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Old 09-02-2014, 03:35 PM   #41
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What I would really love is a new grandchild I can watch a couple days a week! My hub would love this too. Unfortunately, none on the horizon. My sister does this for my nephew - loves it.
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:48 PM   #42
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What I would really love is a new grandchild I can watch a couple days a week! My hub would love this too. Unfortunately, none on the horizon. My sister does this for my nephew - loves it.
That's exactly where DW is today, taking care of her niece's six-month-old baby. It's about a once per month or every other month thing. DW is "Plan C" for both her niece and nephew's kids. She loves it.
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:51 PM   #43
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I have a feeling I wouldn't be cut out to be a volunteer because my attitude is along the lines of hey, I'm not being paid for this, I'm doing YOU a favor by even being here, so you'll be grateful for the help you get. Start barking orders at me, micro-managing every little thing, throwing in a little office politics and so on, and I'm gone.
+1. When I quit my job, I am done with being told what to do by someone other than DW. If I volunteer, it'd be on my term (or I will go free lance - e.g, picking up trash in local park).
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:56 PM   #44
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+1. When I quit my job, I am done with being told what to do by someone other than DW. If I volunteer, it'd be on my term (or I will go free lance - e.g, picking up trash in local park).
When I ERd, I was done with being told what to do by anyone, period.
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Old 09-02-2014, 05:18 PM   #45
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DH and I volunteered at a food booth once. We were both out in the cold all day. It was so cold I was drinking hot water to stay warm. My hands were numb from the cold and I dropped a $150 iPod into my hot water. For 16 hours of work between us, we made $12 (gross, not net profit) and got yelled at by another volunteer for using too much sterno, which I used to heat the hot water to keep from getting hypothermia. Plus we used $5 in gas to get to the event.

So on a per hour basis, assuming even a generous 50% profit margin on the food, we made 37 cents an hour each, less the cost of gas, sterno and the wrecked iPod. If we add in our expenses we netted out to -$9.31 per hour.

Conceptually volunteering seems like a good idea, but we still haven't found the right niche, though I think now we can safely eliminate food booth worker as being the right calling for either one of us.
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Old 09-02-2014, 05:50 PM   #46
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Fulfilling Volunteer Work

About 8 years before FIRE, I started scouting out possible volunteer situations. My top requirements were that the activity had to be fun and the people had to be nice. I cycled through a number of organizations with this in mind and like my present situation. The people are fabulous and most grateful. I choose the frequency and time limits from a newsletter of opportunities. Several of the opportunities have been outstanding and I would sign up again in a heartbeat. A few not so much. I learned that I like presenting to children and adults so I now select those activities or ones where I assist someone's else. I volunteer about twice a month and like the half day sessions best. I get to leave and don't take a pile of work home. Being a former educator, having nothing to take home is like paradise. I didn't like the activities where I had to drive across town, load up my car, drive to a different site, unload and tote the stuff around, set it up, do the presentation, and then do everything in reverse order. I simply don't sign up for those gigs anymore. I also decided early on I would not listen to any complaining. It has happened only a handful of times and I nip it in the bud. I stop the speaker, whip out the phone number of the volunteer coordinator, and suggest they call and speak with the authority. If they persist, I politely cut them off and remind them that I am a volunteer and do not handle complaints.

I guess my best advice would be "know thyself" and test the waters to find what is fulfilling to you.
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Old 09-02-2014, 10:18 PM   #47
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+1. When I quit my job, I am done with being told what to do by someone other than DW. If I volunteer, it'd be on my term (or I will go free lance - e.g, picking up trash in local park).
I agree with this (and similar sentiments) to a point...but I can also see it from the organizations point of view as well. I value my freedom of time very much ... which is one reason I'm not volunteering at the moment, although I would like to find something.

Years ago I was a volunteer for the local crisis hotline. There was a lot of freedom as volunteer in terms of scheduling. But, once you signed up to show up at X time during the week, they expected you to be there. The goal of the hotline was to have 24/7 coverage and that meant that people who signed up needed to actually show up. It would be chaos if people could just come and go with no planning at all.

They also required a commitment to volunteer X hours over Y period. That might seem unreasonable but this was a kind of volunteer work that required a lot of training. You didn't really want to invest many hours of training in someone who wouldn't actually show up.

As far as rules and regulations, yes, I agree that some places have way too many and I wouldn't want to volunteer for them. On the other hand, for certain types of volunteering, it is important to do background checks and sometimes rules and regulations actually do make sense.

Again, I understand why some don't want to have any restrictions on their activities while retired.
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Old 09-03-2014, 02:16 PM   #48
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I'm on a couple of volunteer boards. It's currently like "work" for me and I really dislike it. When I finally get out of these, I'll feel a lot more retired.
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Old 09-03-2014, 03:43 PM   #49
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Well, retirement brings freedom to do what I want to do, and when I want to do. That freedom is the utmost importance to me. If volunteer work cuts into that freedom, that's a big no-no for me. I will be retiring in 6 months (or a year later) and have no plans to tie myself down to a voluntary work.

