... to another, and... this may link to something that ceasesmith said...


In another thread, ceasesmith emphatically declined to participate in a mentoring program for at-risk youth. The article generally mentions difficulty with recruiting and retaining mentors. ceasesmith cited low pay for long hours as one obstacle to recruitment.

So. If you had a gazillion dollars, would you endow a program with sufficient funds to satisfy paid volunteers?

@ceasesmith: I loved what you said on the other thread about the number of hours and the pay for the volunteer. For some people, it is prohibitive. You are the brave one who said so here. smiling smiley

A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. ― Leopold Stokowski

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/20/2019 03:44PM by Shop-et-al.

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As a volunteer at a homeless shelter who does soup kitchen duty a couple lunches a week and a church where I do office work a few hours a week, I probably would not support paying volunteers. This would actually make the volunteers employees rather than volunteers. If I were going to ensure payment, I would interview and hire and ensure reasonable payment. When you solicit volunteers, you take what you get and those who volunteer are actually not looking for volunteer work. If pay were involved for the volunteer work I do, I would probably not do it, because I think I would be taking a job from someone who needs the money and the work. If a service organization were to pay for the work, they would select the best candidate and attempt to get quality work done as efficiently as possible. What I WOULD do is ensure that for volunteers the time and service requirements would be lower and more geared to their schedules. This would not be that hard to do if a service organization altered its thinking and business plan ("we've ALWAYS done it that way.smiling smiley I researched volunteering quite a bit because I think, for me personally, it is a responsibility to try to give back to the community and support those who have less than I do. {Disclaimer: I am speaking for ME ONLY, I am NOT saying everyone should feel this responsibility or should do volunteer work.} I learned, like cease, that the volunteer organizations have time and service demands that exceeded my ability to volunteer, not so much because of time available but because they demanded specific times and specific days. I wanted to do Meals on Wheels, but they required two days a week commitment and I had to specify the days and stick to that schedule every week. I travel a lot for my day job and can't guarantee that every week I will be in town on Tuesday and Wednesday. I am out of town a couple of days every week, different days each week. I was unable to take several volunteer "jobs" because I couldn't guarantee I would do the work Monday 4-6 or Friday 8-12. The soup kitchen got me because they said "No problem, we serve food every day, just come on over whatever day fits your schedule, we're glad for whatever you can do." So I go 2 days but a different 2 every week. The church lets me work any hours and mostly from home.

So, I guess if I had a gazillion dollars, I would donate to create jobs for those who need jobs and pay but it wouldn't necessarily be related to jobs that are now volunteer jobs.
@roflwofl wrote:

. . . I learned, like cease, that the volunteer organizations have time and service demands that exceeded my ability to volunteer, not so much because of time available but because they demanded specific times and specific days.
This is a problem for both the volunteers and for the organizations. Most not-for-profits that serve the public--such as museums, food access, healthcare access--can better spend their money on their services by using volunteers. Retention of volunteers is generally by team building and making each volunteer feel needed. 'Your day' is Tuesday and it is the time when you will see Dan, Barbara, Carole and Sam. Every couple of weeks you get together after 'shift' with some or all of your team members for a purely social gathering for lunch or dinner or to go shopping or whatever. If you don't appear, you are letting down your fellow team members. Loyalty to the team and the institution is built.

The vast bulk of volunteers are retired folks and 'shift' times help solidify their weekly schedule as well as add to their social interactions. Shifts also allow those still working to arrange with their employer their volunteer time such that it does not disrupt work flow. When my uncle was delivering for Meals on Wheels they scrambled if someone was going to be absent to get someone who ran the route another day to cover the route because older folks might not let an unknown driver in.

I understand your need to volunteer on a flexible schedule, and it sounds as though you have found a way to make that work. I understand that a soup kitchen can use a whole lot of volunteers and also function with very few volunteers--depending on what the day brings. Volunteers get discouraged about showing up when every time they go the place is seriously overstaffed or understaffed because they just don't feel like a meaningful part of the process. A darn good coordinator can certainly help with the overstaffing by encouraging volunteers to interact with the clients directly and with understaffing by drafting reliable clients to run the serving line and wipe down tables, but a museum or free clinic does not have the same flexibility.
I have not volunteered recently. But many lifetimes ago, I paid for the gas I used to get to program meetings and client appointments. Should I have been reimbursed for that? I dunno. It was long ago and far away. I am still alive and kicking. I think it is tragic when well-qualified persons are prohibited from participating and sharing their skills by lack of funds for necessary transportation costs.

