Do you ever get a picture in your head as how something should be and will turn out? Well, in my head I have this vision of being able to find a worthy cause and work with them to accomplish this cause. It would be something I am interested in and the organization is one in which I work to have an ongoing relationship with. I thought with a little research I would be able to find a quality organization and go from there. Alas things have not gone as hoped for. I have been contacting organizations and their requirements have varied. Maybe I should have expected it, but you know it did surprise me a bit. Here are some common ones:
- Money, a lot of them require that you join their organization before volunteering. To me it comes across as donating your time and effort is not enough. And while I do understand they need to fund the operations, it seems a little greedy to require it. Some require that you pay for your equipment, which I can understand, but membership seems like another thing.
- Time commitments, a few places require that you agree to a set amount of years. I don’t think it’s too much to ask someone to be stable and commit to an organization for a given amount of time, but I think it may be unrealistic to ask for a set of years. In this economy people sometimes have to relocate for a job, and it may not be feasible to stay in the same area for years. A company doesn’t promise an employee any set number of years, it may be difficult to ask an individual to make that commitment for an unpaid position.
- Invasive background checks. Now I don’t mind an employer doing a thorough background check, I have nothing to hide. But when I am not that familiar with an organization I do hesitate to give out my personal information. You have to be careful and protect your identity, so giving out one’s date of birth, location of birth, social security, and the like seems like a bad idea. I don’t mind the need for them to verify my identity, but I would like to be able to provide means that won’t endanger my identity. You don’t know who has access to your information or how secure that information is.
I understand their reasoning in some ways, but in others I don’t think they are looking at volunteers as the right work force pool. Volunteers are people who are making time out of their own schedule to support their organization and further the cause. And each one should be handled on an individual level.
Of course there are problems that can occur during your time at the organization. Smaller organization may ask you to help more and more, and it’s hard to tell them no. After a while it can feel draining to balance your regular life with your charity life, and you may end up feeling like you are being taking advantage of or even worse resentful. Another issue is the politics involved. I am personally not a fan of politics, but from what I’ve heard from other friends who have had issues with nonprofits it can get ugly. A few people have told me that they were asked to leave. Not only that, but I’ve heard/seen some organizations that use the money in ways that could be considered questionable. I think it’s going to take a bit of time to find the right fit, but I will soldier on and in the end I know it will be worth it.
P.S. I almost forgot about that picture at the top of the post. Originally I was going to go with Little Miss Sunshine (remember that girl?) but then thought I think I am in more of a little miss busy mode.