Leadership and Volunteers

15th May 2015

Sally Higham

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This week I have had two volunteers, who help out at small community groups, offload their frustrations at the lack of help from others in that community and their worries about their dwindling funding.

We talked through their problems in detail and I discovered there were far more complex personality clashes going on behind the scenes. This is a fundamental problem for voluntary groups, where well meaning individuals have their own view on how that voluntary group is run, without recognising that even in voluntary groups, structure and process – as well as leadership – are absolutely critical to the success of the group. In an ideal community group the volunteers works together without rankle, jealousy or difficulty – but of course that sometimes isn’t the case!

In all organisations a leader is necessary to drive the agenda through and a voluntary group is no exception to this. It is then down to the leader to establish the right voluntary team around them – a challenge in itself – and much consideration must be made to what those voluntary roles look like – with as little pressure on them as possible. It was one of the reasons we called all our volunteers ‘helpers’ at the youth club I set up and ran – it sounded less onerous and more friendly somehow.

We have numerous helpers who help at Groop, people who give up their own time to help us progress our growth and build a sustainable organisation that truly builds communities. We never call them volunteers – they are all individuals in their own unique moulds, who help us out with their own specific skills either on a regular basis or on an ‘as and when’ basis. We appreciate these individuals for their time and help just as much as we do our own team members.

Sally