Risks Associated with Volunteer Management

Operational risks associated with working with volunteers may be the most common risks District Managers and Region Managers need to manage.  These risks include:

  • not enough volunteers to sustain Units or meet community demand
  • volunteers who are no longer capable and need to move roles
  • volunteers bullying Guides, parents, or other volunteers
  • bullying of volunteers by parents
  • volunteers overworking and suffering from stress or stress induced ailments
  • volunteers promoting ideologies incompatible with Guiding
  • volunteers excluding or discriminating against groups (consciously or unconsciously)
  • how complaints from parents are handled.

The risk analysis and action plan for operational risks should be updated every time a significant decision needs to be made, e.g. opening a unit, closing a unit, outlaying a large sum of money for a project or retiring a leader.  In addition, every Region and District is required to complete a health check once a year with its team including support group and committee members. Any critical issues that the Region or District needs to address as a result of the health check should be recorded in the action plan.

Two of the most delicate areas that can expose the organisation to reputational risk are dealing with volunteers who either are not following policy or who are resisting retirement.  Occasionally a Unit Leader’s deteriorating physical health means she is too frail to be in charge of children but she won’t retire and threatens to go to the media and stir up the local community to boycott Guiding.  Or a Unit Leader may think she doesn’t need to comply with approval processes for holding a camp because of her experience and when told that the camp can’t go ahead, waves the flag of reputational damage as a result of disappointing all the Guides.  Because of the sensitivity of these situations they should be handed with tact. You should always talk the situations over (in confidence) with the Region Manager or State Commissioner. Chapter 3 has guidance on creating a culture which discourages this kind of behaviour.

Last Modified: 13/07/16 at 4:22 PM