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Ok, so maybe we, volunteers managers can’t control everything in our little sphere (gasp, but I want to, so, so, so badly). Maybe we sometimes retreat to a fantasy world in our heads that exists across from the “10 super easy ways to get volunteers” list that inhabits our nightmares.

Is that so bad? Well, no, not when you consider that maybe our fantasies are really brightly disguised goals on steroids. Unless of course the fantasies involve the demise of someone at work, then, well, find some help, ok?
But positive fantasies can tell us a lot about our wishes and dreams and dismissing them as nonsense may also help push our goals to the back of our minds (next to the dream of being the first person ever to have dinner with Bigfoot-in the forest, with wine, a nice Chablis, but I digress). So heck, let’s just descend into a positive fantasy world for a moment where we can let our volunteer manager minds run wild. What would we fantasize about?

  • A volunteer manager is chosen as CEO after the CEO quits in frustration while yelling, “No one, and I mean no one, except that amazing volunteer manager we have, what’s his name again, can do this job!!!”
  • At the all-staff end of year meeting, the award for ‘Supreme Being of All Things Non-Profit’ which is only given out once in the entire life of the organization, goes to…. YOU! And then, everyone would sit through fourteen hours of long speeches about how volunteer management saved the organization (dinner and yummy rainbow cupcakes would be served, of course, in between speeches).
  • At the annual volunteer appreciation luncheon, the CEO, when giving the welcome speech, says, “..and we couldn’t do it without our volunteers.” Then she stops and with a wink adds, “Wait, that’s just lip service. We really mean that and I will show you.” At that, the curtain opens and every staff member comes flooding out to mingle with the crowd of happy volunteers. There are hugs and tears and stories and neck massages and homemade cards and selfies that all culminate in the entire room singing “We Are The Champions” with locked arms. And no one would forget about it the next day.
  • The board of directors, in their quarterly meeting, all stand up in unison, rip up their prepared agendas and with one clear voice declare, “We hereby unanimously elect to increase the salary of our volunteer manager in proportion to the money saved by utilizing volunteer resources. Hey, that looks to be about $76,000, and that means no gala for at least five years, but what the heck, it’s worth it!”
  • At a new project exploratory meeting, one of the senior managers muses, “We need some fresh thinking from someone who has all the skills necessary to help us get this new project off the ground, someone who is creative, has people-skills, professional management ability, public speaking chops, mediation experience and is a darned nice person to boot!” At which every other manager moans that there is no such person on the planet and that same senior manager lifts up her hands and yells, “yes there is! Our volunteer coordinator!”

Ahhhhhhhhh, I can’t stop smiling. That felt doggone delicious. But anyway, positive fantasies just might be an exaggeration of our heart’s desires. We can shut them out or we can turn them over in our heads and look at them as a springboard to work towards personal goals. Do we want more respect, salary, recognition, voice or any number of positive outcomes? What are your positive professional fantasies and how do you achieve these goals?

Hard work is not something that chases volunteer managers in nightmares. No, hard work is the stuff of our every day working lives. Our fantasy goals, once sorted out in logical thinking, will require that same hard work.

Don’t feel alone in fantasizing about positive changes. There is an entire community all around us of volunteer resource managers working to create positive change.

And we all fantasize too.