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Volunteer Headaches..
Old 01-23-2014, 07:05 AM   #1
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Volunteer Headaches..

So, I have been trying to fill my life after retirement... One of the things
I've done is volunteer for several organizations. One of them I am now leading.
It's successful and they get a lot done, but new people have come in and
now there is just so much infighting. As the leader, a lot of this comes to me,
and I'm really doing my best. It's just that it's so more stressful than
my real jobs were. Now I feel like I need to retire from volunteering,
it's just that people are counting on me now. I can't just quit like I could a
normal job!
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Old 01-23-2014, 07:15 AM   #2
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Sure you can! Life is too short to put up with BS even if you're volunteering!
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Old 01-23-2014, 07:26 AM   #3
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I can't just quit like I could a normal job!
Really? Did you sign a contract?

Give a couple weeks notice and get out of there. The idea behind being FI is to have the means to do what you want, not be an indentured servant.
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Old 01-23-2014, 07:34 AM   #4
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Of course you can quit volunteering. It sounds like you care about this organization or it's purpose, so if you decide to quit, you may want to help them through the transition. However, you may just want to take a different role within the organization. Dealing with different personalities can be challenging, and being in charge puts that on you.

I've served on the boards of multiple non-profits. Volunteer work is very important to me, and I've done it off and on most of my life. I'll tell you right now -- there are a lot of generous souls who are drawn to volunteer work, but there are also a number of challenging personalities who crop up from time to time -- specifically drawn to volunteer work, too. If you decide to remain in charge, I'd try to understand what is motivating the folks who are creating discord. Be sure to listen to their concerns, but ultimately set a course based on your mission. If the issue is more that they are filling a personal need, rather than the organization -- see how you can find a way for them to fulfill themselves without derailing what you're trying to do (give them a purpose and a place to shine).

Good luck. The bigger the non-profit, unfortunately, the more you can get into this. It's very much like the corporate world -- except you aren't trying to cut costs by getting rid of people (hence why some bullys can sometimes crop up and be difficult to control).

Let us know how things work out. I'm pulling for you!
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Old 01-23-2014, 07:46 AM   #5
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A lot of turmoil can be caused by one or two "pot stirrers". If you think that is the case, perhaps you could ask this forum on the best way to handle them in a volunteer environment.

It is also not unusual for those that get a volunteer organization up and running to step away as it succeeds. Good luck on your decision.
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Old 01-23-2014, 09:07 AM   #6
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I had had to back off one of my volunteer activities. It's a great organization purpose-wise, but too many politics and egos to deal with for a volunteer group. I still choose to participate, but not in a leadership role. I retired after many years of putting up with that bull to keep doing it for free.
Time will tell if I continue as a particpant or find another worthy cause to support.
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Old 01-23-2014, 09:43 AM   #7
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It's successful and they get a lot done, but new people have come in and now there is just so much infighting. As the leader, a lot of this comes to me, and I'm really doing my best. It's just that it's so more stressful than my real jobs were. Now I feel like I need to retire from volunteering, it's just that people are counting on me now. I can't just quit like I could a normal job!
You could quit, but if you're the leader, it's your responsibility to deal with the infighting. Find the source of the infighting and get it corrected or you don't need those volunteers, they might run off your good volunteers. If there's more than one, you may only have to dismiss one of them for the others to get the message and start behaving. Some people just enjoy stirring up trouble, you don't need them even as volunteers. I am part of a volunteer group now, and it is amazing how irresponsible volunteers can be - they seem to think since they aren't being paid they can do whatever they want (or do nothing but complain).

If you don't want to deal with the bad apples, give notice and quit...

In the future, nip problems in the bud!

http://www.sundaymag.tv/issue3/how-to-fire-a-volunteer/
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Old 01-23-2014, 10:41 AM   #8
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I have unvolunteered for my entire retirement. I'm a roll model for the wildlife around here.

I tried to become a volunteer a few times but each time (3 tried on this) the fingerprint ID processing failed. Took it as an omen.
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Old 01-23-2014, 10:42 AM   #9
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I've coordinated volunteer organizations for most of my career. JUst dealt with this issue last fall (again!) Midpack is exactly right. If new blood is causing a lot of infighting they need to be dealt with. They are running off good, solid volunteers. You are the leader. Lead.

Volunteers can be fired.

Quote:
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You could quit, but if you're the leader, it's your responsibility to deal with the infighting. Find the source of the infighting and get it corrected or you don't need those volunteers, they might run off your good volunteers. If there's more than one, you may only have to dismiss one of them for the others to get the message and start behaving. Some people just enjoy stirring up trouble, you don't need them even as volunteers. I am part of a volunteer group now, and it is amazing how irresponsible volunteers can be - they seem to think since they aren't being paid they can do whatever they want (or do nothing but complain).

If you don't want to deal with the bad apples, give notice and quit...

In the future, nip problems in the bud!

When It's Time to Fire a Volunteer - How to Fire a Volunteer
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Old 01-23-2014, 10:49 AM   #10
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Really? Did you sign a contract?

