The New Volunteerism Project
Ivan Henry Scheier
Empowerment of the Professional
|The page #'s refer to the pages
of the "New Volunteerism Project: The Ivan Scheier Archival Collection."
Five bound volumes placed in the Reference collection of the
Dayton Memorial Library at Regis University
|Table of Contents||Page #|
|"Moving Along: Case Studies of Career Paths for Volunteer Coordinators" ©||1|
|"The Part-Time Profession:©||2|
|Empowerment Series in The Journal of Volunteer Administration||3|
|"On a Personal Note Professional, Too" ©||24-25|
|"Creating Careers for Volunteer Coordinators" ©||26-32|
|"X-Rated Organizations, Expendable Professionals, and a Modest Proposal" ©||33|
|Notes * An asterisk indicates only a summary is available at this time.|
permission for use-with-acknowledgment
Introductory Notes on Empowerment of the Professional
The professional referred to here is primarily the Director or Coordinator of Volunteers, but can also include more generally, leaders of volunteers and activists in a community. The Director/Coordinator of Volunteers especially, is, in my opinion among the most, talented, over-worked and undervalued individual in any career. I have been fixated on fixing this situation throughout my career; most of my work bears on the empowerment of this professional in one way or another, directly or indirectly; for example, in the following other packets comprising this collection:
- The staff/volunteer section (XIV) is designed to reduce the staff/agency resistance which minimizes both the importance and the effectiveness of the volunteer coordinator.
- The section on expanding the universe of participants (VII) has as a primary intention, enabling greater versatility for the professional in the kinds of people and work conditions with whom she/he can work in a true orchestration of community resources. The expansion also implies more options in work setting for the professional, both in and out of service agencies.
- The proposal for matching citizen participation, (XI, Feasible Fundraising) makes a showing of significant genuine citizen participation more central on successful grants. In so doing, it also makes the person responsible for such participation, more important and valued.
- Especially in the section on philosophy, (I) I have complained about the predominantly derivative nature of our methodology in volunteerism, from which flows, I believe, a diminished perception of its integrity and importance. Give this belief, I have consistently attempted to develop methods based directly on the uniqueness/specialness of who we work with.
The following items are newly enclosed for the present section:
A -- Some indication of the problem area ("solutions" too?)
- "Moving Along: Case Studies of Career Paths for Volunteer Coordinators@ Ó In the Winter, 1985-86 issue of The Journal of Volunteer Administration. ((A large percentage of professionals inhabiting the field as narrowly defined, are leaving or redefining (enlarging) it.)) (page 1)
- "The Part-Time Profession: Percent and Nature of Time Investment In the Volunteer Leadership Career@ * 1987, 1-page summary of an 8-page limited circulation pamphlet, now out of print, originally produced by the Center for Creative Community. (If you=re looking for decent pay and full-time focus as a harbinger of importance for the profession, look elsewhere. But maybe the typical multiple role responsibilities have some positive implications, too. (See D below) (page 2)
B -- Empowerment Series in The Journal of Volunteer Administration
The Profession of volunteer administration is understood broadly to include any volunteer or paid career significantly involving leadership of volunteers. By Empowerment is meant enhanced statues and respect for the careerists and the volunteers they serve. We also mean more generous resource allocation in support of the volunteer programs and groups served by volunteer administrators.
- AWhat=s in Our Name@ Ó (Summer, 1988) (page 4-6)
This article looked at labels for what people generally classed as volunteer administrators actually do. We found frequent justification for broader, more inclusive and hence more impressive titles such as "Community resource development specialist," Community resource manager," "Community relations coordinator," and the like. We also found that a significant number of people who used to call themselves "volunteer administrators" or a similar title, were beginning to change their names to the broader, and we believe more powerful titles. While" it is all too easy for an uneducated (on volunteers) executive to downplay a person labeled as only responsible for volunteers ." That same executive might "...think twice, or even thrice before trivializing the work of a person who, as part of a seamless package, was bringing in, not only volunteers, but also materials, equipment, money, information, and community support."
- ASeeing Ourselves As More Than Subsidiary@ Ó (Fall, 1988) (page B7-B12)
The first article dealt with a narrow-broad polarity in professional self-concept. This article deals with a subsidiary-autonomous one. The point is that " insofar as volunteer administration continues to see itself as derivative, passive and dependent, others naturally tend to see us in the same way. Beginning to define ourselves as powerful, active and autonomous is the first step in becoming so." Tactics discussed here included: 1) concentrate more on settings, such as the entirely volunteer group and the freelance volunteer in which volunteers are more independent and self-directed. 2) Invest more in identifying and highlighting what is special in volunteerism, hence where we are experts and teachers and hence more powerful (e.g. intangible rewards are at least as important as money in producing a high quality worklife. Finally, 3) take statements of the type "how does the economy affect volunteerism?" and convert from passive to active by considering instead: "how does volunteerism impact the economy?"
- Leverage Points and Process@ Ó (Winter 1988-89) (page 13-20)
The question here is: how can our relatively limited resources be leveraged to produce maximum empowerment for the profession? The article argues this can best be done by 1) targeting a more widespread responsibility for positive change, in the volunteer-program sponsoring organization rather than expecting the individual volunteer administrator to carry so much weight as change agent, 2) paying more attention to how we motivate organizations and individuals to comply with ideal standards, once we have articulated them. Organization incentives discussed include that the guidelines and standards themselves be credible and valid, clear, concise, appropriately flexible, do-able, learnable (with definite help from us) and precise in distinguishing who is responsible for what. Standards development should be participative; observance solemnized in writing; and encouragement for compliance by organizational recognition, and, where possible, making supplies of both volunteers and money, contingent on observance of the standards.
C -- The above three articles lay out my general position on empowerment of the professional, as of 10-12 years ago. The following article is a more current version:
- On a Personal Note:B Professional, TooÓ 2 pages in Grapevine, Sept/Oct 1997. (Pages 24-25)
D -- Defining and Opening Up More Career Paths
- "Creating Careers for Volunteer Coordinators@ Ó 6 pages, in The Journal of Volunteer Administration, Winter 1992-93. (Sixteen actual or conceivable career track are outlined in this article. Only a few of them have been explored in more depth; these include AThe Neighborhood Enabler and The Consultant/Producer to entirely Volunteer Groups (both in the section on strengthening volunteer groups) and the Dreamcatcher ( in the section on Making Dreams Come True). (pages 26-32)
- Making Volunteer Program Seriousness Count: Putting Teeth in Evaluations of Volunteer Programs. (And hence making the job of volunteer coordinator more important)
- "X-Rated Organizations, Expendable Professionals, and a Modest Proposal@ Ó 1-page in Grapevine, July/August 1997. (Page E1)
The Afterward as Heartbreak
Some five years after the end of my active involvement in the field of Volunteer Administration, I had occasion to talk shop with some ten professionals in the field. bright, caring, skillful, committed Bthe quantity of the people had not changed nor, sadly, had the quantity of the frustration. The same old dis-empowerment blockages were discussed with the same old remedies (though some there thought they were fresh insights, and that only added to my personal frustration). Once again, I experience a desperate reminder that B sorryBtinkering with the old system, however skillfully, is not the solution. There have to be some systemic changes in the role itself and its social/instructional setting and context, and alas, having made some suggestions to that end, I don't see that happening. Another thirty years, perhaps, or never....
An asterisk indicates only a summary is available at this time
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