Leadership MessageRob Bonesteel - President-Elect
In the beginning of the 20th century the figure of Uncle Sam covered this country on an iconic poster telling all who read it, “I Want You for the U.S. Army nearest recruiting station.” The message was simple, to the point, and a call to action. The creators of the poster wanted everyone that read it to join the U.S. Army. Nearly a hundred years has gone by since that poster was first created, yet the power of its message still resonates with people today, “I Want You.” Yet it is no longer just the U.S. Army that wants us, our time, and our money.
We have become a very busy country. Between our family responsibilities, work obligations (to include longer commutes), maintaining relationships with friends, educational pursuits, and ensuring personal health/well-being many of us find little time to squeeze in even the most modest of personal interests. Yet each of us is bombarded every day from media, people, things, and organizations demanding more from us.
Recently, questions regarding if volunteer management is a profession and the value of our current professional associations have once again been raised, as they should. Though many continue to debate the answer to the first question, a solution to the second part of the question was that volunteer engagement professionals need to get involved and take ownership. I wholeheartedly agree!
Professional associations are places where individuals can come together, share talents and knowledge, and work toward common goals. It is a place where new practitioners to the field should be able to develop skills, experience, and bases of support; but it should also be a place where seasoned members can continue to enhance skills as teachers, mentors, and leaders. These associations should be reflective of the diversity found in all its forms in our field. Yet it begins with you!
It has been interesting to see the responses related to people’s experiences with professional associations. Some have been good and some have been bad. Having served on boards for local, regional, and national associations I can say from experience that most associations are staffed by professionals who have volunteered their time because they are committed to our profession. Volunteering in any capacity to further our profession deserves our recognition and thanks. To each of you that have ever taken such a role, thank you!
Still, as our profession changes and grows there is more work to be done, which requires many hands. It is obvious our local, regional, and state associations can benefit from more individuals getting involved. If you have a passion for our profession and for your community, region, or state then I would encourage you to get engaged with that association. Without them our profession will flounder. We need strong local associations across this country where professionals in a community can come together to learn and grow. Yet, in addition to these local, regional, and state associations we need to have a national voice as well, where people can come together to represent our profession.
At AL!VE, we are growing into that role. It has taken us some time. We have made mistakes, learned from them and are striving to improve. Yet like most other associations the work is done solely by volunteers. There are exciting things being done. We have worked on developing national standards for our profession, creating ways for individuals to find others in order to facilitate knowledge sharing, providing some of our tools to other associations to help them better do their work. These are just some of the things we have accomplished in the last year. We hope to do more, to create more, to offer more to our professionals, to our field of volunteer engagement, and to organizations that benefit from engaging volunteers. But we need help. For more to be done, we need more people to join us and participate.
I Want You to own AL!VE. This association is as much yours as every other member’s. For it to meet your needs, to best represent you, and to provide you with a voice nationally, we need you to get involved. There are many committees doing important work which includes building collaborations, advocating for our profession, developing training opportunities, supporting existing members, reaching out to non-members, and managing the administration of the association. All of this and much more provides ways for people to get involved. We want to see you get the most from your membership and experience in AL!VE and that begins by getting involved.
Over the next several weeks, board members will be contacting you, the AL!VE members, to get input from you about AL!VE and to tell you more about what is currently going on. We hope that from these points of contact you will find a way to get involved with AL!VE that fits your time, your skills, and your interests. So again, just remember our profession and this association begins with you.