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Why Don't Job Banks Include Volunteer Management as a Profession? (Applying My September Hot Topic to Real-Life Situations)

on Thu, 09/06/2012 - 20:07

As I was composing this month’s Hot Topic about asking “Why?” to put things into context and enable forward progress, I received an e-mail from Hillary Roberts of Blankie Depot (she’s one of the most consistent and savvy responders to my Hot Topic).  She wanted to tell me that Bridgestar’s nonprofit job bank has “no reference to volunteer resource management or the word volunteer anywhere within the parameters of a job search.  Even ‘volunteer coordinator’ is missing.”  She suggested that this might be a great idea for an online discussion:  “How do volunteer resource managers job hunt and why haven't job banks included our profession?”

I agree that it would be very interesting to examine how our colleagues hunt for jobs in our field, but who is responsible for the omission in the job banks?  Bridgestar and seem to have nothing under the key words “volunteer management,” though does.  Why no consistency? Is the real problem that employers do not post job openings with a title such as “volunteer resources manager” or “volunteer program coordinator”?  Perhaps job banks have the same problem that we have ourselves in identifying how to classify where volunteer resources “fits”:  In general management? Membership development? Human resources?  

So this is a good situation in which to practice my Hot Topic advice. Sometimes, on behalf of our profession, we need to go public in asking “why?” Every one of us can send a message to the source of any omission such as this – or inappropriate reference to volunteers in a news story or whatever – and simply challenge the rationale. Get the source to explain why the situation exists or the comment was said.  Or at least put them on notice that someone is paying attention and can identify thoughtless or uninformed actions.

In the meantime, it would be helpful to the rest of our field if each of you could share how you found your current position as a leader of volunteers or volunteer engagement.  Was it thrust upon your already busy workload?  Did you discover it in an online job listing?  If so, which one? 

P.S.  Energize has been posting volunteer management job opportunities to our Web site for 15 years (at no charge to employers).  We are happy to spread the word about openings and internships specifically related to leading volunteers!


Denise Daniels's picture

So timely for me - just got laid off from my Director of Volunteer position at at United Way and have been coming across this issue. With regard to how I was hired to that position - I actually volunteered my way in to the job. After working in Community Affairs for a major cable company I was re-orged out and already had a relationshil with UW. To keep my skills and network up, I volunteered, eventually they hired me. Unfortunately, the position doesn't generate enough revenue and due to a major drop in donations last year, I again find myself out of a job. I love what I do and hope to continue for another non-profit somewhere in Central NJ. Any more hints on where to look - trying to sift through results I get online is a daunting task! I think I will have to rely on networking and getting out there again to obtain a new position. DD
Oliver's picture

Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this write-up plus the rest of the site is very good.
Whitney's picture

I found my volunteer management job on the organization's website. Additionally, if your state has a nonprofit association, they often have job listings that include volunteer management - I don't even bother with the big job sites anymore.
Hillary Roberts's picture

Thank you for posting my question, Susan. I did write to the Bridgestar office for answers and I am still hoping to hear back. As for how I came to find my current position, I was recruited by a Director of Volunteers from our local Volunteer Center. Networking through professional contacts has been the only way I've ever been successfully placed in a VRM position. Traditional employment agencies, online job banks and even npo conferences have not proven to be schooled enough in the profession to recruit for it.
Lindsay Coleman's picture

Hi Susan, I wanted to take the opportunity to respond to your post. Hillary's request was actually the first we had received to add Volunteer Management, and it was a good suggestion. As a result, we have just added the option as a functional responsibility on our job board. Users can now search for jobs in Volunteer Management, create a job alert to email them when positions are posted, and organizations can now post specific opportunities in that field. In support of your efforts to get the word out about this important role, I would like to offer anyone posting a volunteer management job on the job board by the end of the year a free posting. Simply enter the discount code VOLUNTEER at check out. Thanks again to Hillary for her suggestion and for contacting me. I would also like to encourage feedback from anyone on how we can better serve the sector. We are planning an update to our job board’s functionality in 2013 and if there are additional suggestions on how we can make it more useful, I would love to hear from you. Please check out our nonprofit job board at: and send any suggestions or ideas to: Thank you, Lindsay Coleman Associate Director The Bridgespan Group/Bridgestar
Laura G.'s picture

I too found my job by volunteering. By getting to know those in administration, someone looked at my skill set and saw a good fit! This is a brand new career path for me and has been extremely rewarding thus far.

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