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3 min read

Bug or Butterfly?

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Have you ever considered the lifecycle of the average volunteer program manager?

We tend to run through a busy lifecycle that includes the planning and preparation for each new volunteer intake, the facilitation of information sessions and publicity, conducting the seemingly ‘never ending’ process of interviews, running orientation days, educating at training sessions and performing on-going volunteer evaluations.

To further complete the cycle, we have to attend an ever increasing number of meetings, complete a growing pile of reports, and operate highly effective volunteer week and end-of-year volunteer recognition functions – while all the time wearing a smile on our face!

It’s little wonder we are exhausted when the last of our volunteers leave for their annual vacation!

Thoughts of CS Lewis’ ‘Narnia’ come readily to mind – where it was ‘always winter .but never Christmas’ , and I wonder how many of us ever take the opportunity to step back, evaluate our progress and celebrate our achievements?

Sadly the effects of this ‘lifecycle’ can be seen and measured by the high turnover rate of those in our profession, and by the many others who through burn-out, simply no longer have the time or inclination to get involved in opportunities for professional development or networking.

If we were to compare ourselves to butterflies, I wonder how many of us ever have the opportunity to move beyond the ‘bug’ stages of being either a caterpillar or withdrawing into our cocoons?

How many of us ever show our true colours and potential by becoming a butterfly and soaring high – even if only occasionally and for short periods of time?

The beginning of any year offers the ideal opportunity to make this happen and to create some resolutions of change:

  • To make the new year a time when personal as well as organizational goals can be set and achieved
  • To resolve to put some time aside for you in the midst of a busy schedule. Take up a hobby, read a book, or dare I say it – go do some volunteer work for another agency!
  • To commit to joining a newsgroup (or posting more regularly if you are already a member) , attending a conference or to reading that pile of year old journals in the corner of your office
  • To read two new books on the topic of volunteerism
  • To link with a colleague doing similar work either in your home country or overseas, to compare notes on the work you do, to exchange ideas and to offer mutual peer support to one another
  • To pencil into your diary regular ‘time out’ periods in which to have lunch with a work colleague or even one or two of your program’s volunteers once a week, fortnight or month
  • To play more and worry less
  • To spend more time with your family and less time at the office.
  • To deliberately change your work patterns. Maybe ask your boss about working from home a day a week.
  • To delegate more
  • To be an advocate for ‘volunteerism’ by writing letters to the editor on issues you believe are misrepresented in the media
  • Make a commitment to attend your local volunteer managers network group or join a committee on a topic which interests you, perhaps through your local volunteer center

Planning personal as well as organizational objectives not only allows for much needed respite throughout the year, but has the added benefit of helping you to keep ‘fresh’ while retaining your sanity at the same time!

So what’s stopping you?

Do it now!

Pick up that diary before it gets too full, and start to schedule some time for you!

Plan to be a butterfly for at least a little time this year – I guarantee that you will appreciate it, and better still others will take notice.

Please get started by sharing at least one goal that you pledge to achieve in 2021!


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