Archive for October, 2011

Enforcing the “Lines” for Volunteers

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Last week, I heard on the “news” that celebrity Lindsay Lohan showed up 40 minutes late for her required training for her court-mandated community service, so was sent home (before she was later incarcerated for violating the terms of her parole). Kudos to the charity which enforced its standards rather than accept any effort as better than no effort.
While I’m certainly not Lindsay Lohan, as I attempt to do more, I increasingly run late despite my best attempts to allocate enough time, and it seems that this is not uncommon for others. So when I personally volunteer, I must make a huge effort to overcome my tendency to run late, so that I don’t cause more harm than good, such as delaying meals for many diabetics who must medicate and eat on-time.
As volunteers increasingly take responsibility for critical tasks for nonprofits, nonprofits need to set and enforce appropriate boundaries that reinforce the high standards of their charitable missions. While incarcerating any PMD volunteers who arrive late (or unprepared) is not an option, this year I’ve begun enforcing our basic requirement to call in absences by the day before, by revoking volunteer privileges, so we don’t compromise our services. When volunteers arrive so late that we’ve already scaled back expectations for the group (thereby doing more harm than the good we originally planned), we send latecomers home. And when volunteers arrive unprepared, such as being improperly/unsafely dressed, we also send them home.

This may seem like overkill to some, but we’ve already drawn reasonable, publicly-revealed “lines,” and now we’re actually enforcing them because they are significant to the good we strive to accomplish.

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