What kind of a person enables volunteers to meet serious community needs like homelessness, environmental disasters, hunger, illiteracy, and more? Volunteer Coordinators! That’s why I’m so excited for the upcoming International Volunteer Managers Day on November 5!
As stated on the International Volunteer Managers Day web site, “volunteering does not succeed in a vacuum. Behind this army of volunteers lies an equally dedicated group of individuals and agencies who are responsible for the coordination, support, training, administration and recruitment of the world’s volunteers – skilled professionals who are adept at taking singular passion and turning it into effective action.” It’s a wonderful thing to know that this service is recognized by nonprofit organizations, cities, states, and countries throughout the world.
In Maryland in 1989 – 10 years before the founding of International Volunteer Managers Day – Governor William Donald Schaefer commissioned studies to identify the best approach for leveraging additional volunteers in Maryland communities. Not surprisingly, the research findings showed that nonprofits sorely needed volunteer help to serve their clients and, overwhelmingly, citizens wished to serve in their local communities. At about the same time, the Commission on National and Community Service began awarding grants to fund demonstration programs as part of the National and Community Service Act of 1990. As a result of both of these efforts, Volunteer Maryland was born in 1992 as a volunteer generator program.
Since then, 557 AmeriCorps members, serving as Volunteer Maryland Coordinators, have created and improved volunteer programs at nonprofits throughout our state – programs that have sustained themselves and continued to serve their communities long after the AmeriCorps service year. That is what’s amazing about Volunteer Coordinators: it’s not just about recruiting volunteers; it’s about creating sustainable programs, recruiting the right volunteers for the right positions, and retaining great people to meet serious needs.
There’s been such a push for increasing volunteerism over the last 20 years – and I’m all for that push. But if we really want to see the impact of volunteers, then we need to create lasting programs to support their efforts. International Volunteer Managers Day recognizes that it takes a certain kind of person, one with incredible skills, knowledge, and abilities, to make that happen.
So please join me on November 5 in recognizing the incredible service provided by Volunteer Coordinators and Volunteer Managers. Because of them, millions of volunteers are able to turn their passion into effective action.