Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I have had the pleasure to be a volunteer for several years and for a number of different charities and non-profit organizations. Some of my volunteering has been donating some of my craft items to the organization so that they can either raffle the item off, give them to people who need them or in some cases even sell the items to help with programs for the children.

One thing I have seen is that different organizations treat their volunteers so differently. In some cases you hear nothing from the organization when you give them things that they have asked for and other ones either give you a call or an email or note to acknowledge what you have done.

I have also volunteered my time to some organizations, and again have been some extreme differences between how one volunteer is treated and another volunteer. If an organization wants to keep their volunteers, they need to ensure that they are treating all of their volunteers with respect and ensure that their effort is acknowledged. In one case that I can think of, three volunteers organized the same type of event and two heard the words thanks and the other one received a public thank you as well as a floral arrangement. No, the volunteers don't know that they were treated differently, but the organization sees how some leaders favour one volunteer over another volunteer.

The one situation that really got to me was the latest call that I got from an organization that I helped a couple of years ago. For this organization I donated a number of knit hats for children, and then I spent 5 Friday afternoons for one hour teaching kids from grade 1-5 to knit. It was a great time as I got to help kids learn something new for them. A couple of weeks ago, I received a call asking me if I would teach kids to knit during their summer camp. Each group goes for three weeks, so I would have 3 – 1-hour sessions with each group, this sounded not too bad. Now the only thing that really got me was this was the entire summer, and the organization would set the day and time that I would be teaching the knitting. I wouldn't have any input on the day or time, and considering this was for the entire summer, that doesn't work for me. When I said no, they just didn't seem to understand that committing one hour a week during the day is difficult for someone that works.

So, what I am really getting at is if you want someone to volunteer for your organization, you have to be willing to accept their schedule as part of it. In my case, if I had been given some input on the number of times, I taught the knitting and the day that worked best for me, I might have considered it.

Volunteers are people that are willing to give an organization some of their personal time for free, so remember you need to respect the volunteer and consider their schedule.

1 comment:

  1. Volunteers are not slaves, and the those working with volunteers need to remember that fact or they'll run out of volunteers really quickly.