MAVA Response to the 2004
Volunteer Management Capacity Study
August 10, 2004
Katie Campbell, CVA
On behalf of the
Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA), congratulations on
the outstanding work you are doing in regard to coordinating “From Research to
Action: A Unified National Response to the 2004 Volunteer Management Capacity
Study.” It was wonderful to be a part of one of your
recent focus groups. MAVA also applauds the study sponsors: The UPS Foundation, Corporation for National
and Community Service, and USA Freedom Corps for commissioning the Urban
Institute study. In recent months, MAVA has been developing and stepping up
efforts to advocate for many of the ideas expressed in the report with an eye
toward capacity building for volunteer programs.
Following you will find
additional comments on behalf of MAVA in regard to the study and in response to
your request for review and reaction:
- The profession of
volunteer resources management must be more broadly recognized as a legitimate
and essential function.
- A very critical issue is
the lack of funding to support the infrastructure for volunteer administration
and volunteer resources managers. Many organizations do not have the funds to
hire a volunteer resources manager or even provide the match funds for national
service participants, let alone defray the expenses of their volunteers. Beyond
this, very limited resources are available to support local connector
organizations and volunteer resource centers.
- A new mindset is called
for about the importance of investing in volunteer administration, volunteer
resource managers and related resource organizations. We are heartened to learn
that new funds are about to be made available nationally for the purpose of
building volunteer management capacity. However,
unless there is substantial funding that is disseminated nationwide and reaches
a wide spectrum of organizations, including local level, direct service
organizations and grass roots organizations, it will be difficult to achieve
the change called for in this report.
- With regard to connector
organizations, in addition to strengthening existing volunteer resource
centers, funds are needed to assure distribution of connector organizations
statewide. Connector organizations are necessary in both rural and urban areas
and must reach communities of all sizes. These connector
organizations need the training, experience and expertise required for
success. Experienced volunteer resources
managers and experts in volunteer resource management must be involved in the
training and support of these organizations.
- Professional associations
play an instrumental role in preparing, training and motivating volunteer
resources managers. They help to build and promote the body of knowledge about
best practices, and bring together leaders in the field to advance the
profession. They too are in need of resources to fulfill their mission.
- Volunteer resources
managers often have other responsibilities and assignments tagged onto their
jobs. And, people in other positions,
often have volunteer resources management responsibilities tagged onto their jobs.
The role and responsibility of the volunteer resources manager parallels other
significant positions within nonprofit organizations, yet volunteer resources
managers often are paid substantially less. If best practices are to be
implemented and maintained, more dedicated time for this purpose and a salary
that matches the level of responsibility of the position are essential.
- With regard to national
service participants assisting volunteer resource managers, a realistic view of
what is possible is needed. Consideration must be given to the quick turnover
of people who are placed in these roles and the initial training that is
required for effectiveness. It is critical to assure that anyone who is
assisting others in establishing systems within volunteer organizations is
thoroughly trained and has the experience and expertise for success. The
credibility of the value of volunteers within organizations, effective
operation of volunteer programs, and impact and retention of volunteers is at
stake. Given that volunteer programs are currently under resourced, funds are
needed for the purpose of building up volunteer program efforts with
professional on-going staff members.
- In the event that there
is a national service placement, the volunteer resources manager must have
discretion as to the role and responsibilities of the national service
participant, while working with the participant in a mutual way to assure a
meaningful placement. Where national service participants are placed, they must
supplement and not supplant the paid volunteer resources manager.
- Benchmarks, outcome data,
and research are sorely needed. Funding is necessary to accomplish this, as
well as to assist organizations to measure the impact of their own volunteer
Once again, thank you for the opportunity to comment on this timely study. MAVA greatly values the information acquired through this study process. Please let us know how we can be of further assistance.
Best wishes on your endeavors.
Paula J. Beugen, Public Affairs Chair
Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration