(Beginning of Hot Topic)
Yes, there is a need for people who work in similar settings to connect with each other, in addition to being part of the generic volunteer professional networks. This is why the field will always need associations of volunteer resource managers in healthcare or justice or parks and recreation. The strategic point is that we need both types of groups, not one or the other.
Whether at the local, state/provincial, or national levels, setting-specific organizations must:
- Connect their members to the generic volunteerism organizations – and resources - in order to learn about and participate in the best practices of the field in general.
- Build on – not duplicate – certification programs by adding setting-specific criteria and designations. Someone who becomes certified in volunteer administration ought to be able to use that credential anywhere to prove basic knowledge, earning additional “qualified in _____” designations to show competency in how ever many settings s/he works during a career in the field.
- Focus on setting-specific issues and help members to understand, interpret, and apply trends in that field to their work with volunteers.
- Represent volunteerism practitioners to the other professions working in that profession, including providing training sessions at cross-professional conferences and inviting other professions to speak at volunteer management events.
- Conduct research that is actually comparable because of similarity of settings, such as: numbers and types of volunteers involved, diversity of volunteer roles, salary and budget levels, etc. And then create and disseminate reports within decision-making circles of that setting to advocate for stronger volunteer involvement.
Note that this applies equally to Workplace Volunteer Councils!