The Ups and Downs of Volunteering…..

I’ve previously posted about the extra volunteer work I have taken on and how I really should have said “no” to the last board request. I did not, however, and therefore have pretty much only my lack of willingness to say “no” to account for this. The up side to volunteering is when you see the good of it. I was at a luncheon today where someone thanked me for helping give their organization a bit of a boost when it was at a kind of critical time for them. Since it is a group that helps mostly high school and young adults, how can that not make you feel good?

On the other hand, I have also been dealing with the proverbial “tempest in a teapot” in some other situations the past two weeks because quite frankly of egos more concerned with their own agendas than the goals of the organization. This aspect of groups is just as likely to occur among volunteers as in business. When in business, you can sort of understand the drive that might very well result in promotion or career advancement in whatever capacity. In a volunteer organization, it is essentially self-aggrandizement, which can be tolerable if the end results are something good for the organization. On the other hand, if the behavior includes persistent denigration of others, that makes it tough to cope with. How does one handle it? Cautiously if the intent is to maintain the group. In some cases, the departure of selected individuals is the only solution. The individual/individuals who depart though might not be the ones “creating the waves”. It really is a shame, but so it can go. Ah well, these are the times, an adult beverage or soothing cup of tea comes in handy.

2 thoughts on “The Ups and Downs of Volunteering…..

  1. Volunteering is the same the world over, apparently! I also do volunteer work (and my paid job involves working with both staff and volunteers), so I recognise this very well: we have a saying in Dutch, that someone has ‘long toes’ (lange tenen), that is, they are easy to step on, (easily and needlessly insulted or offended). I try to remember that for many volunteers what they are doing is intensely personal, and they can be ‘invested’ in the situation more than is healthy, and that informs their reactions. On the other hand, you get the ego-trippers as well, and they can be the most destructive as they usually sow discord without really adding anything positive in the way of a real contribution. I think keeping the end goal in sight is a good way of dealing with these sorts if things, but it can be fraustrating!

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