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to think that volunteers are mismanaged by the organisations that use them?

(22 Posts)
Lucydogz Wed 13-Jul-16 11:00:46

I don't work, so have taken on volunteer posts, but have often given up because the management is so poor - for example, one organisation needs guides to be in buildings. There is an on-line diary, so I sign up for where there's a gap, only to turn up to find 4 or 5 guides already in place. Apparently there are 2 diaries, one on-line, the other in the building,in a note-book. Both work independently of each other.
The other I had to train for, and it's run by the council. I did the work, sent it in, and asked for more. No response. No answer to emails, or phone calls, or on the on-line forum. I'm pretty pissed off with it, as I was enjoying doing it.
Does anyone else find working as a volunteer unnecessarily frustrating (or am I just picky)? Perhaps there should be the equivalent of Tripadvisor for volunteers.

RhodaBull Wed 13-Jul-16 11:12:48

It is difficult.

I have volunteered for years since becoming a SAHM, and some places do really take the mickey for all kinds of reasons.

I worked for one organisation and the new boss wanted everyone to sign up to a rota of several days a week for a year in advance. Now, anyone could have told him that a) we weren't being paid! and b) volunteers like to be flexible. Needless to say every volunteer quit and he quickly had to rethink his grand plan.

Otoh I know the volunteer manager of a large organisation. Volunteers can be awful! Unreliable, unprofessional, set in their ways, obstreperous, bossy, and yet the manager has to pussyfoot around them.

There is, however, no excuse for rudeness to volunteers just because they are volunteers. I've experienced that once and I just got up and walked out.

VioletBam Wed 13-Jul-16 11:18:44

It sounds as though you'd do best in some sort of management position OP. Could you maybe go to work part time? Or set up an independent management company which organisations could use to make the most of their volunteers?

DrDreReturns Wed 13-Jul-16 11:20:41

My mum volunteered for the CAB, but she left because she got fed up with the poor organisation.

Foxyloxy1plus1 Wed 13-Jul-16 12:25:40

I've volunteered for lots of different things and I agree with the comments. What really annoys me about many of them, is the expectation that, because you are not in paid employment, you can drop everything at a moment's notice to be at the volunteer post.

What I've also found is that it costs me money to volunteer- travelling expenses at the very least - and that sometimes volunteers are given the most tedious jobs, as though not being in the paid workforce makes you suddenly incompetent to do anything other that the most mundane of tasks.

I've found volunteering to be a disappointing experience in many ways and if I could find paid employment, I would do. Finances are stretched and I'm not prepared to spend what little money I have, propping up organisations and people who are paid.

RedHareWithBlondeHair Wed 13-Jul-16 13:07:52

Yanbu. I've often found this to be the case when volunteering but I don't think it's exclusive to the voluntary world iyswim.

IncognitoBurrito Wed 13-Jul-16 13:12:51

Ive also found that when volunteers are managing other volunteers there tends to be a bit of over enjoyment of that role - people who haven't had power in other areas of their life/work, wanting to throw their weight around with junior volunteers. It can be a pretty toxic atmosphere and because they are volunteers they can't be ousted easily. I've left because of this in the past.

RhodaBull Wed 13-Jul-16 13:25:01

Yes, I've experienced this. Also parents volunteering in schools strutting round with exaggerated sense of own importance (swanning into staffroom, loud use of first names of teachers etc). Equivalent of someone on the WRVS trolley at the hospital thinking they're a consultant.

I think it's fair enough to give volunteers the grunt work in a place. They may be only doing a few hours here and there, or not there long term, or not have the time nor inclination to get to grips with technology or systems. I have always been happy to do odds and ends as required as long as I'm treated in a courteous manner. No need for oodles of gratitude, just a "Thanks for helping," is adequate.

Crinkle77 Wed 13-Jul-16 13:55:07

Yeah me and my sister went to volunteer for an ex greyhound racing dog charity. When we got there we were given a dog to walk each which was fine. Took them out and put them back in their pens. We were ready to take the next lot and the woman was busy seeing to other volunteers and stuff so we we were just left hanging around until she was free and then she found us another two and so on. It just felt really awkward like we were in the way a bit and always midering her so we decided not to go back. If she had given us a list or something it would have been better because we could just have got on with it but we just didn't feel welcome or useful which is a shame as it put us off going again.

ShotsFired Wed 13-Jul-16 14:06:17

A while ago I emailed a (locally) large event offering my volunteering services for the whole thing (entire weekend, organised by a business so the alternative is to pay for temp staff). I had to follow up with a second email as nobody bothered getting back to me.

