Monday, March 29, 2010

Why Not to Volunteer

I wrote recently about volunteering and it being a real commitment, no less than the ones you make for compensation. I think it’s only fair you approach it that way, and if you can’t, then don’t do it.

But do it. Volunteer organizations need help.

I declined a volunteer invitation recently and someone ask why. I gave them my reasons, and they countered with “you can always find a reason not to volunteer.” That’s true, and I do encourage people to volunteer when I speak. However you can’t always volunteer, and I’ll give you a time and place where I think you might not want to volunteer.

You can always find time to do something that’s important to you. I met a guy years ago that was training for a triathlon and fairly competitive. Nowhere near professional levels, but a high level amateur. I mentioned that I had done a few, and would like to do more, but I didn’t have the time. He told me how he got up early and went to train before work, or went right after work and came home later, freeing up time. I could do those things, but as with anything else, there’s no free lunch.

If I make time in my day, usually what suffers is time with my family. That’s not always a bad thing, especially with volunteernig where my kids can see that I’m helping someone else, but they pay a price in less time with Dad. Or our time is moved around, or maybe I’m more stressed. Maybe not, but maybe.

I think charity, giving back, helping others outside your family or other responsibilities is a time and place thing. You should do it at some times, and where you can, but you have to pick those times. You should pick some time, but not every time.

I’ve balanced my efforts with Scouts over the years with my kids. Some years I do more than others, some I do nothing, sometimes I do either Boy or Girl Scouts and not both.

Volunteer when you can, note it as part of your brand, but if you don’t want to take the time this week/month/year, don’t.

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