Aug 31, 2005

Many Ways to Alienate a Volunteer...

You know, I have a bone to pick. I was involved with two groups for a while as a volunteer, and my circumstances have changed significantly enough, with school and the such, for me to have to rethink my commitments. So I mentioned that I'm in that process, and though I'm stepping away from my declared responsibilities, I'm still around and want to be supportive.

One group has actually found ways to get me more involved, and I feel more fired up and happy that I'm involved than ever. I may not have a formal role with the group (though that's even changing gradually and organically), but I feel valued, and I have a clear sense of what I can bring to the table. It's also being organized by a good friend who is very attentive to making sure that different and disparate voices are heard equally around our virtual conference table. A good experience.

The other group, where I actually had more of a personal stake involved, and my affiliation certainly helped the group to gain credibility, has pretty much written me off, and hasn't been in touch at all save for the same mass emails that everyone else is getting. That's a terrible way to keep people interested and willing to stay plugged in. I actually feel somewhat used, and as if I'm past my utility to the main driver in the organization. What a terrible way to try to build a community organization. I have seen others do such a good job at this - making you feel like part of the fold, even if you just volunteer once in a while, send a check once a year, or talk about the organization to others who may be interested. I had my suspicions, but they are confirmed now, and I'll be more careful.

It comes part and parcel to being involved with groups and organizations in the work that we do - it's not always neat, and you have to have some level of patience, understanding, and flexibility, but you also have to make sure that you're not taken advantage of, which is the feeling that I'm starting to get from this second group. It's okay, though. I can deal without causing a scene.

In the wise words of George Costanza: "Serenity now!"

2 comments:

someone else said...

serenity now, insanity later.

i hear you. that's why some things must be written off. fuck 'em.

excuse (or edit :) my language.

Rage said...

I'm there with you on that. Sheesh - these comment windows are annoying, aren't they?