Yes, volunteer management is a profession!
16 Thursday May 2013
A few weeks ago I taught a half-day workshop called “Vital Volunteer Management” with a group of about 20 participants. It was a very interactive introduction to Volunteer Canada’s volunteer screening cycle.
I began the day introducing some of the major resources that people who manage volunteers can turn to to learn more about this field, and when I mentioned that “volunteer management is actually a profession” there was at least one person in the room who had an “aha” moment. Some of the class had no idea that there are many people in this world who devote their careers to managing volunteers. (I’m glad I was able to enlighten them!)
Most participants had never taken formal training in volunteer management before so I suppose it’s not so surprising that this fact would be news to them. Although part of me still thinks, really?, because most people are aware that there are human resource professionals to consult about paid employment, so is the fact that there are human resource professionals to consult about people who work for free really such a stretch? In many ways I think the job of a manager of volunteers is even that much harder than that of an HR person. In our case, we can’t offer the person pay, so we absolutely need to find other ways to motivate them. It’s part of the creativity and craft of this profession.
Of course it takes professional development and training to learn how to do this well!
If you’re one of those people who is just getting your feet wet in volunteer management here are some of those resources that I mentioned earlier. These are a good place to start self-educating when learning about the field. (Maybe there’s an “aha” moment in store somewhere there for you too!)
From Volunteer Canada to the Canadian Administrators of Volunteer Resources to the Administrators of Volunteer Resources BC to sites like Energize and documents like the Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement, we have a wide panorama of resources available to us.
And last year, the National Occupational Standards for Managers of Volunteer Resources were released for the first time by the HR Council for the Non-Profit Sector. It was a great recognition of the nature of the work that thousands of people across Canada in this field are doing.
At the very least, the National Occupational Standards can be used by anyone creating a job posting for a Manager of Volunteer Resources, undertaking a performance development process, or identifying ongoing professional development needs for those involved in managing volunteers. (And other uses are described in the NOS How-To Guide on page 3.) It is also something that can be referenced when reviewing current job descriptions to make sure they accurately reflect the entire role that the manager of volunteers is doing.
Feel free to leave a comment if you want to add in any more!