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The Competitive Edge: Tension between Volunteer Centers and Volunteer Resources Managers and How to Change It

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Most Volunteer Centers have no independent purpose apart from the volunteer community they serve. So it would seem vital for a Volunteer Center to develop strong, mutually-supportive relationships with any organization committed to engaging or deploying volunteers of any kind. Those working in the trenches every day with volunteers ought to see their Volunteer Center as an ally and advocate.

Unfortunately, we have all too often seen communities where there is more tension than harmony among these partners, particularly when it comes to Volunteer Centers and volunteer resources managers. What interferes with a strong alliance is competition. Rather than each player starting from strength and then cooperating to become even stronger, Volunteer Centers are often perceived as fighting for their niche “over” instead of “next to” the organizations they serve.

What is going on? In this Points of View, Susan J. Ellis and Rob Jackson examine some of the factors that drive a wedge between sectors of the volunteer community. They call for a “reversal of the process” and help define what a “great Volunteer Center” should look like.