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International Volunteer Managers Day: Long-term Volunteer Manager

5 Nov 2019 - 15:52 by aleena.khan

International Volunteer Managers Day (IVMDay) was founded and observed for the first time in 1999. It is celebrated every year on November the 5th. This year, it is in its 20th year, and is under the theme “Change the Tune!” to reflect the frustrations experienced in the sector and giving a chance for us to differently about how volunteer leadership is positioned – in the hope that we can change the dialogue. Read more about it here.

Today we are sharing the stories of Volunteer Co-ordinators across Manchester to help raise the profile of the role and the skill that goes into making volunteering happen! Share your stories using the hashtag #IVMDay2019 and remember to tag us on Twitter

Name: Norman Shaw

Organisation: Speaking as a volunteer manager across many organisations over time.

What inspired you to want to work with volunteers?
Having changed career, I started off as a volunteer counsellor and subsequently got the volunteering bug, and which eventually led me to becoming a volunteer manager.
So rather then being inspired, it was more by osmosis!

What does a typical work day look like for you?
In the main recruitment and selection, liaising with brokers, "interviewing" and supporting volunteers as required. Allied to wider organisational duties, aims and objectives.

What is the thing that you love most about your job?
I am fortunate that the current organisation I work for, (which is fantastic) genuinely embraces volunteering, and from a volunteer manager’s perspective see volunteer managers as an equal to those who manage paid staff (That is so important!)

What is the most challenging part of your job?
"Educating" people with the community and indeed sadly within the voluntary sector, who see volunteering and volunteers as less than those people who are paid!

What advice would you give to someone new to the role of managing volunteers?

Never see volunteer management through rose coloured spectacles! (There is good bad and ugly, the same as anywhere else)

Having been in volunteer management for over 20 years, in this time many of the questions that were asked of the sector years ago are still being asked today.
As such, be wary of those who ask the questions but never implement the answers, be that at government, national, local and/or organisational levels.
Over 20 years I have seen a whole circuit conference/training industry grow up around asking of the same questions of volunteer managers, but in reality very little actually changes.

Find the people who make changes not just talk about them... they are rare, but they are out there.

What is your favourite volunteer-related memory/experience?
Supporting a volunteer to become a volunteer manager in their own right, in passing on all of my knowledge, skills, awareness, experience and expertise, plus an ability to stand ones ground in the role. 
So that person will surpass me and become better than me in the role.

Any words of wisdom for volunteers?
Never show automatic deference to people who can't and/or won't appreciate the value of volunteers and or volunteering. Typically, in my experience, HR managers/departments.

Always remember that as a volunteer manager you are managing people who receive no salary. As such, ask your-self and others who may think they are better than you because they manage paid staff this question.

"If you took the salary away of those you manage, would they turn up in the morning!?"

You are at least equal to any other manager of people!

Be yourself as a volunteer manager, champion the cause, don’t be fluffy and stand your ground in the support of volunteers and volunteerism, and of course volunteer managers. Others will only take you seriously when you or we as a group take ourselves seriously and see ourselves as equals!


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