national volunteer week | The Life of K: national volunteer week

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

national volunteer week

this week is national volunteer week, which is great, but let me tell you my beef about volunteering.

i'll start this off by saying that i do volunteer. i was brought up canvassing for a different charity every month, with parents coaching our sports teams and sitting on boards at the local sports centre, and helping out with local politics. and now that i'm older i still volunteer, though in different capacities, but that is to be expected.

my beef with volunteering is that so often it costs you not only your time but your money AND so often they turn people away for lack of skills or knowledge. while i understand volunteering and charities are entities in themselves and need funding and the support of many many people, this just doesn't seem right. has it always been this way?

i suppose you could argue that the people who donate to causes are volunteering some of their money when they can't afford to volunteer their time. but the fact is that to volunteer often requires some money from the volunteer. you have to pay money in order to miss work and take a cut on your paycheque (unless you are fortunate enough to work for an organization who will allow you one day a year to volunteer) in order to volunteer your services.

let's go back to those employees who are allowed a full day every year for volunteering. i wonder how many of those people actually volunteer that day. i'm sure most take the day as a day off. their employer is NOT allowed to ask.

they say that people take a lot away from volunteering experiences, at least that's what the email i received today at work told me.

"Volunteers share their dedication, energy and skills, and, in return, they benefit from shared cultural and social experiences. Many volunteers gain important interpersonal, communication and employment-related skills from their volunteer experience, as well as personal reward from making a difference in the lives of fellow citizens."

in conclusion, i will continue to volunteer in ways that are tangible for me and don't cost too much money. i hope you too can find something that you can do to help someone else, but if you have to stick to holding doors open for people and picking up the random piece of litter GOOD ON YOU. every little bit helps.


  1. I agree entirely. I've served on two non-profit boards and I've been sooooo fortunate that neither functioned as a fundraising board. I have administrative gifts that I enjoy sharing with worthwhile non-proits, but I hate, repeat hate, fundraising.

    I do not sell tickets. I do not work bingos. I do not fleece my friends for donations.

    I agree -- volunteering should not cost you money, or friends. It's enough to give of your time and talents.

  2. were your boys in competitive sports growing up? because so much of the fundraising i did, and still do, is for my sports teams. the worst, in my opinion, is selling chocolate bars.

    this year we've done a comedy night and a playoff hockey pool. we have a pub night coming up, but all these things, for me at least, are easy to sell. i don't feel bad asking my friends to come out for a night and have a good time.

  3. Those are easy (and fun) fundraising ideas. We did our share of chocolate sales and cheese sales -- both of which get a bit old after, say, ten or fifteen years. Sigh.

    The worst part is when the kids had to hand in their chocolate sale money and we hadn't managed to sell any. Yes, we bought them all ourselves. Not a good plan, for so many reasons....