Friday, 15 July 2011

Observations on an advert for a volunteer manager

Whilst catching up with my email etc. after a couple of days away I this morning noticed this advert for a volunteer manager post at a UK charity.
Purpose: To grow and co-ordinate voluntary activity across the organisation through the delivery of professionally central services, resources and tools for staff, volunteers, projects,  patient and fundraising groups and partner organisations; the role will involve some direct supervision of volunteers 

Reporting to: Chief Executive  
Responsible for:
Key relationships - Internal: Heads of Department, Development Co-ordinators; Community Fundraisers; other staff and volunteers. 
Key relationships - External: 
Volunteering organisations and brokerage agencies in England, Scotland and Wales; healthcare professionals; relevant health and voluntary sector groups and alliances

Key Result Areas  
1. Develop a volunteering strategy within the framework of the organisations Business and Departmental Plans
2. Ensure that policies, standards and best practice for effective volunteer management are in place for recruiting ,inducting, supporting, training, recognising and promoting volunteers

3. Provide expert advice, support and coaching to staff, volunteers and trustees on all matters relating to volunteering 
4. Generate and maintain up-to-date information on national/regional/local volunteering roles, and volunteer projects and pilots, based on the needs of the charity and its beneficiaries; 
5. Research, recommend and develop new volunteering roles and projects 

6. Broaden the range of people involved in voluntary work at the organisation 
7. Ensure training and personal development opportunities for volunteers are provided to meet the charity’s and volunteers’ needs 
8. Lead or support others in volunteer recruitment and ensure volunteers are appropriately matched, inducted and trained 
9. Encourage colleagues to think laterally to foster understanding of the value of the volunteer contribution and to build growth and commitment 
10. Monitor and report progress against agreed voluntary activity in key areas; produce a monthly report 
11. Attend relevant external voluntary and health sector meetings 
12. Manage a volunteering budget and ensure offer of volunteer expenses; 
13. Undertake any other reasonable duties compatible with the post
In some ways this a good role.  Not many volunteer managers report to the CEO, although many wish they did.  They're not just looking for someone to manage the volunteers but to work with colleagues at all levels across the organisation to enhance the contribution volunteers make to the mission.  Furthermore they want someone who can engage with volunteerism networks and with professionals in the field the organisation works in.
In summary there seems to be some committment to volunteering at this organisation and investment being put into leadership and management to support this.
Or is there?
The hours advertised for this post are 17.5 a week (assuming a usual working week of 35 hours that 2.5 days a week).  That's a huge job in such a small amount of time.
And the pay?  £21,000 pro rata, or £10,500 a year.  
That's well below what I would expect for a role that is as critical to the organisation as this one seems to be.  
Compare that with a Head of Fundraising post the same organisation advertised for earlier this year.  Also reporting to the CEO this was full time and paid...£40,000. 
My point?
I know the labour market is tough at the moment.  
I know the financial environment is tough at the moment and is probably not going to get better any time soon.
But when are organisations like this one going to wake up to the fact that the effective leadership, engagement and deployment of volunteers is something that demands proper investment and is at least as important (if not more so in the current economic climate) as fundraising.

1 comment:

  1. Brave post Rob, opening up the arena to level criticism at the volunteering infrastructure organisations that have received many thousands of government pounds, and yet have failed to successfully change this situation.

    Don't get me wrong, the Valuing Volunteer Managers project did what it set out to do, but maybe the targets set for it were not the right targets.

    I often look at the adverts and have been known to ring organisations up and wonder what assistance they have had in putting together the job description, person specification and pitching the role within the organisation.

    Some of what I have heard: "I have never volunteered or managed volunteers, but I have worked in volunteer involving organisations all my life so know exactly what we are looking for" I later met the Head of Volunteering they appointed, she too had never volunteered or managed volunteers, is it any wonder that the organisation concerned has still, 2 years later, not managed to develop a volunteering strategy that is fit for purpose? Or a current national organisation currently recruiting for a Head of Volunteering sole operator to bring together the volunteering strategies of 2 distinct organisations where there is currently some internal conflict, and roll out one organisation-wide way of doing things - salary £46, or a fundraising team leader responsible for maintaining existing contacts and working to a Head of department as part of a large team - salary £48 where is the sense in this.

    Unless these practices are challenged they will remain the status quo, the question is who will challenge? The Board of AVM are either in full time employment and don't really have the time to do this, those of us like myself or your good self Rob who freelance are in a difficult position - are we really challenging or could it be seen as touting for business in which case we could be alienating potential clients more than we may be bringing them on line.

    And in the meantime, our infrastructure bodies are crumbling, and are trying to ensure their own continuance.

    Maybe there is a call for some of the newly released funding to be used to proactively work with organisations who are recruiting in order to educate them not only about the benefits of proper investment in the management of volunteers, but also the risks of failure to do so.

    Phew! That's a load of hot air released - what do others think?