth brings legal training and the perspective of volunteer engagement within the NHS to the board for the first time.

In addition to Debbie, the AGM saw board members Karen Janes and Bryan Precious retire from the board, after two and three-years respectively.

On taking up the position of chair, Ruth reflected that, “We as the Board need to remember advice from the launch event’s facilitator that we need to allow AVM to grow in line with members’ wishes and as members – this is your association so you have a responsibility to help it grow – it shouldn’t be done solely by the Directors.”

In addition to Ruth and new directors Jo, Daniel, Karen, Angela and Rachel, the board of AVM currently consists of Treasurer Patrick Daniels, Chris Reed, Fiona Wallace, Rachael Bayley and Vice-Chair A.S. Maini.

Volunteer Management In The Next Decade

Karl Wilding continues our tenth anniversary blog series with thoughts on how Volunteer Management’s journey to date will shape the next ten years.

In the ten years since AVM was established, much has changed in the world around us that has impacted upon volunteering and therefore volunteer management. Some of this surprised us: a financial crisis, a decade of economic stagnation and social tensions, albeit punctuated by the highlight of volunteering during London 2012, and more recently the decision to leave the European Union. Some changes we saw coming: the demographic pressures and changing social attitudes of an ageing, more diverse and more atomised society. What we probably didn’t see was how quickly these changes would come about and the pressure they would place on our communities and the services we use. We probably also didn’t see how the opportunities that digital technology would deliver, or some of the social fractures it would deepen. Building bridges between communities of place and interest is more vital than ever, a tension that saw volunteer management hit (for the first time?) the front pages of our national newspapers recently.

We live in interesting times. It seems to me that these wider social, demographic and economic changes will continue to shape and reshape volunteering over the next decade, though only the most foolhardy venture to make predictions these days. What therefore might AVM members want to mull over as shaping the next 10 years?

For me, the slow burn of demographic change will reshape volunteering and how we think about how we work with those who want to engage in the communities (note the plural) around them. Public services are already being refashioned so as to involve service users more in their delivery. Boundaries between paid and unpaid staff will blur as we try and cope with pressures from a growing, but ageing, population. Note also the less flexible labour markets that many argue will result from the decision to leave the European Union.

Informal volunteering, such as acts of neighbourliness, especially seem important as reducing demand is seen as a way of helping public services better cope. The Royal Voluntary Service’s increased focus on social action might be indicative of the way forward here. Do we need to (re)think volunteer managers as convenors, catalysts, shapers of people who want to get involved in their communities? If so, is it a radical rethink or an evolution of change already afoot? Either way, it will be more important than ever that we build and strengthen the bonds of community. More people helping people.

But it’s about more than just individuals doing good things: bringing people together so that they are more than the sum of their parts, working out how best to involve businesses who feel a responsibility to the community, and working out how to work alongside our public services are all part of the emerging landscape. We’ve learnt over the last decade that volunteers don’t always just appear spontaneously; or even when they do, good organisation and infrastructure enables volunteers to make a bigger impact.

Effective, impactful volunteering needs good infrastructure and networks. As government and business become more interested in social action, the case for investment in volunteer management might become more apparent, based on experience. In turn this will inevitably lead to more thinking about value for money, greater calls for management information, and more data collection. That has to be a good thing, but for some it might be the less attractive side of continued professionalization. If that leads to less of the ‘let’s sprinkle some volunteers on the problem’ type thinking, then a more data-driven approach is OK by me.

The topic of data leads to a discussion of digital (aka #techforgood) and how that might shape the future of volunteering. This is the most difficult to call: AVM’s ten year anniversary coincides with the device that pretty much kicked off the smartphone revolution, the iPhone. Could anyone seriously have predicted the impact that would have on pretty much every aspect of life? Current trends might suggest an ever-more efficient brokering of people who want to get involved with opportunities that fit (based on the data that your phone now collects about you); more emphasis on place and opportunities based on where someone happens to be; and more mopping up of small bits of spare time as the smartphone facilitates activities such as mentoring, remotely. Finally, tech blogs are currently awash with discussions of AI and machine learning. I can’t even begin to understand how these will shape volunteer management – they will – but in terms of volunteering itself, volunteers are already helping machines to learn how to recognise patterns that have a social outcome, such as this project around slavery. A brave new world indeed.

