Is Community Service & Volunteerism a Disappointment to You?

by | Feb 19, 2022

“I have lost the desire to help out my local nonprofits. How do I find a charity or organization that appreciates my hard work?”

Some of the answers from my perspective as a volunteer & professional services contractor…

But, first, I’ll start with my story, “the good, the bad, the really ugly stuff!”

A quote from my blog post below…

“When we first drove into town in September 2005, the “Sea Hag” in Depoe Bay was our first stop. We were told, “you can get the best breakfast and clam chowder there, and fish ‘n chips too.” It’s still this way to this day, now in our 17th year on the coast…

Former Depoe Bay Mayor Jim White. Loved by all!

Mayor Jim White 2005

When we walked into the Hag, former Mayor Jim White, greeted us with a big smile. He was sitting alone. He got right up, held out his hand and said, “welcome to Depoe Bay folks. Come join me for breakfast.”

We loved Jim White in that very moment. He was a true inspiration. I was struck by is passion and caring ways.

I wanted to get in involved in our community back then, and remain highly engaged to this day…

Wow! A journey, indeed. A journey of our lifetime, as a family. We love Depoe Bay, Little Whale Cove, and Lincoln County Oregon…”

Now, for my reflections of late, especially since Covid hit our community in 2020. This feeling has evolved over these 17 years, sadly.

As a heart and soul ❤️ take. I’m disheartened, sad, and truly disappointed in what I see as the issues that have taken me to a low level of confidence in non-profits we serve as volunteers.

1. Lack of formal, relevant training that brings me up to speed as quickly as possible.

It has always been my concern as a volunteer board member that we fail miserably here. Why non-profit boards can’t take this seriously, God only knows. In-kind & volunteer resources are the greatest donation on the planet. Too many small, under $1million/year, non-profits don’t use best practices to track this effectively.

No kidding! These donations are like cash. They can be tracked & used as leverage for grants. Go figure!

2. Poor communication: either too little or too much regarding upcoming volunteer needs or events. 

I can go on & on about this tragedy of misinformation, disinformation, confusion, and often disrespect. There is no excuse for it except bad leadership, governance and fiduciary practices by a board and staff.

3. Constant requests for donations.

Here, I see the problem as a “dollars/cents” mindset. The value of inkind/volunteer contributions goes without notice or acknowledgement. Sad, isn’t it?

4. An overall sense that my time and and the care I am donating is not utilized in the best possible manner. 

Wow! This one is triggering after too many years of disappointment, disregard & disrespect. It’s easy to say thank you often to volunteers. Tell them you appreciate them. Acknowledge them, including board members and staff. All of us can use some extra kindness, especially volunteers who offer up themselves and own cash donations. You know, empathy and compassion ❤️.

5. No one seems to try to make me even a small part of the team. 

The lack of transparency of some non-profit boards I’ve been engaged with over the years is beyond my imagination. Really, a non-profit organization belongs to the community, owned by the community, governed by the community. Yet, some behave like a private family owned business. Do you see this too?

Well, got that off my chest. Feels good. I can heal now. How about you?

Steve & Judy Sparks Children and Families in Life After Trauma (CFLAT)
See story, Jim White, former Mayor, City of Depoe Bay, Oregon

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
View all posts by stevesparks →

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