by Maria Lahiffe
Volunteer management is a profession whose conduct is managed by the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA). Like all professionals, the conduct and decision-making of Administrators of Volunteers is guided by a code of ethics.
An ethical dilemma is a situation in which you need to make a choice between multiple courses of action, each of which has an ethical dimension. In cases which present potential ethical dilemmas, the code of ethics can help guide decision-making. For example, if you find out that a court-ordered volunteer is “padding” her reported hours, is it better to report the incident to the court and dismiss the volunteer, or to have the volunteer take responsibility for the misconduct and correct the error without further consequence?
Core Values for Volunteer Adminsitration
The core values for volunteer administration, as set out by CCVA, are as follows.  These are fleshed out in the 2016 CCVA statement of Professional Ethics in Volunteer Administration. 
- Volunteerism is a foundation of civil society. Administrators of volunteers will guide their organizations and their stakeholders toward active community participation.
- All individuals have inherent value, skills, and abilities
- Volunteers and organizations gain mutual benefit from working together
- Administrators of volunteers are accountable to their organization, its stakeholders, and to the profession of volunteer administration
- Any administrator of volunteers has a role to play in individual and collective efforts to build and maintain an organizational culture which is characterized by fairness and justice
- Administrators of volunteers maintain loyal and trusting relationships with all stakeholders
- Commitment to providing a safe environment based on established standards of practice.
Framework for Ethical Decision-Making 
Recognize an ethical issue.
- Could this decision or situation be damaging to someone or some group?
- Does this decision involve a choice between a good and a bad alternative? Between two good alternatives or two bad ones?
- Is this issue about more than what is legal or most efficient? If so, how?
- What are the relevant facts of this issue? What facts are not known? Evaluate if you have enough facts to make a decision. If not, then gather more facts.
- What individuals or groups have an important stake in the outcome of this decision? Are some concerns more important? Why?
- What are the options for acting? Have all the relevant individuals and groups been consulted?
Evaluate alternative actions. For each alternative, ask:
- To what extent will this action support civil society and guide my organization toward active community participation? (Citizenship value)
- To what extent will this action affirm the inherent value, skills, and abilities of all individuals? (Respect value)
- To what extent will this action account equally for the needs of the organization and its stakeholders? (Accountability value)
- To what extent is this action fair and just? (Fairness value)
- To what extent does this action contribute to loyalty and trust among all stakeholders? (Trust value)
Make a decision and test it.
- Considering all the potential approaches, which option best addresses the situation?
- Explain your justification to an impartial third party. Make sure this person is empowered to ask difficult questions.
Act and reflect on the outcome
- How can my decision be implemented with the greatest care and attention to the concerns of all stakeholders?
- How did my decision turn out and what have I learned from this specific situation?
Taking the time to think through your decisions, and make sure you can explain your justification, will help to establish you, and your volunteer program, as one which empowers all volunteers and builds public trust.
Administration of volunteers is a complex endeavour. Volunteer Ottawa offers a full suite of courses to help you develop the skills to improve your practice.
Volunteer Management 101
Click here to register Tuesday, April 16, 2019. 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Click here to register Tuesday, November 12, 2019. 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Discipline and Dismissal
Click here to register Thursday, October 24, 2019. 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Orientation and Training
Click here to register Tuesday, September 24, 2019. 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Click here to register Wednesday, November 20, 2019. 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Like what you've read? Subscribe to our RSS feed so you never miss a post! We have a general RSS Feed for all VOices blog posts, as well as a Volunteer Management RSS Feed, which will focus on topics related to volunteer management.
Related blog posts: