The Voluntary PM

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Countless people are giving their time & energy to different causes & voluntary organizations. Though this has been going on for a while, we saw a surge in such initiatives during the Pandemic. There is a huge drive to work with various partners / communities to develop resources and assist charities, community & voluntary. Within large organizations, we saw people come together to set up immediate response squads, vaccination drives, mental health support squads etc.

It is important to understand that each such initiative has a narrow budget (mostly contributed by donors), minimum human resources and sometimes must be put in action within just a few days or even hours. There go the triple constraints!

To lead such an initiative and most importantly lead without “real authority” demands a skilful “Voluntary PM”.

Let’s answer the why?

Though these initiatives are low on resources, what is the need for Project Management?

  • Projects are about people: In such cases, there are people coming together. They need to be managed in teams effectively and engage with the management to produce results
  • Communication is key: specifically when you are working with small teams and in a highly constrained environment and in minimum time
  • Planning, monitoring & control: are at the core of all voluntary projects. Project governance, reviewing plans, managing risks and issues, and most importantly dealing with external factors.  

We asked a couple of people who have volunteered on a regular basis to understand, what is it that works:

In summary….

Even though we may not need a full fledged project management engine to be put in place, there is no denying that practical project management is required for voluntary projects.

It is key to set a vision and align the team, community, sponsors and stakeholders to that vision. Everyone needs to be onboard with the start and end point, the final deliverable and be able to define success

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