For many of us the idea of volunteering seems like a really cool idea. We want to make the effort, but sometimes other things get in the way. So we make allowances and we say to ourselves “I’ll do it some other time.” But when push comes to shove does that time come around again? If it does, do we really know what we are getting ourselves into, when we do give out free time?
The not- so subtle clues.
About six months ago I started volunteering some of the my free time at a local library. I have always enjoyed being at the library and it felt like the right place to be. At least in the beginning it did. They brought me on board, almost immediately and I began my work. I felt so overjoyed to be helping them out. I also got some free books out of the deal. So not really a bad day at the office. I took it upon myself to streamline some of the sections that I had been given. They never told me otherwise. I came in the next day to find out that what I had done, was done wrong. They, of course, were all too happy to point it out.
I decided to tough it out to see if things got better, but they didn’t. I soon found that the volunteers that I was working with were there for another reason. These guys happened to have an agenda. It began very subtle and then moved to very extreme. Which brings me to my point. How many times when we go out to volunteer somewhere, do we really know what we are getting into? How many times do certain business operations really operate as a cover for something else? If we choose to volunteer there, we either play by the rules or they will seek to replace us?
Are you really volunteering your time?
I hate to say it, but gossip is everywhere. You’ll be hard pressed to find someplace that doesn’t hold a meeting ground for gossip. But there are some that do it more than others. If you find yourself volunteering for a place that cares more about the gossip, than they do about the work, then you need to find a more positive place to go. Based on my experiences, it like an adult playground. You feel as if you are volunteering, but you really are there just for show.
It’s their way or the highway.
Your actions and words get back to the head guys. There once was a time when they enjoyed your company and they went out of their way to thank you for your time. After all, volunteering is not mandatory. But these days, even when you volunteer your time, it’s as though it’s expected of you. If you don’t do things exactly as they wish it to be done, they will find a way to rip you to shreds. Some places even use their volunteer programs as a front for something else. The closer you get to finding out the truth, the more they want you gone.
The next time you volunteer your time somewhere find out exactly what you are signing up for first. Pay attention to how they conduct their business and if you are treated as a member of the group. If you see signs of any of this being a no-go, than find some place where you will be appreciated. They are supposed to be helping you to feel good about what you have done, not bad. Volunteering is supposed to be a positive experience, not a negative one.