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Happy IVMA Day tomorrow! November 5th is in some pretty impressive company along with Gunpowder Day (Guy Fawkes) and Men Make Dinner Day. So, after gorging on cake, opening all my presents and explaining for the 75th time that this is not a day to thank volunteers, I’m going to reflect on what this day represents. And I will be thinking about some volunteer managers who really deserve to be appreciated. These volunteer managers did not throw in the towel when faced with the challenges unique to volunteer management. Here they are in no particular order:

Volunteer coordinator Mandy who was pressured by the CEO’s executive assistant to join a secretarial association in order to secure a discount for the rest of the administrative assistant staff.  Mandy was enticed by “c’mon, you sit at a desk and you use a computer and work with email. Besides, we serve cupcakes at our meetings.”

Volunteer manager Marcus who found the CEO at his door one day asking about a volunteer who had recently died. “Who was she, where did she work,” the CEO inquired. Marcus was thrilled to see the CEO care about a long-term volunteer until the CEO said, “gosh, I really can’t picture her,” then proceeded to talk about the sizable chunk of money the volunteer left to the organization.

Volunteer manager Chelsea who was promised additional help if she doubled the volunteer base. When she asked about the additional help after increasing volunteers by 120% she was told, “but we all have to tighten our belts. Besides, it’s not like these are employees. Volunteers are easy.”

Volunteer coordinator Bennie who arrived at work one day to find his desk moved. “We hired a consultant on employee morale,” he was told, “and had to find space for her to sit.”

Part time volunteer leader Casey who went shopping and was caught by a chatty former volunteer who talked so long that she ended up wetting herself and the store’s floor.

Volunteer manager Tyreese who was instructed to create a good experience for a senior manager’s teenager daughter that needed community service hours. Tyreese spent hours working on an educational and meaningful project only to repeatedly find the teenager sitting outside on a bench texting. The next day, the senior manager presented Tyreese with a form to sign that stated the hours were complete, saying, “She’s such a bright girl, don’t you think? She wants to be a mental health therapist one day.”

Volunteer coordinator Toby who spent most of her weekend sitting by the hospital bed of a new volunteer only to find out that the volunteer wasn’t really sick in a traditional way, but actually addicted to pain killers.

Volunteer manager Miriam who spent her rainy birthday driving 54 miles with all her training gear to a rural community center where the Ladies of the “Communication Service Guild” wanted to be trained as volunteers. Not only was the center padlocked, the president’s cell number was disconnected. A soaked Miriam tripped over some slippery rocks strewn in front of the gate and fell in the mud. The next day after much trial and error, Miriam was able to reach the guild’s treasurer who said, “Oh, no, we put that off until next year. We’re just too busy working on our rock garden right now.”

Volunteer specialist Jarrel who generously invited the head fundraiser along to present at a community speaking engagement only to be talked over throughout the entire presentation. The head fundraiser breathlessly told the crowd, “what we really need is your volunteer efforts to raise more capital for us. As a matter of fact, why don’t we set up a fund-raiser right now! I’ve got a sign up sheet right here!”

Well there you have it-kudos to all the volunteer managers out there who endure the oddball insanity of volunteer management.

So, again, happy International Volunteer Manager Appreciation day! Have some cake, open all your presents and tell everyone to….   well, just enjoy!