Volunteer management will not stay static in the next decade. Nor should it. I look forward to AVM leading the discussion around what the brave new world of volunteer management could, and might, look like.

 

Karl Wilding speaks and writes widely on issues facing the voluntary sector. Karl is Director of Public Policy and Volunteering at NCVO, a trustee of both Creating the Future and St Albans CVS, and an advisor to Charity Bank.

Notice of Extraordinary General Meeting: 13 July 2017

Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) will be holding an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) at the following time and location:

6pm, Thursday 13 July 2017
The Royal British Legion (Head Office), 199 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1AA

The business to be discussed is a change in the articles of incorporation of AVM.

A series of changes is proposed, and can be downloaded using the links below.

  • Proposed changes marked-up on current articles

Please note that as these documents are stored on Google Drive you may encounter restrictions if accessing them from a corporate network.

(Please note that these documents are no longer available for download)

Update 14 July 2017

As the EGM was inquorate, the meeting was adjourned to The Crypt, Christ Church Spitalfields on 27 July 2017

Update 28 July 2017

The adjourned EGM was successfully held and the new articles passed, you can learn more in the full report.

Ten Ten Ten: How Does The Next Decade Look For Volunteering

Continuing our series of blogs celebrating AVM’s tenth anniversary, Joe Saxton offers his ‘top ten’ of how volunteering will change in the next decade.

AVM is ten years old. It’s a huge achievement for any start-up organisation to get this far. Much has changed in the world of volunteering in the last ten years, but the need for AVM is greater than ever. The world of volunteering will go on changing over the next 10 years. So here are my 10 predictions for how volunteering will change, what the best volunteer managers will be doing, and how AVM will need to react.

1. The potential for volunteering will go on growing. Whether its volunteers in schools, welcoming refugees, campaigning against government cuts, or helping neighbours, we haven’t begun to reach saturation in the ways that volunteering can change society.

2. Baby boomers are going to hit peak volunteering potential. The generation born in the years 1946-1964 are just hitting retirement in volume and the potential for them to volunteer is huge. But they need to be treated right.

3. With a little help from charities, youth volunteering will mature to help young people move seamlessly into volunteering during their working lives. Volunteers are for life, not just for young people.

4. Volunteer managers will have specialisms just like fundraisers do. There are over 15 types of fundraising expertise. Expect volunteering management to become more and more specialist as it matures, just as fundraising has.

5. Supporter-centred management will be where the best volunteer managers steal a march on competitors. We already see fundraising and communications and marketing working much more closely together. The best organisations will look at how supporters want to engage and manage their needs holistically whether they want to give, volunteer, campaign or use services.

6. We still don’t know how to encourage neighbourliness or manage it or see it as part of volunteering nearly enough. As much as we want people to volunteer in charity shops and more formal ways, we want people to give time to neighbourhood. This is an example of the specialisms that are needed (see point 4).

7. The most far-sighted charities will invest in volunteer recruitment the way they do donor recruitment. Typically they may invest several hundred pounds in donor recruitment and the total budget may amount to millions of pounds in the biggest charities. I wonder how many volunteer managers even have a recruitment budget.

8. Intertwining specific audiences by demographics (eg working parents) and product (eg micro-volunteering) will be the breakfast of volunteering champions. In other words, the best organisations will understand exactly who their volunteers are, or could be, and create the volunteering products to encourage, entice and engage them ever more into giving their time.

9. AVM needs to gear up to change to make the most of volunteering. A decade after launch it still has just one member of staff (while CharityComms launched at the same time has nearly 10 staff). AVM needs to grasp the potential of the years ahead with passion, energy and enthusiasm.

