I’ve been regularly writing articles on volunteer engagement for over ten years now and I’ve started to wonder, has it all been said now?

Here’s some context. Since starting Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd in April 2011:

  • I’ve written over 200 articles on my blog
  • For eight years I wrote a monthly column for Third Sector magazine
  • I’ve written quarterly Points of View articles for Engage with Susan Ellis and then Erin Spink, also for eight years.
  • I’ve written articles for people’s newsletters, journals and blogs at various points during the decade
  • I’ve co-written three books – two versions of ‘The Complete Volunteer Management Handbook’ and the UK edition of ‘From The Top Down’
  • I’ve lost count of how many comments I’ve written on news articles, blog posts and the like

Looking back at all of that writing there are almost no volunteer management topics I haven’t touched on. This is unsurprising when two of the books I’ve been involved in have the word ‘complete’ in their titles!

I’ve written practical articles with tips and tricks for getting better at working with volunteers.

I’ve shared my opinions on issues and topics related to volunteering.

I’ve passed comment on government initiates, many of which have faded almost as fast as they appeared, to be replaced by something else which I also commented on.

I’ve (hopefully) challenged, rebuked, inspired, advised and informed.

So have others. Slowly but surely more people are writing about volunteer engagement, adding their perspectives and insights to our growing library of professional knowledge.

We also have a wealth of material available to us. Twenty years of articles on Engage. The numerous books, articles and hot topics from the late, great Susan J Ellis. The blogs of Jayne Cravens. And countless more if we choose to look for them.

So what’s left for me to say?

Can I spend the next decade writing with the same frequency, producing content that adds value to the profession?

Given the comparative lack of innovation in volunteer engagement practice of the last decade (or longer if you want to be really cynical), is there anything to be said that has a realistic chance of stirring some creativity and new practice?

Am I just having an existential wobble as a writer in the world of volunteer engagement, or is this really it, the end of having anything worth committing to the page and putting out into the world on a regular basis?

These aren’t just empty questions to be cast into the world and whose echo is left to resound with no reply. I’m asking them of myself, but also of you.

I want to know what you think, not as a way to stroke this writer’s wavering ego, but as a way to hopefully inspire to me to commit afresh to my role as one of many voices seeing to move our profession forward.

What issues do you think need covering that aren’t being addressed?

What insights, advice and challenge do you think we all need?

What issues are important that leaders of volunteer engagement are being silent on?

In short, what should I write and what would you want to read?

Over to you.

Find out more about Rob and Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd on the website.

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9 thoughts on “Has it all been said?

  1. Rob,

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience s. There will always be new topics as the world changes.

    Three topics for consideration are:

    Single sex volunteering for religious groups

    Hybrid volunteering for offline and online

    Fear to innovate due to empowered volunteers

    Keep up the insights and articles.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rob,

    Thank you for articles, training and inspiration in the field of volunteer engagement.

    I don’t believe it’s all been said yet. Given this past year, it has pushed volunteer engagement professionals to re-evaluate processes (on boarding), wether policies/practices are inclusionary/prohibitive and whether hybrid trainings/meetings/services or a mix of both should be offered in the future.

    Thanks for your engaging discussions and looking forward to what’s next!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Rob 👋
    I want to feel OK that we don’t have to have everything right first time. I want to explore the levels of volunteer led. What does that look like from a trustee perspective to the team leader leading a shift in a visitor attraction. Why do trustees not think of themselves as volunteers why do they think they are different. Rob I don’t think you have done it to death resurrection is still a powerful thing and revisting topics powerful. Thanks Michele

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I want to hear much more about successful volunteer engagement from non-English-speaking countries, and their challenges. I want to understand why an in-person, informal-feeling orientation for a program in this place isn’t at ALL what’s wanted in another place, where people want very formal, to-the-point info with no touchy feely stuff. I want to better understand when you do one and when you do the other. I want volunteer researchers and consultants to start talking about board members – they ARE volunteers. Why do we act like that’s the realm only of self-proclaimed board consultants? I want volunteer researchers and consultants to start focusing on volunteer engagement in fire houses, law enforcement and medical corps – why don’t they come to our workshops, and what could we learn if we went to theirs? I want to hear more about successful management of volunteers who do not look like me – ’cause when I do, I learn so, so much.

    “What issues are important that leaders of volunteer engagement are being silent on?”
    Voluntourism, colonialist views of volunteering that reinforce rich-and-“poor” power dynamics, and paying for community service.

    I want to hear not just ideas, but case studies.

    I want to be able to travel again….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jayne. I thought the same re wanting case studies! Perhaps we need a Dorothy Dix for Volunteer Leadership where we can throw out our (anonymised) HELP ME stories?


  5. First off, thank you Rob, for the wealth of knowledge and inspiration you have given our community of volunteer engagement professionals. Your willingness to share, to call out authority, to stand for excellence has inspired so many of us, even if we don’t tell you that enough. As to what next, I would love to hear about anecdotal moments, times when you were inspired by someone, or driven bats by a failed program and how you felt/dealt with those defining moments. Cheers to you!

    Liked by 2 people

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