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Volunteering ... the Good and the Bad!

A friend of mine sent me a link to an article about the value of volunteers to the Canadian (and of course any country's) economy. The article was written in preparation for national Volunteer week that is coming up next week April 19-25.

Back in June 2007 I had written a blog entry about the benefits of volunteering, including some of the reasons why I volunteer on a number of boards and charities.

Lately, particularly as the economy tightens and running a business gets harder by the minute I second guess the enormous amount of time that I put in on volunteer activities. Having said that I still recognize, like the article above talks about, that there is a big need for volunteers, and if I don't do it then who will?

There are however a few pet peeves I have around the volunteer world ... which I thought I would share.

1. Those long winded meetings that don't result in action! Hey I'm a type-A business guy what can I say?
2. Schedules that are made, committed to and then changed ... its hard to keep moving schedules when I also have a business to run.
3. People (usually NOT other volunteers) who give me a hard time because they might have done something differently ... IF they were doing the volunteer role!
4. In my fundraising role I hate those people that make me feel like I am begging!
5. Those people and organizations that take my volunteerism for granted ... not something that happens often, but it happens.
6. People with opinions, who are unwilling to "jump in" and help.
7. The silent people who benefit from all the work and effort (particularly the industry association) but who don't contribute.
8. The people who can well afford to give a little, or even a lot, but who avoid their responsibility.

All of these pet peeves shrink to insignificance in comparison to the satisfaction achieved in giving back. It feels good to know you are making a difference! It is also inspiring to work with the amazing people in the volunteer sector. These bright, committed and energized people devote their lives to the non-profit sector and it is fun to work with them.

So ... next time a volunteer asks you for help, or for a donation or for ANYTHING, remember they are a volunteer! You don't need to give ... but you DO need to be gentle with them!