Volunteer leaders deserve our thanks for all the extra work they do

Opinion Dec 07, 2017 by Gordon Cameron Dundas Star News

Years ago I had a friend who wanted to start a professional theatre company, so he brought a bunch of us together to volunteer to help him out. During an early meeting, he stood there dolling out jobs to people piling more and more onto our plates. Finally, out of frustration at the prospect of having a volunteer gig that took up more time than my actual job, I told him as politely as possible that he may need to do a little bit more of this stuff himself.

His face blanched and stood there for a moment or two looking completely stunned.

At the time, his reaction just annoyed me. After all, he was hoping to earn money from this new group while the rest of us were freely giving our time to it. It wasn’t until years later that I finally made sense of his reaction.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a serial volunteer. If a friend or a group that I’m involved with needs a hand, I’ll be there. In the past, I’ve led many volunteer organizations and spearheaded lots of projects, but slowly I’ve either stepped away from leadership roles or sidestepped the offer of new ones. It’s not that my commitment is wavering, but rather that being the one in charge means being the one who does a lot of the work.

Don’t have a volunteer to contact venues for an event? It becomes your job. Need someone to buy cookies and coffee for a get-together and no one sticks up their hand? You’re on it. A volunteer cancels last minute? Guess whose plans go out the window?

When you’re in charge, the buck stops with you. If you don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.

I’ve been there and done that. It’s what needed doing at the time, and I was glad to do my part. It’s thanks to those experiences that I can truly appreciate the efforts of those currently in volunteer leadership roles.

I’m not blaming the volunteers for this state of affairs. They all have other calls on their time or don’t have the skills to do certain jobs. (Lord knows I’ve sat on my hands for both those reasons while the group’s president’s call for help went unheeded.)

If volunteers were employees, you could just assign the tasks and expect them to be done. If you try that with volunteers, you run the risk of them just walking away (and taking their time and talents with them) or not doing it at all. That just means more work for you.

What can be frustrating is that many people don’t know or appreciate the myriad of disparate things that the organizer did to make the event a success. They’re happy with how the sausage turned out and aren’t really that interested in how it was made.

However, for those of us who have been on the other side we know all the little details that you’ve had to deal with and the last-minute problems that you had to fix. It’s thanks to you that after we’ve done our jobs we can relax and enjoy the event knowing that someone else is looking after the whole ball of wax.

So if you’re involved with a volunteer group, be sure to take the time to thank the person in charge for all the extra work they do.

They’ll appreciate it.

Gordon Cameron is Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News.

Volunteer leaders deserve our thanks for all the extra work they do

All volunteers are great, but if no one wants to do it, it falls on the organizer's shoulders, says Gordon Cameron

Opinion Dec 07, 2017 by Gordon Cameron Dundas Star News

Years ago I had a friend who wanted to start a professional theatre company, so he brought a bunch of us together to volunteer to help him out. During an early meeting, he stood there dolling out jobs to people piling more and more onto our plates. Finally, out of frustration at the prospect of having a volunteer gig that took up more time than my actual job, I told him as politely as possible that he may need to do a little bit more of this stuff himself.

His face blanched and stood there for a moment or two looking completely stunned.

At the time, his reaction just annoyed me. After all, he was hoping to earn money from this new group while the rest of us were freely giving our time to it. It wasn’t until years later that I finally made sense of his reaction.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a serial volunteer. If a friend or a group that I’m involved with needs a hand, I’ll be there. In the past, I’ve led many volunteer organizations and spearheaded lots of projects, but slowly I’ve either stepped away from leadership roles or sidestepped the offer of new ones. It’s not that my commitment is wavering, but rather that being the one in charge means being the one who does a lot of the work.

Don’t have a volunteer to contact venues for an event? It becomes your job. Need someone to buy cookies and coffee for a get-together and no one sticks up their hand? You’re on it. A volunteer cancels last minute? Guess whose plans go out the window?

