Volunteer Leadership Summit

Good morning everyone!  I arrived in Houston last night for what is being called the American Red Cross Volunteer Leadership Summit.  As you probably have already heard, the Red Cross is facing some tough decisions as we work to operate at a “balanced budget” by fiscal year 2010.  This means that the structure linking national headquarters to the field will be reorganized.  The Red Cross has already decided what the staff piece is going to look like – we’re here for the next couple of days to figure out what it’s going to look like for volunteers.  Creating meaningful leadership opportunities for volunteers beyond-the-unit has always been important for the Red Cross.  This enables us to recognize good performance with promotions.  It also allows us to provide our volunteers with extremely valuable leadership experience.  

I’ve gotta run to the morning sessions, but I promise I’ll be back with updates and more background.  Before I go, I have an interesting question.  If 95% of the Red Cross workforce is comprised of volunteers, should the leadership of the organization have the same breakdown?  Let me know what you think!

Ralph Chislett, Live from Houston, TX


3 Responses to “Volunteer Leadership Summit”
  1. Justin Lam says:

    I definitely think this should be the case. I understand that it’s not always possible for volunteer leaders to handle all the aspects required for the day-to-day workings of the organization – and that’s why we have staff counterparts, i.e. the Senior Vice President of the Office of the National Chair of Volunteers gives staff support to the National Chair of Volunteers. But the tradition of the Red Cross is to be volunteer-led, and I think we have a responsibility to ensure that volunteers are at the forefront of this organization because this not only cuts our bottom line but is part of our history, our identity and our engagement with communities across the world.

  2. Magi says:

    I think it should be the case as well, but it isn’t always easy. There has been ongoing information and concern over the “graying” of the Red Cross for as many years as I’ve been an active volunteer (22 years; I started with youth services!). I don’t see the problem getting any better, and I think that the Red Cross will need to be more flexible with their hours and access to things so volunteers can fit things in with work and family. It is hard for most volunteers to go to a disaster assignment for 3 weeks. If we could be more flexible in things like that, it might make it easier.

  3. Bill Schlicht says:

    I will do my part to reduce the payroll of my chapter. Effective the 1st of October I’ll slip into retirement and no longer be paid staff, BUT I’ll move to another office as the Emergency Services Manager as a volunteer. My military retirement and Social Security will keep me in beans and bike tires so I can continue to serve my community and pay by bills too. God bless the volunteer spirit.

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