When I retire, "I see my light come shining from the west unto the east. Any day now, any day now, I shall be released"

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Old 09-04-2014, 03:33 PM   #50
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I've found volunteer work to be generally satisfying but have said no to several requests to volunteer because I didn't think they would be. In the years I've been retired, here are things I've done and my comments on them:

- tutoring adult literacy/basic math. Very satisfying although the non-profit organizations which sponsor it are sometimes a little screwed up. Found I really enjoy working one-on-one with someone I can help and who wants to learn.
- being a member of and, subsequently, the chairperson of our church's parish council. Somewhat satisfying. By saying yes to this request I broke one of my cardinal rules of volunteering: don't volunteer for anything that involves meetings.
- being a lector at church. Somewhat satisfying.
- facilitating a workshop for volunteers working with children on appropriate conduct around kids, avoiding situations where one could be accused of sexual or physical abuse, looking for signs of potential abusers among other adults. Very satisfying.
- teaching an AARP/FINRA program on Outsmarting Investment Fraud. Somewhat satisfying.
- reading/recording a book to be broadcast (radio) to blind and other people who can't read. Somewhat satisfying.
- serving as the Service Officer for an American Legion Post. Ranged from somewhat satisfying to very frustrating, depending on the particular aspect of the job at the time.
- serving as the Public Affairs officer for the American Legion Post. Quite satisfying.

As someone who was in supervisory/management/leadership positions during my working career I've gravitated toward volunteer gigs where I'm actually doing something rather than overseeing others doing things. A common denominator in several activities has been teaching/writing/reading and I think this is because I was always thought I would be a good teacher.

My observation has been that some non-profits are not run very efficiently but I've tried to ignore this and just focus on my task. I've always been treated well/respectfully by organizations I've volunteered for. Several have asked me to regularly attend their staff meetings but I have invoked my "no meetings" rule and declined.
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Old 09-06-2014, 10:54 AM   #51
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I have a feeling I wouldn't be cut out to be a volunteer because my attitude is along the lines of hey, I'm not being paid for this, I'm doing YOU a favor by even being here, so you'll be grateful for the help you get. Start barking orders at me, micro-managing every little thing, throwing in a little office politics and so on, and I'm gone.
Spouse had an interesting experience with a non-profit when she went from "volunteer" to "valued headcount".

She'd been working with the program for several years and enjoyed the beneficiaries as well as the staff she worked around. The founder & CEO were fine, as were most of the execs. She didn't care for some of the HQ staff on the Mainland but she avoided them.

Then they offered her a salary. Same volunteer duties only with a paycheck. She felt guilted into accepting the money because they offered the same deal to others in her position around the nation, and she was afraid that if she said "No thanks" then the good deal would stop for everyone.

The "Office Space" experience started immediately when the HQ HR (outsourced) drones started lobbing e-mails & phone calls at her: "Fill out this W-9. Update your profile. Get this login & password, then fill out this info. You need to complete employee indoc and sign that you've read the policy handbook. Sign up for the 401(k) and sign the acknowledgments. Timecards are due every Tuesday by 9 AM."

You know that she wasn't going to do this paperwork crap. I must've spent several hours filling out forms and decrypting the 401(k) paperwork to check the "No thanks" block, which just earned her a HQ staff lecture on the benefits of saving for retirement. Golly, saving for retirement? Really?

In their opinion, if she wanted their bread then she had to start singing their song. The implied threat was that she was only getting paid after she did all of this paperwork (which was all overhead and did nothing for the program's beneficiaries). The irony was that she was anonymously donating her salary back to the organization, so they couldn't get their money back unless they paid her.

Then they offered her a raise.

During the CEO's next visit to Hawaii, my spouse explained that she was not taking more money and certainly not working more hours. Confusion reigned because the CEO thought she was unhappy with her salary yet the CEO was very impressed with her negotiating skills. Clearly she was worth their investment! In other words they were throwing ever-bigger buckets of cash at her and she kept ducking.

I don't know how long this would have gone on if donations had not dropped off. When it became clear that finances were getting tight, my spouse privately asked the CEO to stop paying her. A few months later all the people in that position were "laid off" and reverted to volunteer status.

These days the organization has created a huge database of excessively-detailed information on the program beneficiaries. The thought is that they'll be able to refer to these details whenever a major donor asks questions, and persuade them to donate more money. My spouse's opinion is that they could save a lot of effort by changing their philosophy to the one McDonald's adopted decades ago: instead of saying "3.4897 billion served", they could just say "Billions and billions served!" and only track the expenses. If she was a paid employee then she'd be spending several hours per week updating this database, and frankly she'd have to ask a bunch of stupid questions of the beneficiaries every few months or else just make up the answers.

