As we (Care & Mercy Foundation) prepare for our big events of the year – our Golf & Gala –
I think about the large number of people it takes to pull these events together. As an all-volunteer organization, we look for help in many ways. Help comes in the form of financial donations, time and effort, or perhaps just a positive introduction into your network of friends and potential corporate sponsors.
Serving others in a volunteer effort can be among the most rewarding and blessed times of your life. Volunteering is an important and essential contribution to any charity organization. Volunteering makes a tremendous impact on the charity community. But it is also possible to overextend yourself and experience burnout.
I want to share a few points with you about volunteering and maybe when not to volunteer:
- Offer your time only if you have the time: Recognize that if you commit to an event or a task that requires a certain amount of time, you are sacrificing something else. Charity groups depend on the efforts and support of volunteers, but they do not want you to lose something valuable like spending time with children, helping with homework, or negatively impacting your family. Don’t over commit. Find the right balance.
- Have a passion for the Charity: Nothing is better than a highly motivated volunteer! However, if you do not know the charity well, do not believe in the charity’s mission, or don’t have a desire to volunteer, then don’t. If you are following a friend who is passionate about supporting a charity, realize that you may not feel the same as your friend. You may end up resenting the volunteer work and jeopardizing your friendship.
- Be careful of volunteering when it might hit too close to home: We all have life experiences that are unique. Some are great experiences, and some are tragic or a bad memory. It may not be a good idea to volunteer if you open old psychological scars that are difficult for you. Opting in or out is an individual decision, but account for any potential negative impact on yourself. A negative or “wounded” volunteer can bring a dark cloud over the group effort.
- Don’t be bullied or coerced into volunteering: It is not unusual to be elected at a meeting you did not attend, especially among close colleagues. They can even joke about it: “No rest for the weary, and no good deed goes unpunished.” Being volunteered can even happen in a meeting when you are attending! But we sometimes cross a line from “volunteering” the best person for a task to presenting undue and unwelcome pressure on a reluctant worker. Let the team know you do not want to over-commit yourself to take a particular position at this time. You especially need to do this if you are not going to be at a meeting by telling them in advance! It is awkward and momentum-killing if you later must resign an appointment or position. Worse yet is to take charge of a task that you have no time, passion, or skills to succeed.
In all situations of volunteering, you must want to undertake the work/effort, and it will mean more to you and others if it is done with a heart of service and joy. John 15:13 Greater Love has no one than this, that someone lay done his life for his friends. Consider volunteering and how it can wonderfully impact your local community.
Founder and Executive Director
Care and Mercy Foundation