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Volunteers Taken Advantage Of
Old 05-07-2019, 12:53 PM   #1
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Volunteers Taken Advantage Of

I have volunteered with a few groups and it seems like they love to take advantage of people. My husband has a lead role in a huge Celtic festival that is on May 18. A month ago he said that they needed a greeter and head counter at the front gate and would break it up into 2 shifts. I said I will do 8-12 because I donít do well in the heat. He lets them know and this guy calls me to confirm and I tell him morning only and I need a easy job because of my wrist. So yesterday I received a email telling me if my job or hours wasnít exactly what I wanted the festival needs come first. Then he lets me know I am to work 8-5 as the only event coordinator. I will give people their jobs and location, logistics, making sure that the paths are clear for events and a few other things. I donít know any of these people, I am unfamiliar with the festival or the park. I was furious. Then I thought this is voluntary so I will say no. So because my husband enjoys this organization I nicely said we have a huge misunderstanding and I thought I was clear about not working in the afternoon because of my heat stroke in the past and not running around the entire park all day because I am worried about falling and rebreaking my wrist. I told him in the future do not volunteer me for anything. Who else has stories?
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Old 05-07-2019, 01:07 PM   #2
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Church. But we call it serving. They assume once willing, always useful.
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Old 05-07-2019, 03:37 PM   #3
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I am easily shamed into volunteer tasks. Cannot say "No" when asked face-to-face.

I know other people who have the ability to turn this. This is exaggerated, of course, but they do 5 minutes of work and make sure everyone knows how much they had to put aside to do this and how valuable their time is. I, OTOH, do 12 hours of work, give up some major event and the same group will say that I really didn't do much.

I guess, since I always appear to be available, that my time has no value.
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Old 05-07-2019, 03:43 PM   #4
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My volunteering has generally been more long-term (like a specific commitment of X hours per day for Y days per week) rather than single-event gigs. I've always made it clear from the outset what the limits are - no evenings, no meetings, etc. if I'm asked to exceed my limits I refuse. The organizations have always gotten the message and stopped asking for more than I've offered to give them.

The bit about the needs of the festival coming first sounds like the guy is confusing a volunteer with an employee.
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Old 05-07-2019, 03:54 PM   #5
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Just say no. You have to set your boundaries and stick with it. I would bow out. Politely but firmly. I learned the power of a firm no awhile ago and it is liberating. Setting boundaries is never going to prevent you from helping people or causes you want to help at the level you’re which you are willing and capable.

Edit: I wrote this then relooked at the OP and see that this is TT. TT - You have enough on your plate! Set some limits before you break. Seriously.
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Old 05-07-2019, 03:55 PM   #6
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Friar, I found that statement very odd also. They should have sought out a event coordinator a long time ago from someone that has experience helping at the festival. I did a monthly event at the humane society for 2 years. We all had individual jobs and it went smoothly until the volunteer in charge got bossy. Then I quit.
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Old 05-07-2019, 03:55 PM   #7
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Jerry I did send him a email saying that was not happening.
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Old 05-07-2019, 04:04 PM   #8
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The bit about the needs of the festival coming first sounds like the guy is confusing a volunteer with an employee.
That was my first reaction too and I'd have set him straight real quick.

TT, glad to see you did that, although I'll wager more politely than I would have....
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Old 05-07-2019, 04:09 PM   #9
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Well I was mad and my husband was worried that the email wasn’t very nice but I know he likes this group so I was diplomatic.
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Old 05-07-2019, 05:04 PM   #10
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Good for you.
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Old 05-07-2019, 07:25 PM   #11
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Sounds like you showed admirable restraint, TT. One of the few good things from growing up in a dysfunctional family is that you get plenty of practice learning to set and enforce boundaries. I have even learned to state my case calmly (if bluntly) and walk away when backed into a corner, when confrontation used to get me flustered and panicky. I still can't stand it, but at least I know I can handle it.
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Old 05-07-2019, 07:31 PM   #12
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"Why yes, of course, the festival needs do come first, which is why you'll want to immediately assign a much more capable person to this task, as I am unable to do the assignment justice. Good luck with that! I'm sure I'll see you around the festival."
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Old 05-07-2019, 07:44 PM   #13
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My wife volunteered to help a famous wall mural artist in Hawaii reapaint a mural on the side of a tall building. She ended up carrying a few five-gallon buckets of paint, giving him her sunscreen lotion (which he failed to return), and then he asked the volunteers to call around and find some restaurant who would provide food for free for the group. One volunteer ended up buying pizza for the whole group. She had to pay for parking at a parking garage. Unfortunately, this singular day soured her on doing volunteer work!!
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Old 05-07-2019, 07:46 PM   #14
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I was an abused volunteer at a few churches. Now I work for a church (paid) and I treat my volunteers like gold. Buy them gifts and host lunches for them. The best part of being an abused volunteer is that I value my volunteers and treat them like royalty as they deserve! I just don't get the value in abusing volunteers!
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Old 05-07-2019, 07:52 PM   #15
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The problem is, in general, we are all volunteers in these type of groups. Occasionally there are some paid professionals but often not. When no paid professionals we are all just volunteers. In those instances why should the other volunteers work instead of you? Why should you work instead of them? It all comes down to needing more volunteers to pull off events! Good luck!
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Old 05-07-2019, 08:19 PM   #16
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In situations similar , I prefer in person ,o r telephone, then an E mail to memorialize, in case the other party " forgets the conversation " .

I suspect they have been searching for an event coordinator for some time and came up dry.

Unfortunately, volunteers are often treated comparable to the pay involved.
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Old 05-07-2019, 08:24 PM   #17
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I was an abused volunteer at a few churches. Now I work for a church (paid) and I treat my volunteers like gold. Buy them gifts and host lunches for them. The best part of being an abused volunteer is that I value my volunteers and treat them like royalty as they deserve! I just don't get the value in abusing volunteers!
Cool! Good for you!
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Old 05-07-2019, 10:09 PM   #18
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I volunteered for Habitat for Humanity for a while when I first retired. They soon wanted me to be a "house captain" overseeing construction of a whole house. All I wanted to do was swing a hammer once in a while when I felt like it. That pressure and my observation of too many "single" women getting low cost houses while their lazy boyfriends sat on their azzes, and all the while I worked for free.
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Old 05-07-2019, 10:21 PM   #19
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I'm relieved that this thread is about this,, and not what I imagined it would be.

I won't (yet) volunteer for an organization as that is just too much like work for zero pay.

I will help out 1:1 some older folks as their family is too far away, but it's all informal.

Glad to see OP set clear boundaries, as volunteers are not slaves or employees, and should be respected and accommodated.
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Old 05-07-2019, 10:28 PM   #20
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Church. But we call it serving. They assume once willing, always useful.
Left handed INTJ and a FI ER I 'have' been known to accidentally slip and say not only no but h-ll no when pressured to volunteer.

heh heh heh - however hindsight has shown I have volunteered when ego stroked. Foolish me.
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