Volunteering is a powerful tool to transform our cities, and the lives of all those who live in them, together. But volunteer communities don’t just exist, they are created and nurtured. That is why we need Volunteer Managers. And this is why on this 5 November, International Volunteer Managers Day, we want to recognise their work.
The Serve the City movement in Belgium has steadily and gradually grown since its beginnings in 2005, counting currently with almost 2,000 active volunteers in the country. These volunteers participate regularly in the more than 100 weekly serving opportunities that we propose in Brussels, Leuven and Wavre, and support more than 7,000 vulnerable members of our society by sharing their time, knowledge, and love for the community. And their impact is incredible! According to the recent estimates in Evaluating Serve the City’s Economic Impact (Frontier Economics, 2021), in the Brussels region only the combined efforts of all these volunteers would be equivalent to at least €242,000 worth of services provided to people in need (p. 4).
Engaging in volunteering does not only have an impact on the wellbeing of those helped, but also on those who help. According to the same report, the impact of volunteering on Serve the City volunteers’ wellbeing for 2021 was estimated to be equivalent to approximatively €778,000 in total (Frontier Economics, 2021, p.14). We at Serve the City understand the value that volunteering has, and therefore, we focus on providing our volunteers with a broad variety of opportunities to serve, as much as we focus on offering high-quality opportunities to get involved in a world-wide volunteering community. In order to develop these high-quality opportunities and to nurture our local communities of volunteers, we rely on the expertise of our Volunteer Managers.
To quote volunteermanagertday.org, “Volunteer Managers change lives — both the lives of volunteers themselves and of those served by well-led volunteers. It is a life-changing profession. Volunteer managers provide the leadership and direction that allows people to build a good and just society and to mend the social fabric.”
The role of the Volunteer Manager has become essential to the functioning of our organisation and to the efficient development of a reliable, thriving volunteer community in Belgium. Initially done by volunteers themselves, our Volunteer Managers have grown with our organisation, and are now becoming paid professionals that build and support our teams of volunteers in a consistent and long-term way. Serve the City in Brussels currently counts with 2 part-time Volunteer Managers. Without them, we would not be able to coordinate the participation of the almost 2.000 volunteers than join our projects.
Members of the Serve the City Belgian core team in Brussels & Leuven, in charge of managing approx. 2,000 volunteers.
Volunteer Managers’ expertise has value
Despite working with volunteers regularly, not all the organisation can be considered experts in the field. Working with volunteers, and particularly, making these volunteers feel that they are part of a bigger movement, is not easy to master by someone that has not been properly trained to fulfil that role. That is why we have growingly focus on training our Volunteer Managers as a way to professionalised our services to volunteers and offer them an exceptional volunteering experience. We at Serve the City believe that the management of volunteers must be widely recognised as a legitimate profession, and not as a volunteer activity itself.
“Volunteer Managers lead with passion, wisdom and imagination and provide the leadership and direction that allow volunteers to contribute to the community. Without their professional leadership, people’s time, talents and efforts would be wasted.”, on the word of Volunteering WA
The Volunteer Manager works to develop and nurture a thriving free-of-charge working force for transformation. They are essential assets to support the sustainability of our movement, and are present in every step of the volunteer’s journey, from the recruitment to the taking part in a project. Managers not only recruit new volunteers to join regularly our projects and integrates them in the movement, but also train them, mediates, coordinate their participation in multiple projects, and create new ways for them to engage in our community. Being aware of all the volunteering opportunities that Serve the City can propose, our managers are also able to advise volunteers which projects to join, depending on the volunteer’s personality and skills. Our Managers enable volunteers to find solutions meeting our community’s needs; they make our volunteer movement possible. They make it possible for you to make a difference!
Our Volunteer Celebrations are events designed to help our volunteer community get together.
- Evaluating Serve the City’s Economic Impact (Report 15 June 2022). Frontier Economics. https://cdn.servethecity.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/06/stc-frontier-economics-economic-impact-assessment-2021.pdf
- International Volunteer Managers Day – Volunteering WA. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2022, from https://www.volunteeringwa.org.au/training-and-events/events/international-volunteer-managers-day
- About IVMDay – IVMDay. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2022, from htp://volunteermanagersday.org/about