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The Top Seven Reasons Volunteers Quit
Old 09-02-2015, 10:21 AM   #1
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The Top Seven Reasons Volunteers Quit

Many of you have a lot of experience with this, but it's new to me and I am well into my first serious effort at ongoing volunteering (volunteering my time before retirement was all short term/project efforts - work hard for days/weeks, then done).

Unfortunately it hasn't been enjoyable, but I am trying to find a way to make it beneficial to myself and the organization instead of throwing in the towel (for now). If I do quit, #2 will be my primary reason. I just want some unsolicited feedback on what I'm doing, good-bad-indifferent. When I ask for feedback, I get a pat 'looks great', 'thanks', 'keep up the good work.' Frankly not looking for recognition (though once in a while might be nice).

Quote:
The excuse: "I've just got too much on my plate. I've got to cut back."

There is a problem with this reason. It just isn't the truth. It is an excuse.

Although they are anecdotal, here are the top seven reasons that people quit-according to my experience.

Number 7: No flexibility in volunteer opportunities or scheduling
Number 6: Too much wasted time in useless or unproductive meetings
Number 5: Lack of communication
Number 4: Lack of professionalism
Number 3: The feeling that the volunteer is not really making a difference
Number 2: No feedback from leadership about how the volunteer is doing

And the Number 1 reason: The volunteer leader who doesn't know how to lead
Volunteer Power: People Don't Quit Volunteering Because they are Too Busy
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Old 09-02-2015, 10:33 AM   #2
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I have been volunteering for the last three years doing VITA (income tax prep for low income and elderly) and am seriously considering not going back this year. No one certain reason and I feel sorry for the gal that runs the program as trying to schedule volunteers has to be like trying to herd cats. Guess I'm tired of the tax game (I worked for Block for five years prior to helping at VITA) and just want to do something different. I have noticed that as with anything, people who are dedicated and do a good job seem to get taken advantage of if they don't put their foot down. Volunteering is rewarding but can be just a frustrating as working a paid position. Just my two cents.
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Old 09-02-2015, 10:38 AM   #3
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I can certainly relate to the top reason.
I made a couple of unsolicited suggestions to a non-profit I'm a member of, and the local chapter contacted me to thank me. At lunch, he and a couple of other board members told me all the problems they were having and how they thought I had the skills and experience to help them out.

I agreed, and outlined a couple of areas where I could be particularly helpful. Both were instantly rejected, because the people doing those jobs "would be offended at being replaced." They were doing lousy jobs, and everyone knew it, but the board was willing to put up with that.

Instead, they mentioned another job where the incumbent had recently died, and asked if I would take that role on.

Again, I said OK, and contacted the #2 in that role to get some information. He refused to provide any answers to my questions, saying that since the #1 had died, he was now in charge and would just give me little jobs to do as he felt appropriate.

I went back to the board and related my experience, saying I had decided that now would not be the best time for me to get involved.

It's now nearly ten years later, and nothing has changed -- the chapter is still performing poorly, accomplishing very little, and the same people are still doing the same jobs.
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Old 09-02-2015, 10:40 AM   #4
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Kind of on-topic for me today. I volunteer for a local nature foundation. Mostly I do a lot of hands-on work, which is fine with me. I use the trails, so I have no problem helping maintain them.

But this year I got dragged into doing some coordination work for an annual event. I have to call people and make sure they fulfill a commitment they've made. I really don't enjoy that. Some have been quick to get me what I need, others are dragging their feet, probably for the good reason that this is one of many small things on their plate and they'll get to it, eventually, but maybe it has slipped through the cracks so I have to keep on it. I just don't like pestering people. The foundation likes continuity so they pretty much told me they wanted me to do it for 3 years, but I think this is going to be one and done.

It's probably lame of me since it's not really that much work, it's just that I went to bed last night, and woke up this morning, dreading that this was the day I was going to have to make follow up calls again. I don't need to be doing work that I really don't like doing.

None of the 7 things listed apply to my case, nor am I too busy. I think there's a reason #8, The volunteer is asked to do work that has no appeal to him or her.
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Old 09-02-2015, 10:42 AM   #5
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As someone who started martial arts as an enthusiastic beginner, and worked my way up to unpaid instructor (that's a volunteer, right?), I can say that mostly it comes down to when the bucket is emptying faster than it is being filled - folks will walk away.


Responsibility, recognition, effort for a 'good cause', demands/sacrifices in time have to be balanced against what the volunteer is experiencing for personal satisfaction, betterment, and growth.


When the bucket is empty - really really hard to want to continue and the experience can sour to a sense of obligation....not good.
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Old 09-02-2015, 10:46 AM   #6
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I have had similar issues with some of the different organizations I have worked with. Until I found volunteering with CASA, then those issues have yet to show their ugly face.

