This is the first in a series of blog posts focussed around pre-empting volunteers departures and learning from the ones who have already gone. It was inspired by a great blog post on IVO by Karice Baker-Quow entitled:
“It was all so beautiful in the beginning; the initial phone call was full of hope and enthusiasm, you both laughed and there was lovely rapport. E-mails were exchanged and then the meeting. You were both nervous at first, but you eventually fell in to comfortable conversation. It felt so right and your relationship just took off… But that was then. Now all you have left are your memories. Remember the days when you’d get a call if things had changed? Or when s/he’d make an effort to be there at all of your important occasions? Now you’re lucky if you receive a call at all and you can’t even remember the last time s/he bothered to attend anything. Yes, the volunteer/volunteer manager relationship can fall apart so easily with one party (the volunteer manager in this case) wondering where it all went wrong and what s/he could have done differently. Where once you were full of confidence, now you’re scared to let another volunteer in to your office for fear of history repeating itself.”
I run a training session on this topic, following appeals from a number of volunteer managers on how to deal with disappearing volunteers! Many volunteer managers can’t understand why a volunteer’s leaving or already left and it’s wrong to allocate blame without investigating the reasons why a volunteer goes. Sometimes it’s down to poor volunteer management but equally, it can be down to a volunteer’s personal circumstances on many occasions.
As an independent mediator when things do go wrong and the Volunteer Centre is called in to attempt to resolve a situation to both sides’ satisfaction, I get to see both sides of the problem, so am attempting to share some experiences and learning from both the volunteer manager’s and volunteer’s perspectives! Ambitious eh? Hope you enjoy reading them 🙂