But as a volunteer she can say "No thanks, I'm not wasting my time on data entry." So far so good. The person who owns the database is mightily annoyed that all of my spouse's fields are blank, but that seems to be the only "problem". Oddly enough, nobody else has asked for any of the data that my spouse is not providing.

The phrase "stretch goals" came up the other month. As a volunteer, she was able to just laugh it off...
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Old 09-08-2014, 08:26 AM   #52
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Years ago DW worked for a non profit as an hourly employee. Their annual telethon all employees were required to be there for the entire 24 hour event. No pay as they were 'volunteers', if you didn't volunteer you didn't have a job Tuesday morning. They were turning away hundreds of folks that wanted to volunteer so the employees could work for free. She would have understood if it was work that could only be done by employees. Her assignment, coffee girl.
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Old 09-08-2014, 10:56 AM   #53
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The phrase "stretch goals" came up the other month. As a volunteer, she was able to just laugh it off...
Thanks for bringing up a phrase I really hated when I was employed.

My only stretch goal these days is stretching to touch my toes at the gym.
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Old 09-09-2014, 10:48 PM   #54
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Other than described above (only work on your own terms) I found the best way to contribute to non-profit or volunteer is actually working in the private sector: work in a high-paying job and give away a part of your income.

Last year I earned about three times the salary most non-profit employees make. So in my example I can employ two full time people in a non-profit and still have a non-profit salary for myself. It's tax deductible too.

On top of that you easily become one of the most celebrated well-doers in the charity instead of a contributor having to demonstrate every minute of your time is well spent and having the reminder you are burning up scarce resources.

I also rather consult for a private company at 200 USD an hour and give away 70 usd of that than getting constant nagging at 130 USD an hour why I am not working for free because "we are a charity".
As expressly discussed in Dan Pallotta's 2013 TED Talk ("The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong", 4:25 - 5:35):
Businessweek did a survey, looked at the compensation packages for MBAs 10 years of business school, and the median compensation for a Stanford MBA, with bonus, at the age of 38, was $400,000. Meanwhile, for the same year, the average salary for the CEO of a $5 million-plus medical charity in the U.S. was $232,000, and for a hunger charity, $84,000. Now, there's no way you're going to get a lot of people with $400,000 talent to make a $316,000 sacrifice every year to become the CEO of a hunger charity.
Some people say, "Well, that's just because those MBA types are greedy." Not necessarily; they might be smart. It's cheaper for that person to donate $100,000 every year to the hunger charity, save $50,000 on their taxes, so still be roughly $270,000 a year ahead of the game, now be called a "philanthropist" because they donated $100,000 to charity, probably sit on the board of the hunger charity, indeed, probably supervise the poor SOB who decided to become the CEO of the hunger charity, and have a lifetime of this kind of power and influence and popular praise still ahead of them."
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Old 09-09-2014, 11:22 PM   #55
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I thought I'd do more frontline volunteering in retirement, but I'm told the tasks are likely to be mundane and unchallenging.
Very often the case, but not necessarily. Hunt around and you should eventually be able to find a role that challenges or at least rewards you, without being overly demanding.

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About 8 years before FIRE, I started scouting out possible volunteer situations. My top requirements were that the activity had to be fun and the people had to be nice. I cycled through a number of organizations with this in mind and like my present situation. The people are fabulous and most grateful. I choose the frequency and time limits.
Excellent, mirrors my own experience.

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Providing the homeless, working poor and refugees with a meal today was a mundane and boring activity. It was also rewarding, uplifting and humbling. I received more than I donated.
Ditto!

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Makes me wonder how some of these organizations that seek volunteers ever get anyone to work for them. There is an organization where I live that provides transportation services for disabled veterans to a major medical facility that's about 70 miles away and were seeking volunteers to do the driving. Obviously a good cause but when I contacted them to offer my services I found their attitude a complete turnoff. The entire discussion on their part was only about the rules, regulations, and time commitments that I must follow in order to be able to volunteer and not to waste their time if I wasn't able to fully commit to all of them. It was as if they were doing me a favor by allowing me to volunteer for them. I'm certainly not looking for someone to roll out the red carpet to get me to volunteer but showing a little gratitude wouldn't hurt in the recruitment process.
I had similar experiences applying for frontline volunteer positions at two different non-profits. One of them had a paramilitary structure, and I suspect the big attraction was the opportunity to hold pseudo ranks and wear uniforms. The other organization employed lots of "professionals", and volunteer experience appeared to be a gateway to paid work.

Neither deal appealed to me, so I sought (and found) greener pastures at more welcoming non-profits where scheduling is flexible and the emphasis is on actually helping vulnerable people. Co-incidentally, the staff and clients are always good at expressing gratitude, which is a nice bonus.

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Start barking orders at me, micro-managing every little thing, throwing in a little office politics and so on, and I'm gone.
Quite right too. There is simply no place for that sort of thing when dealing with volunteers (it's also generally counter-productive with paid employees!).
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