Ratting Out a Volunteer

I know that volunteers are the backbone of many organizations. I volunteer my time for many things, and some of the things I have volunteered for in the past are critical to an organization’s success.

Last fall I had to make the choice of cutting a volunteer some slack, or ratting her out. It was obvious that she was in over her head and over-committed. I told her supervisor only after five attempts to get critical training I needed had failed; I did not do this out of malice, but simply because I couldn’t do any of my other training until I received this first piece, and I was seeking an alternate means to get what I needed.

There have been times when people have been satisfied with my level of volunteer service. When I was the church webmaster, one of the interim ministers wanted me to do daily updates to the site. Since I was working at the time, this wasn’t possible. Still, knowing I was busy didn’t make her any more satisfied with my service.

I think one one hand that volunteers should be accountable for their performance. Yet on the other hand I also understand that sometimes too much is expected of volunteers.

It’s never been in place anywhere I volunteered, but it seems that job descriptions for volunteers are a good idea, particularly if the role is an ongoing one. That way people would have recourse should something be expected or demanded of them that they cannot provide; and also have people know up front what is expected.

Or maybe it would just formalize something better left informal.


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