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Old 09-03-2015, 10:55 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by Gotadimple View Post
Here's an approach to take when volunteering:

If they say thank you they know you are there. They've told you what they want you to do and assume you are doing it.

If you weren't there, they would have to do it and they are busy with the other assignments they volunteered for.

Most volunteers don't get a lot of feedback on the work they do for an organization. For the most part the employees are grateful you are there, but they are busy as well. If you haven't messed up, then you are providing a crucial service and you should know that inherently.

Unlike paid employees, you won't get feedback unless it is of the negative kind. The paid employees save their energy for dealing with all the other happy antics every organization requires of them. You're a volunteer, you don't have to be a part of that - consider yourself lucky.

If you feel you are making a contribution to helping the organization with it's mission, then that's all you can expect as a volunteer.

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Yes yes yes. Re my bold: Like many people I found the worst part of being a paid employee to be the employee evaluation farce--even with top evaluations and accolades I still hated getting feedback unrelated to a task at hand--if it's not going well then jump in and help me solve it, but otherwise? Just let me have at it.

Why would I want more of that feedback as a volunteer?
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Old 09-04-2015, 08:23 AM   #42
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I've been volunteering for an educational organization for the past 3 yrs. It has been a totally positive experience for me. I have to say that the woman leading the organization is very competent and professional. She praises people when they deserve it and she deals with problems discreetly.

I'm sorry to see so many people have had negative experiences.
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Old 09-04-2015, 09:09 AM   #43
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I've got a lot of skills nonprofits could use but have to be very careful about what I take on. Here are some of my deal-breakers, some of which have already been mentioned.


1. A lot of meetings, especially if they're out of town. Just let me do my thing.
2. HQ bureaucracy. I was District Treasurer for an organization I won't name because I love what they do at the Club level (and I'm still a member), but the Treasurer job just about killed me. I understand the needs for checks and balances but this went way beyond that. I will never be an officer beyond the Club level again.
3. Fund-raising. Yuck. I got on my church vestry (governing board) expecting that it would mostly be monthly meetings. Then I found that during the fall pledge campaign each vestry member was assigned about 5 parishioners to call, see if they got the pledge letter and ask if they had any questions. We never directly asked for money but it was still awkward. A few of us got sob stories about why someone couldn't promise anything.
4. Dwindling volunteers on a project. Our church has a garden where we grow vegetables and donate them to the local soup kitchen. It starts off in the spring with a lot of volunteers and this time of year it dwindles. One woman who lives in the church house does a ton of work on it but sometimes on Saturday morning I'm the only one out yanking weeds and picking okra. I hate that feeling that if I don't show up, no one will be there.
5. Worrying about money. I'm on the Finance Committee for our church now that I'm off the vestry. Oh, goody. We're short on money so we get to worry about that and try and conduct additional campaigns for funds. I've been through stress about money in my personal life when I was married to a financially irresponsible man who was unemployed and maxed out his credit cards. I worked my as* off after divorcing him to make sure I never had to deal with cash flow shortages again. This just brings it all back. I also ended up increasing my pledge to just $1K shy of what it was back in 2014 when I was making a low 6-figure salary. We can afford it or I wouldn't do it, but I get tired of feeling that the burden is on me See Item 4.
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Old 09-04-2015, 10:56 AM   #44
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I'm in my 6th season volunteering as a coach for a FIRST Lego robotics team. It's frustrating - but mostly because I'm dealing with kids who are squirelly and hard to keep on task, and parents who want their kids to do this- but don't prioritize enough to make their kids available OR help out at meetings. This will be my last year. (Although I've said that for the past 3 years.)

I've also served on a non-profit parent led educational foundation board of directors. I did get some gratification from that - but it was a huge time commitment.

I'm leaning towards more mindless volunteering. Last night I took my boys and we did a 2 hour shift at FeedingAmerica, gleaning carrots, plums, tomatoes, and avocados... Not rocket science going through veggies looking for mold and/or rot... but I feel like it did something good.
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Old 09-12-2015, 06:00 PM   #45
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I've done lots of volunteer work over several decades as I never had kids and had the time. It takes a lot to make a great community, whether you define that as your town or globally.

Over the years, I learned to
>never take on a task I already was doing at work
>don't attend meetings unless the group is exceptionally great to work with
>work on projects by myself and only attend a rare meeting with just a few people
>not expect thanks
>only accept work that makes a real difference

I'm soon moving to a new city and already found a few volunteer groups to check out.

I've had to let go of local volunteer work so I've been on specific forums helping people new to the profession I left. I usually send people private messages or phone them as some forums can be argumentative and petty. I'm known in the industry at the national level so it's fun chatting with newbies who have read my books or heard of me.

