Changes

I have been involved with RAAVS for almost two decades and I have seen so many changes. The most drastic to me has been the membership. I recall years when the number of members were up over 125. Currently we have 66 members. We have never really taken an official poll but my gut tells me the reason for decreased membership are the changes that we are seeing in the world of nonprofit and the role of the Volunteer Administrator and whether or not that position still exists in agencies in the community. I recently read an article on the consequences on volunteers when the Volunteer Manager position is eliminated or additional responsibilities are added to the role of the persons whose job it is to recruit and retain volunteer support. Internally, it is never easy when someone working with volunteers is released, has their position eliminated or changed so drastically that additional responsibilities must take precedence. In the world of Volunteer Management the turmoil is not just felt by the person who must leave or shift priorities, but other staff may need to fill in and handle the additional work load for which they might not have training for. Often these changes are difficult for existing volunteers who have built a relationship with the Volunteer Administrator and do not know where to go for support or questions about half-finished projects. Volunteers can often feel cut off from the organization without consistent explanation and contact.

What do these changes in our profession mean for us remaining RAAVS members? Lower membership means less involvement; fewer people to take on roles that are important to the success of our group. If networking, training and conference opportunities are to continue, the remaining RAAVS members need to make the commitment to get more involved. Members need to help with planning, make an extra effort to join in on meetings, social events and invite colleagues’ who might have something to offer members in the way of creative new ideas and professional development. The years that I have spent with RAAVS have been valuable ones. Many veteran volunteer administrators helped me to develop strong practices and skills. It is my hope that I continue to offer something to professionals who are new to the field and that as a group we can continue to grow and support each other.

Tina Bennett
RAAVS Secretary