Every year at this particular time when organization boards are welcoming new people and committees are forming for different tasks, the subject comes up . . .”Why do people volunteer?” Generally speaking, a person volunteers to give something of him or herself without expecting something in return. To help others, to make friends, to network, to fill a void of loneliness, to build relationships or to share their expertise with others, are some of the reasons for volunteering. Volunteers come in all sizes and shapes, but the common thread is passion. They have a high energy level, an enthusiastic view on life, self-motivation, a positive attitude and a willingness to give of themselves.
Unfortunately, there are some volunteers who are very self-serving. Their reason to get involved is usually power, money, notoriety or position. They use the organization and the members of the organization for their betterment. It takes time, but quasi-volunteers usually get caught with their pants down, so to speak. Eventually they become transparent and usually are asked to resign, or just leave on their own.
Here is where it gets interesting. These people, masters at using others, are very proficient in telling people why they have left the organization. How many times have we heard politicos stepping down because they want to spend more time with their family, or they have to put more time into their business, or maybe it’s an illness that they or someone in their family has? Many of these excuses are just to cover up the real reason which no one ever hears about. These people should have thought about the amount of time required, and what was expected of the position BEFORE they accepted it. Commitment is key in an organization. The volunteers have to be committed to the organization as a whole, putting all egos aside.
Joining a committee is a good way of trying out a voluntary position. If it is not a match, the volunteer could leave without affecting the organization. Experience is the key to a good volunteer. Without experience, the novice should not attempt to talk the talk before they know what they are saying or failure is inevitable.
I am not talking about the majority of wonderful volunteers we have all over our country, but that small group (I hope it’s a small group) of people who take from others and give nothing in return. Without volunteers where would the great humanitarian organizations like the Salvation Army or the USO be?
Thank you to all the volunteers who give of themselves to help others. You are the special people this world cannot live without.