A code of practice for professionals in volunteer management
Volunteering has come a long way. The understanding of the valuable role volunteering plays and its contribution to building communities is now part of the political mainstream. It’s become a firm fixture in the rhetoric of public figures from princes to prime ministers and has featured on the policy agenda of successive governments.
The nascent role of volunteer management has been a key driver in the greater recognition and impact of volunteering. However, this role is not well understood and too often public discourse on volunteering makes little reference to volunteer management. The knowledge and scope of what’s required for successful volunteer engagement remains one of our sector’s best kept secrets.
Volunteer management as a profession
Research repeatedly indicates that there are a growing number of people, both paid and unpaid, across public, private and voluntary sectors, helping to cultivate this recent blossoming of volunteering. What we do goes beyond simply having a job, carrying out a function or fulfilling a contract. We are professionals and should be recognised as such.
Evidence points to a growth in those taking a professional approach to volunteer management whether as managers, leaders or involved in its development. The support and interest in the Association of Volunteer Managers since its inception in 2007 is just one indicator of this trend.
Building a new profession
We believe there is a growing appetite to build a new profession in volunteer management.
As professionals in volunteer management we’re faced with complex situations that require our specialist and expert knowledge. This knowledge is gained through reflection on our own practice and learning from others with similar experiences.
If we are to apply that knowledge, we require autonomy – we need to be able to come to our own judgement independent of other professions and disciplines.
However, with professional autonomy comes responsibility and accountability. To support professionals with that responsibility, the profession of volunteer management needs, collectively, to develop its very own set of professional values – a code of practice.
The need for a code of practice
What’s needed is a code that inspires each professional’s ongoing performance and practice to improve and develop.
Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) would like to propose to members that we take forward our profession and agree together a code of practice for professionals in volunteer management.
This code of practice in volunteer management should:
- provide a framework that guides the core practice of professionals in volunteer management
- encourage active reflection among professionals in volunteer management on the wider implications and impacts of their work
- inform the practice of others who work in association with professionals in volunteer management
- support constructive communication between professionals in volunteer management and the public on complex and challenging issues in volunteering
- raise the standards of practice by ensuring the integrity of members and thereby raise the public’s trust in what we do