Guest writer Sarah Jane Rehnborg wonders if we sell ourselves short by not clarifying our language and by lumping all manners and forms of service within one broad and reasonably useless classification of "volunteer."
Susan admits to dissatisfaction at the repetitive format of professional conferences that have a "sameness" that is increasingly feeling dull. What other options are there for producing great learning events?
Leaders of volunteers around the globe are making conscious efforts to connect with one another and we need to foster such communication more actively. Looking ahead to the UN's International Year of Volunteers 2001, we can take advantage of this pending event to create exchanges among the leaders of volunteer efforts -- beyond IYV. [This Hot Topic remained active through August 1998 to permit more responses from global colleagues.]
We say we value professional networking, so why does it seem to be so hard to get leaders of volunteers to connect? Susan poses some nagging questions -- what do YOU think?
Susan proposes twelve professional New Year's resolutions. If once a month we each take some action on these small but vital things, the field of volunteerism will be strengthened over the next twelve months.
The sex-typing of volunteering as feminine--and the disproportionate number of women in director of volunteer positions--needs to be acknowledged and addressed. This is a complex issue and manifests itself in numerous ways. It's impossible for me to fully address it in this column, however I can certainly introduce questions to begin the dialogue.
Susan responds to colleague Sarah Elliston's observation that, "...volunteers are like the third branch of the organization and should be considered as such. I wonder if we are doing a disservice to be suggesting they are like paid staff."
While volunteer management has been evolving over the past decades, some questions are still unanswered, particularly whether or not we can identify our work as a "profession."
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