I then got a response, to which I replied promptly with the requested info, and....nothing.

The event is less than a fortnight away now, so I may just forget it and make other plans for those 2 days instead, if they CBA to even reply to emails.

redexpat Wed 13-Jul-16 14:19:27

There is good and bad volunteer management. The best I've experienced was the labour party, and the local oxf am shop with a very clued in manager, also some Girl Guide leaders.

ProfYaffle Wed 13-Jul-16 14:21:06

I volunteer at the CAB and have found it to be excellent. Loads of good quality training.

redexpat Wed 13-Jul-16 14:25:07

foxyloxy you should get travel expenses reimbursed. You shouldn't have to pay to volunteer. That is really rubbish.

Dizzybintess Wed 13-Jul-16 14:25:59

I volunteer for girl guiding the rewards are immense as we watch girls grow in confidence and develop new skills. However it's a lot of work for an unpaid role and it's getting more and more computer orientated Witt lots of hoops to jump through to organise things.

Rhaegal Wed 13-Jul-16 14:27:46

I've been thinking about starting a similar thread.

I don't know if I've been unlucky.

is the expectation that, because you are not in paid employment, you can drop everything at a moment's notice to be at the volunteer post - this has been very much an annoyance.

I had one complain that her out of the blue request for 6 week commitment I can't do because of school holidays then seriously ask why can't my husband have the kids - hmm because he's working in the job that keeps a roof over our heads and us all fed - apparently not acceptable hmm.

Also seen fair few positions wanting full time hours - 9 to 5 and experience in such roles which seems more like a job to me.

I'm hoping if I keep looking I'll find someone who can accommodate term term volunteering and understand flexibility so I don't get grief when I need to attend school for kids things. If I was getting paid and couldn't attend that would be a very different kettle of fish.

moonlight1705 Wed 13-Jul-16 14:42:06

On the other hand, I have worked for an organisation who has lots of volunteers and my role worked with plenty of volunteers. Although technically volunteer management was only meant to be about 5% of my job then the work involved ended up being massive.
All the volunteers seemed to think that my work life revolved around them and their needs which in the end it did to the detriment of the rest of my role.

What it needed was a dedicated volunteer manager - but the lack of staff and training for volunteer managers meant that could not happen so I was stuck and could not keep up with all the different volunteer requests.

Coulddowithanap Wed 13-Jul-16 15:56:45

It obviously depends on who you are volunteering for!

I volunteer at two places and both are great. One place we have a rota and the second place we have a coordinator that will organise who will go to what event.

Both places I have had training courses for free and the second provides a uniform and pays travelling expenses as I can work anywhere in the county.

I could easily volunteer full time hours at the 2nd place if I want to but all they ask us to do is commit to 4 hours per month.

RhodaBull Wed 13-Jul-16 17:28:41

psssst... what is this wonderful organisation?

Lucydogz Wed 13-Jul-16 17:52:51

I do agree that volunteers must be very difficult to manage, by the way

redexpat Thu 14-Jul-16 09:20:09

Not necessarily difficult, but different to employees. You really need to tap into whay motivates them to do it, since there's no financial reward.

IceRoadDucker Thu 14-Jul-16 12:27:59

I've been on both sides of this. Agree that managing volunteers is not easy, but that's another thread.

I've had horrible experiences as a volunteer. The worst was when I was about 18/19 and volunteered at a cat rescue. The woman in charge suddenly started treated my like a complete idiot, even though I hadn't made any mistakes--or at least, none I was aware of. Nearly a decade later, it still bothers me! Nowadays I'd say something but I was too young and nervous then. I just stopped going, even though I loved it sad

lalalalyra Thu 14-Jul-16 12:58:15

I think it works both ways. There are lots of crap places who treat volunteers badly, but there are some nightmare volunteers.

I run a playscheme & out of school care. We're all volunteers. People offer to volunteer (loudly) and then don't want to pick a day, or a time, or any of the jobs from the list so what do they want to do?

I try very hard to be good to our volunteers. I make sure they are never out of pocket, I make sure they get good chances to do the things they need too (most are either wanting to go to college/uni or refreshing skills before going back to work), they get proper breaks as I don't believe you should be treated lesser as a volunteer than you would as a paid member of staff, we have a strong (but fair) discipline procedure so the children are expected to treat the volunteers with respect and are aware that they are giving up their time for free and all I ask is that if they say they will do Wednesday's they turn up on Wednesday.

I remember being used by a company who I volunteered with for childcare experience when I was 17 where I spent a whole week sticking stickers into folders. That was it.

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