You’ve shown up at a nonprofit, ready to volunteer.
The nonprofit has a phone-a-thon going on.
You don’t WANT to do a phone-a-thon, even though the nonprofit stated this was the opportunity.
So the nonprofit staff person tries to find something else for you to do.
You are asked to organize some file folders.
You feel annoyed, and think, “Isn’t there some other way I could be making a difference?”
The nonprofit staff person feels angry. “Isn’t it hard enough to run a phone-a-thon without also having to supervise people doing something else too?”
And then, someone says, “This is AWKWARD. I’m leaving.”
Bad feelings all around.
How can you avoid this type of situation?
When you’re going to volunteer at a nonprofit, whether it’s for one hour or one year, be clear about your expectations.
Email or call the person in charge of volunteers before the assignment. Ask for details about the assignment.
If you have any doubt about whether or not you will enjoy the assignment as stated in the volunteer job description you received, don’t do it.
The nonprofit person’s job is not to make sure you have a good time, but to carry out the mission.
Your obligation is to make sure that you honor your commitment, once you make it.
It’s not a terribly difficult equation, but it’s remarkable how many nonprofits and potential volunteers screw this up.
If a nonprofit is organized enough to offer you a series of jobs that need doing, and ask you to pick one, that should be a good sign that they care about who you are and what you are capable of. If there is one job to do the day you show up, then do it or bow out gracefully.
Want to see a volunteer job checklist that helps people WANT to volunteer at your organization?
Here is one that I made. If you’d like to see the full version, it’s $5.00.
Or you can buy The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising when it comes out, which will be $45.00 for the book, and Resource CD, which has over 80 pages of templates for you to use, and every resource I’ve posted on Scribd. Like a fundraising office in a box!