10. And one of the ways that AVM can make the most of its potential is a name change. Its current name is like a millstone round its neck, partly because the name is usually shortened, and partly because it isn’t just ‘volunteer managers’ who do volunteer management. It can be people with a bundle of responsibilities. AVM as a name ghettoises the organisation and holds it back.

This guest blog is by Joe Saxton, Driver of Ideas at nfpSynergy and its founder. Joe co-founded and chaired CharityComms, and has been chair of the Institute of Fundraising and People & Planet. Joe blogs in a personal capacity.

Ten Years of Championing Volunteer Management

Ten years ago today, a group of volunteer managers launched a body that aimed to champion the role of the volunteer manager in building a thriving volunteer involving organisation. Inspired by the desire to bring people together to network and share best practice, as well as demonstrate the impact of volunteer management, AVM was born.

I was one of those people.

My personal starting point in this journey was being at a meeting of the National Volunteer Managers Forum and thinking ‘what’s so special about managing volunteers – they’re just people?’

I’ve now come full circle and have realised how complex managing volunteers is. I’ve realised that people bring themselves to volunteering in a way that’s very different from their job. When ‘just doing a job’ a person will offer one side of themselves, but when volunteering they bring their full self.

What this means is that people managing volunteers need to learn how to read people and go through that process. When bringing their full selves to the party, people will bring an emotional history which makes a real difference in the way they can behave. Volunteer managers can sometimes find that a challenge. We need to be able to demonstrate respect for a volunteer’s experience, whilst also ensuring volunteers recognise the boundaries in their role – it’s a real juggling act.

For organisations providing services it may be difficult to remember that colleagues and volunteers may also be – or have been – service users. In fact this is very likely for volunteers.

Volunteers can help bridge the gap between service users and the wider organisation, helping overcome the feeling of ‘us and them’. Volunteers bring in the experience and emotional history, which may be too painful for staff to deal with.

Having been there at the beginning, I wanted to bring these perspectives and learnings to a wider audience, to find peers to share them with and talk about them.

I am proud that we have developed and grown this voice, and this space to share it, and have a mature, dedicated organisation a decade later.

These ten years have represented a great deal of effort, but I hope you’ll agree that, today, AVM provides the information, support and sharing that ensures volunteer managers can effectively enable volunteers to share their skills in a way that gives the most impact.

To all of you that have come with us on this journey, for however long, thank you for bringing out the magic of volunteering.

Work with AVM as our Learning & Development Officer

AVM are looking for a Learning & Development Officer to join the team.

The main objective of the role will be to plan, manage, market and deliver a schedule of high quality learning and development events/activities with the purpose of creating significant revenue, growing our membership and promoting AVM’s reputation and profile.

This role would suit someone with significant experience of designing and co-ordinating learning events, alongside event management experience and attention to detail. Existing experience within the voluntary sector or a professional membership body would be a bonus. Detailed role profile and person specification are available on our CharityJob listing.

The salary offered for this post is £26,500pa.

The deadline for applications is Noon on Friday 24 March 2017.

Interviews will be held during week commencing Monday 3 April 2017.

Application is via CV and cover letter sent to Fiona Wallace through our CharityJob listing.

AVM Hires First Employee To Grow Events Programme

I’m pleased to announce that AVM, in partnership with nfpSynergy, has just recruited its first full time employee.

To grow our range of events, seminars and conferences we’ve employed Abigail Cooper in the role of Events Manager. Having worked on our plans for over a year we know Abigail will be a huge asset to our work, and allow us to do more events, in more places, on more topics.

We know there is demand for the growth in volunteer management and leadership expertise from both large and small organisations and we aim to fill the gap in the market and support volunteer managers.

Abigail’s appointment will also increase our capacity, freeing up directors to focus on reviewing our membership model to include organisations, not solely individuals, to create a sustainable platform for growth.

To help us make this move nfpSynergy have offered office space, administrative support and professional services during the first year.

With a greater programme of events, we believe we can grow our income, increase our impact, and support the appetite for training and CPD from the volunteering development sector. We think it’s a win/win for AVM, and hope you’ll join us in welcoming Abigail.