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Post by Did » Sat Aug 26, 2017 2:02 am

Anyone volunteer for a charity and have to resign later finding that working with them is maddening?

I've found:
- it difficult to work with normal people after 20 years hanging out with super smart people (I'm in rural Ireland - they can barely turn on a computer);
- difficult to deal with vested, political interests (cranky old fucks who have been in the role too long);
- that people don't respect your opinion when you aren't wearing your 'guru' hat in another context; and
- generally it was was a waste of time and infuriating.

So naturally I've decided that this little effort hasn't stuck to the wall and resigned my directorship after 2 months. (It was actually more than a usual directorship - my wife and I were perhaps helping for 20 hours a week or more).

What was your experience?

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Re: Charities

Post by GandK » Sat Aug 26, 2017 4:11 am

No, but FWIW that was my exact experience volunteering on political campaigns. :roll:

On the charities I've volunteered with, my role has been limited to physical labor. Each time it was very rewarding. Maybe go that route?

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Re: Charities

Post by saving-10-years » Sat Aug 26, 2017 7:18 am

@Did Not surprised to hear this but sorry that you and your SO put so much in and got so little out. I do volunteer and back in the 80s was a paid employee in an organisation that was largely volunteers. I admired the work that it did and managed to do some good for the organisation and the clients. Several very good colleagues (but probably every one of them had unusual quirks beyond the norm in other sectors - me counted in this group so charity staff may not be that normal). It can be difficult to make progress and the politics stifling. The plus side is that you are generally working with people who are passionate about a cause rather than cynical and simply drawing a salary.

One of my big recent retirement projects was running a national level project for a charity which was not familiar to me and using volunteers who I did not select (or know beforehand). I was at Director (Trustee) level in this organisation because of that role and as soon as I delivered the project (which took 2.5 years) I quit the board. The people who aspired to be members on it were a mix of lovely and unworldly and deeply disturbingly unprofessional. I took a break and am now back volunteering at a local level within the same organisation. I suppose this is the equivalent of the 'physical labour' volunteering that @GandK mentions. Much more comfortable on this level. I like having some control but being able to quit the job without the sky falling in. That for me is the biggest problem of operating at the higher levels, you can find it very hard to quit or say No. At least I did.

FWIW I think that the people involved in charitable work are now rather less likely to be intellectually rigorous than was the case when I worked in that sector in the 1980s. The 'ladies with hats' who had good minds and did this work to find stimulus in non-working marriages are no longer there. People are retiring later and have more options of what to do in retirement years. Some of my friends feel that there should be no need to volunteer (the state should pay, or at least the organisation should fund things properly).

This is a sector which has low barriers to entry so there will always be a number of people working in it who could not find work IRL for a variety of reasons (health, attitude, ability). That may be exacerbated by volunteering being pushed at people on long term unemployment as a route into work. The charity may not be equipped to cope with this level of churn.

I do find volunteering rewarding and expect to carry on doing it, but not at the Director/Trustee level. Maybe try the lower levels (where people from my experience are more normal - though admittedly not lawyers).

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Re: Charities

Post by classical_Liberal » Sat Aug 26, 2017 9:38 am

People/organizations do not value contribution unless they are paying you enough that, from their perspective, it it "hurts" a little; or you are brought in as/viewed as an expert to solve an existing problem.

Every time I have volunteered, I have had your experience. Better to work on a cause with your neighbors or in small groups. Corporate bureaucracy is not limited to for profit.

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Re: Charities

Post by jennypenny » Sat Aug 26, 2017 4:37 pm

I've done a lot of volunteer work from school boards to political-type groups to church activities. I have mixed feelings about it. Nowadays, I tend to stick to grunt work like cooking meals. I'll only get more involved if it's a short-term or once-a-year thing like a thanksgiving food drive.

I think the sweet spot is finding a job you're willing to do that no one else wants to do -- that generally means you'll be left alone to do it as you wish, lest you quit and stick them with doing it.

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Re: Charities

Post by Riggerjack » Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:34 pm

Well, my experience has shown that the people in charities, are usually dysfunctional in ways opposite of the ways I am. I am caught up in efficiency, and making things work. They tend to be more people/social positioning/drama focused. You know, like ($#@$&--+) people.

Life is too short. Herding cats is for cat fanciers.

Now, when I give money, I give it to the ACLU, because they do a lot of work I think needs to be done, especially because I don't agree with much of it, and it is work I can't do. But I'm cheap, and don't give a lot, which makes me feel a bit better when they get publicity for things I don't much approve of...

And I focus my labor on helping one on one. I can't say I'm more effective than a charity, but at the end of the day, I feel better. I couldn't say that when I was working in an organization.

In the end, I just don't play well with others, so it's better I play here, and they play there.

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Re: Charities

Post by enigmaT120 » Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:18 pm

See why we don't have Pacific Northwest meetup? No that's not a criticism of Riggerjack.

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Re: Charities

Post by Seppia » Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:41 pm

My work being very time consuming and having to travel all the time, DW and I have so far simply shelled out money. We do so in the most direct way possible, sponsoring a few kids in Cameroun directly with a church where my sister (who's a better person than me) went for 6 months.
I personally dislike most large organizations because the majority of what one gives goes to cover their overhead and it just seems so inefficient.

As per actually doing stuff, 15 or so years back when I was in college I also felt that the best way not to get angry was to stick to grunt work

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Re: Charities

Post by thebbqguy » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:04 pm

Its been my experience that many people like the idea of doing charity work but once they discover the work involved; become disenchanted. I think the solution to that is for the charity to adjust to the times and structure themselves to enable younger people to participate. In this way there is a constant flow of new ideas and energy.

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Re: Charities

Post by Jason » Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:42 am

Charity starts at home. No reason it can't end there as well.

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Re: Charities

Post by Farm_or » Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:42 pm

Never thought about it, but yes you are right. Just about every volunteer gig has ended negatively.

Of course, half of that reason was my attitude. I don't put up with BS for a job that I am not getting paid for.

Somehow, I lasted over six months when I volunteered at the animal shelter years ago. I had a lot of positive experiences, but the last experience was a loser vet who thought he could yell at me like a cow dog. Wrong!

I took that as a sign that they had too much help.

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Re: Charities

Post by fips » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:57 pm

So far, I have had good experiences with our local Effective Altruism group.

Here are ways to get involved:

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