Succession planning in the voluntary sector is a big deal. It needs to be discussed with every member of your volunteer team – at the time of induction and from time-to-time once work begins.
With this in mind, ‘short-term’ is not the hairy monster that it once was. Today huge numbers of generation Y (18 years through to 28 years) are keen to be volunteers and make a difference not just to the community, but to the world. Since April last year until January this year, we have welcomed 1154 generation Y volunteer seekers through our doors.
These young people are bright, willing, generous, creative, keen to achieve results, and often only interested in working for a short time. Maybe they are soon to be taking up full-time positions, or changing their study schedule, or going away or keen to try another voluntary role. In the meantime they have valuable energy and new ideas.
Emma Cahilog was manager of volunteer programmes with Volunteer Service in Nepal for three years. Short-term volunteers approached her from all over the world. Her achievement with this added ‘labour’ was to build a number of substantial dwellings which became a children’s orphanage and school in a village southeast of Kathmandu.
Part of the Nepal Volunteer Service brief for volunteers was to write up a summary of their tasks and impressions. Often after only a month of working they wrote an easy-to-follow outline for their successor, who could be from Ethiopia, New Zealand or anywhere else in the world. One volunteer who worked with Emma reflected; ‘It is the one who volunteers – who tries to give – who receives the most. I was part of these children’s lives for one month – a tiny footnote as their story moves forward – I won’t forget them.’
Closer to home Claire Balgan from the Philippines, and for the past 18 months an accounting student at Victoria University, is an example of how succession plans can work right here in Wellington. Claire became our volunteer secretary to the board of trustees last year. She attended all monthly meetings, caught on to the politics and philosophy of governance with a not-for-profit agency, and wrote clear, well-worded minutes. She was a gem. Moving back home to the Philippines is Claire’s next move.
Volunteer Wellington will miss her contribution but we are also excited about her ‘successor’. As the managers of our volunteer programme, we made it obvious to Claire the value of her role. She had enjoyed the work and was eager to establish continuity. She talked among student friends – ‘you learn a lot, they’re a great bunch to work with, it’s a brilliant experience if you ever want to work in the community field.’
Her enthusiasm has borne fruit. Jessie Black, a second year law student, is carrying on the secretary role. Her goal is to one day work for an international NGO. This experience will be part of her journey. She was also impressed with Claire’s ‘promotional and advocacy’ conversations. This done enthusiastically is the essence of volunteer team succession planning.
For more information ring Volunteer Wellington on 4994572.