The Force is strong in this one

The Force is strong in this one
Marissa Charles, Volunteering Services Officer

Forgive the tacky reference to one of my all-time most favourite films but it occurred to me the other day there is a synergy between Luke Skywalker’s quest to become a Jedi and running a great Volunteer Programme.

Volunteer Management and the tools of best practice are only the building blocks of a volunteer programme. In order to make the programme great, it’s down to the Volunteer Manager, rather like Luke, to learn, adapt and change their own skills and thinking in order to reach the heady heights of Jedi status and greatness.

So what makes a Jedi Master of Volunteer Management? 

A Jedi Master doesn’t just follow process, they step out of the box and think creatively about the new challenges that face them around attracting and keeping volunteers and building support for involving volunteers internally.

A Jedi Master seeks advice, attends training, turns to their peers for support - they boldly go where no man has gone before…whoops sorry wrong film!  But you get the idea. They are willing to try and pilot new ways to do old things. And if they don’t work, try again.

No individual ever has all the answers but we piece it together pulling the strands of learning we get from each other. There’s no need to feel alone in your roles and that you have to solve every challenge by yourself.

Jedi Masters are willing to learn.

Without the willingness to learn, change and look at things differently, volunteering would stall in the 21st Century. 

How people volunteer is changing. The needs of volunteers have changed – they want more flexibility, they want more opportunities, they want impeccable service. And those at the top of the sector like Sir Stuart Etherington are asking us to provide this. The principles of good volunteer management only support part of these changes – the rest is up you to react to these changes in positive and creative ways.

If over 2016-17 you have continued to rumble on without reviewing your processes and practices, without asking your volunteers what you could do better, without asking staff how they feel about volunteers, then the Force is definitely not with you.

Volunteer Management is just a set of principles. Without your passion, your questioning and challenging, your learning, your willingness to adapt, you will only reach Stormtrooper status. Your Volunteer Programme will just always be a process and never great.

So make 2017-18 the time to start your training to becoming a Jedi Master. And if you are lucky, you may even land yourself a Light Saber!

Support and advice

If you'd like some some Volunteer Management support or advice please do get in touch, email me on:, or call 020 7358 7252.

Volunteer Management and Good Practice Resources

We also have some useful Volunteer Management and Good Practice resources on our website - take a look.