When you’re in charge, the buck stops with you. If you don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.

I’ve been there and done that. It’s what needed doing at the time, and I was glad to do my part. It’s thanks to those experiences that I can truly appreciate the efforts of those currently in volunteer leadership roles.

I’m not blaming the volunteers for this state of affairs. They all have other calls on their time or don’t have the skills to do certain jobs. (Lord knows I’ve sat on my hands for both those reasons while the group’s president’s call for help went unheeded.)

If volunteers were employees, you could just assign the tasks and expect them to be done. If you try that with volunteers, you run the risk of them just walking away (and taking their time and talents with them) or not doing it at all. That just means more work for you.

What can be frustrating is that many people don’t know or appreciate the myriad of disparate things that the organizer did to make the event a success. They’re happy with how the sausage turned out and aren’t really that interested in how it was made.

However, for those of us who have been on the other side we know all the little details that you’ve had to deal with and the last-minute problems that you had to fix. It’s thanks to you that after we’ve done our jobs we can relax and enjoy the event knowing that someone else is looking after the whole ball of wax.

So if you’re involved with a volunteer group, be sure to take the time to thank the person in charge for all the extra work they do.

They’ll appreciate it.

Gordon Cameron is Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News.

Volunteer leaders deserve our thanks for all the extra work they do

All volunteers are great, but if no one wants to do it, it falls on the organizer's shoulders, says Gordon Cameron

Opinion Dec 07, 2017 by Gordon Cameron Dundas Star News

Years ago I had a friend who wanted to start a professional theatre company, so he brought a bunch of us together to volunteer to help him out. During an early meeting, he stood there dolling out jobs to people piling more and more onto our plates. Finally, out of frustration at the prospect of having a volunteer gig that took up more time than my actual job, I told him as politely as possible that he may need to do a little bit more of this stuff himself.

His face blanched and stood there for a moment or two looking completely stunned.

At the time, his reaction just annoyed me. After all, he was hoping to earn money from this new group while the rest of us were freely giving our time to it. It wasn’t until years later that I finally made sense of his reaction.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a serial volunteer. If a friend or a group that I’m involved with needs a hand, I’ll be there. In the past, I’ve led many volunteer organizations and spearheaded lots of projects, but slowly I’ve either stepped away from leadership roles or sidestepped the offer of new ones. It’s not that my commitment is wavering, but rather that being the one in charge means being the one who does a lot of the work.

Don’t have a volunteer to contact venues for an event? It becomes your job. Need someone to buy cookies and coffee for a get-together and no one sticks up their hand? You’re on it. A volunteer cancels last minute? Guess whose plans go out the window?

When you’re in charge, the buck stops with you. If you don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.

I’ve been there and done that. It’s what needed doing at the time, and I was glad to do my part. It’s thanks to those experiences that I can truly appreciate the efforts of those currently in volunteer leadership roles.

I’m not blaming the volunteers for this state of affairs. They all have other calls on their time or don’t have the skills to do certain jobs. (Lord knows I’ve sat on my hands for both those reasons while the group’s president’s call for help went unheeded.)

If volunteers were employees, you could just assign the tasks and expect them to be done. If you try that with volunteers, you run the risk of them just walking away (and taking their time and talents with them) or not doing it at all. That just means more work for you.

What can be frustrating is that many people don’t know or appreciate the myriad of disparate things that the organizer did to make the event a success. They’re happy with how the sausage turned out and aren’t really that interested in how it was made.

However, for those of us who have been on the other side we know all the little details that you’ve had to deal with and the last-minute problems that you had to fix. It’s thanks to you that after we’ve done our jobs we can relax and enjoy the event knowing that someone else is looking after the whole ball of wax.

So if you’re involved with a volunteer group, be sure to take the time to thank the person in charge for all the extra work they do.

They’ll appreciate it.

Gordon Cameron is Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News.