Give a couple weeks notice and get out of there. The idea behind being FI is to have the means to do what you want, not be an indentured servant.
+1 on this advice. I'm sure there are plenty of other organizations that would welcome your expertise!
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Old 01-23-2014, 11:11 AM   #11
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<snip>

In the future, nip problems in the bud!
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Old 01-23-2014, 11:40 AM   #12
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Ever noticed how some people don't have an original thought or idea of their own, instead they target others who express passion for what they do, and this somehow fuels their desire to push back, prove wrong, trip up, etc. Absent another's energy, they slip back into the muck and wait for the next opportunity.

It would be a shame for the organization to lose your leadership, but the effort to deal with the discord likely makes your efforts less effective. Too bad.
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Old 01-23-2014, 01:15 PM   #13
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One of the things I like best about volunteering in retirement is I can behave like an owner. While I was not shy as an employee, I did find that it was important to be political and to know when/when-not to respond to some employees/issues. Now, however, I find that I do not need to compromise based upon a threat to my personal security. That does not mean I am nasty. But, it does mean, I can take on an issue directly. I act more like an owner who has an easy exit door.

For me, the problem you presented, maybe the reason you are there. Obviously, no one here knows if you are right about this issue. But you are in a position to be sure all are understood. From my perspective, this is a great opportunity for a retired person. You can charge ahead in a unique way. And, if it still doesn't work, its OK to leave knowing you tried to sort it out.
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Old 01-23-2014, 01:24 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetpack View Post
So, I have been trying to fill my life after retirement... One of the things
I've done is volunteer for several organizations. One of them I am now leading.
It's successful and they get a lot done, but new people have come in and
now there is just so much infighting. As the leader, a lot of this comes to me,
and I'm really doing my best. It's just that it's so more stressful than
my real jobs were. Now I feel like I need to retire from volunteering,
it's just that people are counting on me now. I can't just quit like I could a
normal job!
If you are volunteering for several organizations, maybe that is too much? Perhaps you could drop the leadership role and just become one of the gang? Just some thoughts.
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Old 01-23-2014, 01:41 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetpack View Post
So, I have been trying to fill my life after retirement... One of the things
I've done is volunteer for several organizations. One of them I am now leading.
It's successful and they get a lot done, but new people have come in and
now there is just so much infighting. As the leader, a lot of this comes to me,
and I'm really doing my best. It's just that it's so more stressful than
my real jobs were. Now I feel like I need to retire from volunteering,
it's just that people are counting on me now. I can't just quit like I could a
normal job!
I am also in a key (not supervisor) role for a non-profit (however, I am still working FT). I completely understand your "I cannot just quit!" mentality. I feel the same way. So many things would cease or fall apart if I did.
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Old 01-23-2014, 05:34 PM   #16
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So many things would cease or fall apart if I did.
If that is the case the Board of Directors needs to make a decision. If everything hinges on one person, the non-profit is not in the business of serving its clients, and its volunteers are being taken advantage of. If it's badly managed, it's mission is compromised.
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Old 01-23-2014, 07:57 PM   #17
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If that is the case the Board of Directors needs to make a decision. If everything hinges on one person, the non-profit is not in the business of serving its clients, and its volunteers are being taken advantage of. If it's badly managed, it's mission is compromised.
It doesn't have a board of directors in real life. It's just people doing their niches that they happen to be good at, for a greater good. I put most of the stuff upon myself because I saw a need for it. No one asked me to, so I cannot blame anyone else. The organization itself would not cease to exist, many of the events and programs I started and maintain would probably not be picked up by other people. Maybe if I found them and trained them before I disappeared! The organization would go back to being bare bones.
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Old 01-25-2014, 06:11 AM   #18
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Ginadog, sounds like a plan to me! Maybe it's time to make it known that you'll be cutting back and start looking for others to take on the individual programs or events that mean the most to you before you go.

If you're doing the projects or events by yourself anyway, then maybe you can continue one or two of them on your own or with a couple of others that you can work with without the aggravation of being part of the group? Just a thought, best of luck.
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Old 01-25-2014, 07:34 AM   #19
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jetpack, I've volunteered at several organizations since high school. I don't mind, and actually like, working in the background. At all of the places I've volunteered someone or two always come along that want to be the "boss" or in control or take the credit. If you are responsible for the volunteers, the good and bad, fix the situation. Most of these organizations have problems like this. I'm there to do a good deed, learn something and enjoy myself. Most of my volunteering is working in gardens and historic sites. Plants don't yell at you!
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Old 01-25-2014, 10:38 AM   #20
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I am also in a key (not supervisor) role for a non-profit (however, I am still working FT). I completely understand your "I cannot just quit!" mentality. I feel the same way. So many things would cease or fall apart if I did.
You may be right, especially if it's a very small organization with just a handful of people.

But throughout my career there were people at all levels of the organization who were absolutely positive they were indispensable, and even others in the organization thought so. I am sure it can happen (Steve Jobs?), but it's rarely true. You only find out what others can do when they're forced to step to the plate, and you'll be pleasantly surprised more often than not. I saw indispensable people leave (even suddenly, precluding ideal preparation), and the organization adapted without missing a beat even though it was tough for a little while. In many cases, the successor eventually proved to be more talented than the 'indispensable' former employee. The odds favor the successor.

Just my 2 cents...
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