The Island


I am sitting with my coffee early Saturday morning reading The NonProfitTimes when I came across Susan J. Ellis, President of Energize Inc., article titled “The Organizational Chart: Decisions on Where Volunteer Engagement Belongs.”

This article got me thinking about my title – Volunteer and Communications Director and where I am “housed”.  In my 13 years in the field, I have maybe come across someone with my same title once or twice. I have a dual role, so I report to our Communications Officer and to our Chief Operating Officer.

In the article Susan talks about the benefits and challenges of reporting to marketing and public relations staff, human resources, placed within the executive offices or as an independent volunteer resource department.

There is no perfect placement for what we do, to show the value an organization places on the volunteer resource manager. From reading her article, I think it comes down to what makes sense for your organization based on your size and talents of your team.

For me, the dual title, can be challenging at times, but it makes sense and I am surprised more organizations, especially smaller non profits aren’t doing the same thing.  Where do you find your stories to share with the community? Who are the people most passionate to tell the story? Who can provide you valuable information about programs and services being delivered in the community?  VOLUNTEERS!!

I see communications and volunteer management going hand-in-hand. By telling the story of our volunteers and what they do in the community, I am helping recruit new volunteers and increasing retention and recognition by valuing the great work being done by our volunteer workforce.

I would love to hear the opinion of other volunteer managers. Where are you “housed”? What are your thoughts on a dual role?

2 thoughts on “The Island

  1. Thanks so much, Jody, for your thoughtful response to my column — and for opening the discussion to all! I love that.

    It does sound as if you are in the right “spot” for your organization, you personally, and the 2 people to whom you report. I think the double reporting is what makes this really extraordinary. Bravo!

    You are on-target in observing that there is no perfect placement for the leader of volunteer involvement. In your case, your attitude that volunteers can drive positive communications makes lots of sense. Unfortunately, some organizations put the volunteer function into pr/marketing/communications because all they think about is recruitment. The more important issue is whether you can effectively design work for volunteers, help the staff to support volunteers, etc. — the “inside” tasks rather than the “outside” ones. That is a huge component of volunteer management which, in most organizations, does not comfortably fit with the person dealing in pr. But it does for you. So go for it!

    Thanks again. Looking forward to other comments.


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