I love volunteer work.
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Old 09-13-2015, 01:02 AM   #46
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Have been on a volunteer gig for over two years. The first year was good. The second very hard due to bad leadership (micro manager personaliy) . The third year had high hopes after many board changes. One new member turned out to be a narcissist and positions given to appease. It's just like Corp America it can be good or bad but since it doesn't pay it's easy to move on to something else. I will be doing just that in a couple of weeks.
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Old 09-13-2015, 09:36 AM   #47
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The board I work with:

Chairman: Thinks schmoozing is leadership, not completely honest, no financial acumen at all. His ideas make no financial sense at all! His latest push will bankrupt the club, but he'll never pull together the financing and ***. I think he's chair because it sounds good on his resume/at cocktail parties.
Director 1: Popular narcissist (the most confounding member), both helps and actively undermines the group. Subject of another thread...
Director 2: The hardest working, tireless, but hopelessly disorganized. Manages to get things together at the last minute - and wonders why events take so much effort (I help thus guy as much as can, but he's hugs own worst enemy).
Director 3: Always upbeat, volunteers for everything (along with his SO), keeps the books, but no leadership qualities - must be led. Can't differentiate between what appeals to him (sometimes out in left field) vs what would appeal to members at large.
Director 4: Former chairman. Burned out (gave up chair), his sole contribution is to tell others how things were 30-40 years ago, and shoot down new ideas, well intended but serves no purpose IMO.
Director 5: Legal/retired attorney, much like #3.
Other 2 directors: no influence whatsoever

*** other common denominators,
  • every member all proudly technically hopeless - PC, Internet, social media, etc.
  • not one of the board could do a simple cash flow analysis/business plan to save their lives.
A volunteer attorney-embezzler almost destroyed the club almost 10 years ago, members (understandably) quit in droves. Membership is about 20% of it's prime 30 years ago. I am not sure anyone could bring the club back to it's former "self."
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Old 09-13-2015, 10:19 AM   #48
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I attempted to volunteer at the state historical museum but they wanted to set the times I would work and the number of hours. I retired to get away from that crap.
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Old 09-13-2015, 05:43 PM   #49
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Laundry, vacuuming, making beds, and watching "Skyfall".

Right now I'm web surfing and enjoying some decaf coffee.
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Old 09-13-2015, 06:59 PM   #50
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Many volunteer activities are mind numbing & you can only do so much of that. I have volunteered with various places but after a while quit. The longest lasted for 3 years. A year ago a home opened to provide pregnant teens with a place to live, help them graduate HS, etc. So I decide to offer my professional services for free because it is just what they need. Nope, I am expected to choose one of the predetermined training/tasks that they designate. Are you kidding me? I never even started with them.
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Old 09-13-2015, 08:36 PM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
The board I work with:

Chairman: Thinks schmoozing is leadership, not completely honest, no financial acumen at all. His ideas make no financial sense at all! His latest push will bankrupt the club, but he'll never pull together the financing and ***. I think he's chair because it sounds good on his resume/at cocktail parties.
Director 1: Popular narcissist (the most confounding member), both helps and actively undermines the group. Subject of another thread...
Director 2: The hardest working, tireless, but hopelessly disorganized. Manages to get things together at the last minute - and wonders why events take so much effort (I help thus guy as much as can, but he's hugs own worst enemy).
Director 3: Always upbeat, volunteers for everything (along with his SO), keeps the books, but no leadership qualities - must be led. Can't differentiate between what appeals to him (sometimes out in left field) vs what would appeal to members at large.
Director 4: Former chairman. Burned out (gave up chair), his sole contribution is to tell others how things were 30-40 years ago, and shoot down new ideas, well intended but serves no purpose IMO.
Director 5: Legal/retired attorney, much like #3.
Other 2 directors: no influence whatsoever

*** other common denominators,
  • every member all proudly technically hopeless - PC, Internet, social media, etc.
  • not one of the board could do a simple cash flow analysis/business plan to save their lives.
A volunteer attorney-embezzler almost destroyed the club almost 10 years ago, members (understandably) quit in droves. Membership is about 20% of it's prime 30 years ago. I am not sure anyone could bring the club back to it's former "self."
Volunteer attorney-embezzler? That sounds like a juicy story!

Sorry you're saddled with such a sorry team.
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Old 09-13-2015, 10:44 PM   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teacher Terry View Post
Many volunteer activities are mind numbing & you can only do so much of that. I have volunteered with various places but after a while quit. The longest lasted for 3 years. A year ago a home opened to provide pregnant teens with a place to live, help them graduate HS, etc. So I decide to offer my professional services for free because it is just what they need. Nope, I am expected to choose one of the predetermined training/tasks that they designate. Are you kidding me? I never even started with them.
It is both encouraging and depressing to read this thread. Encouraging because I constantly hear all this heartwarming stories and PSA about volunteering. I was wondering if I was just being a grumpy almost old man because it is been a relatively rare experience for me. it is obvious that for most of us reality is far different and my experience are pretty typical.

Depressing because most of the things on reason volunteers quit list aren't that hard to fix.
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Old 09-14-2015, 12:42 AM   #53
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Wow! Seems like bad volunteer gigs are as common as bad paid j*bs. Perhaps not surprisingly, the reasons seem similar, at least in a general sense. Lots of nonsense & politics. The craziness of the few can overwhelm and discourage the efforts of the many.
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Old 09-15-2015, 09:07 AM   #54
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I FIREd on July 10th and immediately volunteered at two local animal shelters walking dogs for about 2-3 hours a day. It has been great exercise and the dogs love it.
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Old 09-16-2015, 01:34 PM   #55
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Enjoyed reading this thread. I tried to volunteer twice. Both times they could not get a good set of fingerprints. One for helping out at schools, another for senior citizens. Took it as a sign to stop looking.

I admire and respect those who do volunteer.
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