The Fake News Volunteer Managers Might Believe In
Read an excellent article by Meridian Swift titled “Top 6 Volunteer Manager Lies We Tell Ourselves“.
I could really identify with them and especially with number 2 that says “When I can’t provide a volunteer, I’ve failed” and number 5 which goes “I can’t make others see how important volunteering is”. So in response, I would like to dig deeper into these 2 lies, which I believe will plague most volunteer partnerships professionals as they start out, and show how these are really fake news that volunteers managers might tell themselves to sabotage themselves.
“When I can’t provide a volunteer, I’ve failed.”
As a young Volunteer Partnerships Professional many years ago, I found myself stopping myself in my tracks one day as I felt upset with myself for not being able to place volunteers. I felt bad and like a failure
But as I processed through this thought, I soon had a revelation and paradigm shift; I realised that in thinking this way, I had clean forgotten about the beneficiaries and the organization and had unknowingly taken them out of the equation. I was too focused on making sure every volunteer request is filled that I developed a false sense of personal responsibility to fill every role and/or place every volunteer; I was becoming a “job centre” for volunteers.
As a result, I might have taken up volunteer projects which totally had no value-add to the beneficiaries, organization or cause. In fact, they could have even taken valuable resources away from the organization and the cause when I thought this way and allowed for mediocre placements to just “get the job done”. I realised I was doing great injustice to the beneficiaries, organization, the volunteers and even myself as a professional.
l started to realise that I’m not God and having a successful volunteer placement that value-adds required more than just me; it also requires realistically and clearly designed roles, ample runway for recruitment, the right timing, the right volunteers responding to our call-to-action and a robust selection process that is able to identify the right volunteer for the right role.
So, as Volunteer Partnerships Professionals, we need to focus on what really matters; not on filling every role or ensuring that every volunteer that comes through the door is happily placed, but in facilitating and developing effective volunteer partnerships that are “mission-centric”., as Meridian would term it.
“I can’t make others see how important volunteering is.”
This is definitely a lie and one that does great damage to the potential and credibility of our work and the work of our volunteers; it keeps us from being successful Volunteer Partnerships Professionals and it keeps our volunteers and volunteer programmes away from success. The lie only serves to further stumble us in our roles because if we do not help them see it, others will not be able to understand why we do what we do and how volunteers can be a game changer for the non-profits they help.
As Volunteer Partnerships Professionals, we have the obligation to help others see the great potential of effective volunteer partnerships in resourcing the organization for greater impact. And parallel to the running of our volunteer programmes is the need to continually develop that deep appreciation of the value of the volunteers’ work, our volunteer programme and of the strategically important work you do. It is only so that we can continue to sustain the momentum of enabling more good through the volunteer programme.
To read about developing a culture conducive for volunteer engagement, you may wish to also read my other article on being mindset changers.
Do feel free to also share your views.
James is the Lead Thrive-Synergist & Founder of Emmaus Strategies; a social enterprise that “fuels good”. It does this through Mental Well-Being programmes for individuals and organizations, as well as Strategic Volunteer Partnerships consultancy and training for non-profits.