fifteen-minutes-twenty-hatsSomething’s afoot – and it’s a great thing that’s been a long time coming.

I’m talking about the groundswell of awareness that we volunteer engagement pros need to raise our standards. We need to advocate collectively for the value that leaderships brings to our nonprofits and our communities.

Taking our leadership seriously is something I blog about all the time, and I’m far from the only one. The 2017 National Summit on Volunteer Engagement Leadership seeks to advance the national visibility and impact of those within our profession. As the organizers state, “emergent leaders in the field have no clear path to become thought leaders to take this profession to new levels of performance and impact in the future.”

But we don’t need to wait until next July to advance this goal.  We can share our experiences now by participating in Tobi Johnson’s Volunteer Manager Progress Report Survey.

The progress report is one of the few surveys out there that asks practitioners in the field – people like you – about how you work and how your work is supported and recognized.

And unlike similar surveys, conducted over the years, Tobi has committed to releasing this survey annually to collect an ever-increasing body of knowledge about our work.


Tobi Johnson created the Volunteer Manager Progress Report Survey to move the profession forward.

“As a sector, we’re not very well-understood or well-resourced,” Tobi observes.

“If we get at the deeper questions that our profession is asking, then we will start to see decisions that are based on reality, not opinion. Plus, by repeating the survey year after year, we can start to look for trends – and see if the survey data is helping us to move the profession forward.”

For example, last year’s survey asked questions about (among other things):

  • Salaries
  • Job titles
  • The CVA credential

What Tobi and her research partner, Trina Willard of the Knowledge Advisory Group, found was that there was no significant correlation between CVA certification and higher salaries, nor between job titles and higher salaries.

“Those findings blew me out of the water. Clearly we don’t have a solid, standardized structure to our profession or a clear path to advancement,” Tobi noted.  With the Volunteer Management Progress Report, she hopes to provide volunteer managers with the information they need to justify competitive salaries that recognize their expertise and level of responsibility.

Another significant finding from last year’s survey was that, despite the challenges, job satisfaction was extremely high – nearly 80% of participants reported being somewhat or very satisfied with their role, and 67% see themselves working in the field 3 years from now.

“We discovered that, despite its challenges, this is a highly rewarding profession for people,” Tobi observes. “Volunteer managers ‘fill up their internal tank’ by working with volunteers and with causes that we love.”

The survey is not static and will evolve. This year’s release will begin to break down data by state or province within participating countries.

Also new this year – the survey will explore the relative level of support volunteer managers feel they receive and tracks how many participants work for organizations that include volunteerism in their strategic plans.

What’s also remarkable about the survey is that Tobi and Trina donate their time to this project.  They volunteer their talents to equip the rest of us with the info we need to advance the profession of volunteer engagement. What a great example of leaders walking the walk and talking the talk.


Have you taken the survey yet?  It closes November 18.

As I often tell my clients, we can’t wait around for our decision-makers to one day recognize all that we bring to the table as leaders of volunteers: we need to educate them now about our value.

One of the most powerful ways to do that is by adding your voice to the survey. The entire process takes less than 15 minutes, and everyone who takes part receives a bonus – the option to register for a sneak peek webinar on January 10 about this year’s results.

But you need to act soon. The survey closes at midnight on Friday, November 18. Take the survey now!