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The Profession

Where Do We Belong on the Organizational Chart?

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When we started this Roundtable, I thought the question was a simple one: Where does Volunteer Services belong?

A reader had sent an e-mail asking, "How is volunteer management different from human resources management?" He was anticipating such a question from his organization. This reader's query mirrored discussions I have had with more than one volunteer manager whose agency was undergoing organizational change -- including a change in the placement of the manager within the organizational structure.

Further, as the profession of volunteer management continues to grow and evolve, volunteer program managers are being asked to take on new roles within their organizations, often related to financial development and other public outreach departments. What do we think about these roles, and how do they affect where Volunteer Services belongs?

Given that we all can cite examples of volunteer program managers placed variously in human resources, fundraising/development, public relations and direct client services -- not to mention reporting directly to top administrators -- this is a truly unresolved issue. As we gathered around our virtual Roundtable, I anticipated that we also would need to answer another fundamental question: What, if anything, does the placement of the volunteer manager within an organization say about its commitment to volunteers and their value to the organization?

I was not, however, prepared for the difficulty in defining -- let alone answering -- these questions.