For those than can stomach it, I would like to mention CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). It's an organization that assist with kids that have been removed from the home due to abuse/neglect. Basically, you are the eyes/ears of the court for the kids. While it's true that the child will have a guardian ad litem (attorney) and a case worker, the fact of the matter is that the attorneys and the caseworkers are usually overrun with work. In my time with CASA (in Texas and Georgia), I have NEVER felt like my efforts were not needed. It's heart breaking and it's tough, but the rewards are worth it to me.

OK...recruiting rant over.

BUT...if you're interested: Home - National CASA - CASA for Children
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Old 09-02-2015, 10:58 AM   #7
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Can't you sum all those reasons into a succinct "Too much like work"?
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Old 09-02-2015, 12:35 PM   #8
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Can't you sum all those reasons into a succinct "Too much like work"?
Well said.
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Old 09-02-2015, 12:44 PM   #9
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Can't you sum all those reasons into a succinct "Too much like work"?
Can't really argue with that. I naively thought leaders would be a little more attentive to volunteers since they aren't getting paid. However the leaders are unpaid too, so they're taking the different but considerable crap that goes with leadership without pay too.

It's all starting to make more sense...
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Old 09-02-2015, 01:21 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by RunningBum View Post
Kind of on-topic for me today. I volunteer for a local nature foundation. Mostly I do a lot of hands-on work, which is fine with me. I use the trails, so I have no problem helping maintain them.

But this year I got dragged into doing some coordination work for an annual event. I have to call people and make sure they fulfill a commitment they've made. I really don't enjoy that. Some have been quick to get me what I need, others are dragging their feet, probably for the good reason that this is one of many small things on their plate and they'll get to it, eventually, but maybe it has slipped through the cracks so I have to keep on it. I just don't like pestering people. The foundation likes continuity so they pretty much told me they wanted me to do it for 3 years, but I think this is going to be one and done.

It's probably lame of me since it's not really that much work, it's just that I went to bed last night, and woke up this morning, dreading that this was the day I was going to have to make follow up calls again. I don't need to be doing work that I really don't like doing.

None of the 7 things listed apply to my case, nor am I too busy. I think there's a reason #8, The volunteer is asked to do work that has no appeal to him or her.
If you're lame, then I'm also lame. I enjoy doing trail maintenance and the like, but shuddered recently when an "opportunity" arose to help in a way that involved coordination, making phone calls, etc.
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Old 09-02-2015, 01:25 PM   #11
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I'm counting the days until my stint as secretary of one of our community's clubs is done. I had lots of ideas on now to increase membership, improve our player's skills, get us involved in more tournaments, etc.

Each and every idea was met with 'thanks, but no thanks'. "Too much work" was the most often cited reason.

So, I've disengaged other than to do my clerical responsibilities and have told the board I will not be running again.
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Old 09-02-2015, 01:39 PM   #12
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I have been volunteering with the seniors for our local community center for (5) years now. I work in the kitchen with some very fun people. If I didn't have fun I wouldn't do it anymore. When you volunteer you have to learn to say NO. I learned to say NO a long time ago when it comes to volunteering. You could have a full time job volunteering but you don't get the pay. Don't work when we go on vacation. When it isn't fun anymore you need to move on. Life is too short. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 09-02-2015, 01:50 PM   #13
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How about "not feeling appreciated" within the group?

My limited experience is that once you jump in, the main organizers sort of assume you have nothing better to do and don't mind piling on additional chores.
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Old 09-02-2015, 02:07 PM   #14
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I stopped volunteering a few years ago because I really didn't have the time (that I wanted to spend on it haha). But in two cases that involved teaching, I also felt there really should have been paid staff doing the work. Fortunately, all the places I volunteered at are doing fine without me so I guess I wasn't very important .

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And the Number 1 reason: The volunteer leader who doesn't know how to lead
Note the article is written by someone whose business is leadership development specializing in volunteerism, so not surprising he would find this to be the number one reason people stop volunteering.
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Old 09-02-2015, 02:10 PM   #15
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I stopped volunteering a few years ago because I really didn't have the time (that I wanted to spend on it haha).
I never realized you and haha had something going on...
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Old 09-02-2015, 02:14 PM   #16
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Can't really argue with that. I naively thought leaders would be a little more attentive to volunteers since they aren't getting paid. However the leaders are unpaid too, so they're taking the different but considerable crap that goes with leadership without pay too.

It's all starting to make more sense...
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.

Rita
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Old 09-02-2015, 02:16 PM   #17
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I never realized you and haha had something going on...
Oh I wish
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Old 09-02-2015, 02:34 PM   #18
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Oh I wish


Wait...what did I miss?
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Old 09-02-2015, 02:49 PM   #19
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It's unlikely I'll volunteer for anything. They'll have to make do with my paltry charitable contributions.
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Old 09-02-2015, 03:01 PM   #20
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I think I would only volunteer as a docent or to lead guided nature walks. Something I do occasionally already. Nothing organizational.
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