Isolation is a common experience among managers of volunteers. ‘The CEO has no understanding of the significances and importance of our volunteer team.’ ‘ My team leader is consistently disparaging about the work done by volunteers in organisations.’
These are examples of statements from a breakfast discussion among volunteer managers at the recent Volunteering New Zealand Conference in Wellington and entitled Volunteering Unleashed. The theme for the conversation was ‘how to be supported by fellow volunteer managers’ or , in other words, peer mentoring.
The diverse breakfast group from around the country included the NZ Fire Service, National Office of the Cancer Society, St Johns, National Network for Stopping Violence, three Volunteer Centres, the National Heart Foundation and English Language Partners Dunedin.
Very quickly the skills, passion and generosity of these administrators who work with volunteers – and this varied from teams of up to 500 to rosters of five working in one office – made the point that there is no place for feeling isolated in this sector. Each person around the table had words of value to offer someone else. Educative strategies for a national programme for volunteer management, how to change board attitudes and values, and even in personnel (if needs be), how to create more flexible and challenging roles for young volunteers, were among actions being practised by different memebers of this impressive group.
As the last piece of egg, toast and coffee disappeared, conclusions were:
- Keep in touch with one another
- Use volunteer management training being offered by volunteer centres around NZ
- Join dynamic Australasian networks such as , AAVA that are now keeping volunteer managers informed and pro – active
- Support one another
For more information if you are seeking training, volunteers, advice or creative ideas ring Volunteer Wellington on 499 4572.