Please find below AVM's letter in response to the Third Sector article on Francis Maude's speech last week.
The Association of Volunteer Managers notes that Francis Maude MP has some perception of the issues facing managers of volunteers and volunteers, and welcomes any ideas he might have for enhancing and facilitating the involvement of volunteers through volunteer management. However, from the context in which his speech was reported in Third Sector (30 June 11), it appears that he believes increasing the number of managers of volunteers would mean that more volunteers are able to be involved. This seems similar to the previous Government's belief that more volunteers equals better and more effective services provided by volunteer involving organisations. Involving volunteers effectively is however far more complex than simply a numbers game.
Mr Maude identified the need for training as key for any public sector workers wishing to become managers of volunteers. As with any profession, training is key to learning the necessary skills to be able to work in that profession, however it seems that Mr Maude fails to take into account that the need for practical experience is as much, if not more, needed in mastering a profession.
There seems to be a perception that managing volunteers is easy and that anyone with even the smallest amount of management experience can do it. If Mr Maude's remarks as reported are indeed accurate and represent the views of the Coalition Government it would seem that (as with the previous Government) they still have much to learn about both volunteering and volunteer management.
While up-skilling potential and existing managers of volunteers is vital in developing the effectiveness of volunteer involvement it can only be realised through good governance and proper resourcing. If Mr Maude and the Coalition Government are serious about supporting volunteering and realising the Big Society, their focus should be in encouraging the senior management teams and trustee boards of volunteer involving organisations to invest accordingly and in proportion to the vital nature of volunteer support and involvement..
Chair, Association of Volunteer Managers