A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. ― Leopold Stokowski
I have been in Rotary for almost 20 years. My club does multiple service projects in the local community every year. We also contribute to the Rotary Foundation to support service projects around the world. It is one of the best feelings ever to give your time to help other people. It is an option for anyone, including people who are unable to provide monetary assistance like me. There are so many worthwhile non profits in our country, all of which do extraordinary good. If one does not fit your needs, keep looking. Volunteerism is free and gives so much in return.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away
I see so many different sides of this dice. I've been involved in just about every aspect of volunteerism from a one hour once a year volunteer to organizing a whole team of volunteers through several projects over several years. There is something for everyone and I hope nothing said here will keep someone from volunteering.

As to the original question, my answer is YES! It's hard to keep people coming back and sometimes even coming once. You might get a volunteer who shows up for one hour once a year..it was something I signed up for when I was 9 and even though I wasn't into it anymore, I made a commitment and no way would Mom and Dad let me get out of. I'm glad they didn't. You might get a volunteer that shows up one day for an hour and comes back every day for the rest of their lives.

I've been working with a thrift shop for almost 10 years. I started as a volunteer one day a week. I would come in when I could and they acted like it was the best thing ever when I got there and thanked me immensely when I left for the day. Then I got a full time job and I couldn't work with the hours. Five years later, I lost that job and the thrift shop called me to ask if I could work a few days a week, which turned into a full time job (albeit with terrible pay, I made it work and did some mystery shopping) Got another great full time job where I made a boatload of money but kept working at the thrift store one day a week because honestly I never felt more valued at a job than I did there. I was making more in one hour at my other job than I was making all day at the thrift shop. I didn't care. The thrift shop was there for me..and now, full circle..I lost my "great job" this February and the thrift shop asked if I wanted more hours, more days, etc and here I am..working 3 days a week making hardly any money and honestly I'm ok with it because they have always been there when I needed them and I have other stuff I can do to make life work. If they didn't have money to pay someone (me) I honestly don't know where I'd be. I don't know where the few others that are paid to be there would be. I also don't know what we'd do without the dozen or so people that come in to volunteer..one hour a week or seven hours/six days a week. They make it ok to have a skeleton crew and on some days have all kinds of help and on some days have no help. We're grateful for all the help.

If you want to volunteer and the thing you want to do doesn't work out, ask to do something different, ask to do something different at another place. Find something that needs you as much as you need it. There is a place for everyone.

(I realize I got a little extra there, but volunteerism and community services are something very important to me and I know it is to many others on here)

Shopping the South Jersey Shore
Our local Salvation Army uses both -- they have volunteers, but they also pay their chefs and administrators. Most of these are people who formerly used their services. Our local chef (and he will let you know that he's a chef, not a cook ;-)) was formerly homeless, but they saw in him a willingness to work hard and improve himself. They helped him get a grant (loan??) to go to school and then they hired him. Great food. We'll sometimes stop in there for a meal. It's "pay as you want" with most folks paying nothing. We pay market rate.

“I am convinced that knowledge is power - to overcome the past, to change our own situations, to fight new obstacles, to make better decisions.” ~Ben Carson
Interesting article you linked, Shopet. Glad to see that they're not sugar-coating it, and recognize the problems, especially this one: "Harmful effects for some youth because mentors are unreliable, end relationships prematurely, or model deviant behavior or authority-undermining attitudes." I don't think enhanced screening is going to affect this, especially since orgs like Big Brothers are already screening-heavy. The answer is for there to be a father in the home, to stop glorifying single motherhood (and, yes, I realize that many single mothers do a great job and are not in that position by choice.) "Big Brothers Big Sisters’ community-based mentoring program matches youths age 6-18, predominantly from low-income, single-parent households, with adult volunteer mentors who are typically young (20-34) and well-educated (the majority are college graduates)." I'm guessing that most of these mentors do not have children of their own. It makes a big difference. Kudos to those of you over 30 who are volunteering with youth. We don't do the long-term, intensive commitment type of volunteering. My time is valuable and I think the organization better benefits in my case from financial contributions.

ETA: typo

“I am convinced that knowledge is power - to overcome the past, to change our own situations, to fight new obstacles, to make better decisions.” ~Ben Carson

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/05/2019 10:09PM by iShop123.
Let me add that I do volunteer. I volunteer at the local museums every summer; I volunteer at the senior center; I'm active in fund raisers for various local causes.

But I cannot afford to miss a day, or several days, of mystery shopping in order to volunteer. The places I volunteer for understand I must have flexibility, and they appreciate what I bring to the table.

smiling smiley

None of them are paid positions.

If I'm getting paid, I'm not a volunteer -- I'm an employee (or an Independent Contractor).
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