The Indispensable Volunteer

Elizabeth Ogden
OPINION

So you've decided to become a volunteer! You are either so young you still have time on your hands, or your family is raised and you no longer must hold down a job that may or may not have been spiritually rewarding. In either case, it's time for something that is rewarding.

Take me as an example of how not to be an indispensable volunteer. When I first volunteered, the organization gave top priority to raising money. That didn't sit too well with me. As a volunteer, shouldn't I have the right to contribute my valuable expertise instead of my money, which I did not have much of? Fund raising was the last thing I wanted to do.

  • They asked me what skills I could bring to my job as a volunteer. (Well, I play the violin and write songs and know how to ride a horse...)
  • They tried again: Could I help by tabling at such and such an affair on next Tuesday from 4:00 to 6:00 pm? (Sorry, grand-kids are visiting.)
  • Could I help with a telephone blitz on Thursday, 3:00 pm.? (Sorry again, doctor's appointment.)
  • Long pause, then: Can you contribute $1000 $500 $50 Other . (Uh, maybe another time, next month.)

I was fired for some reason. You figure.

Then I got realistic and accepted a grunge job with an organization, whose cause I loved. That was what they needed. (Nobody was too interested in violin lessons.) So I did it. And I didn't get fired; I got valued.

Therein lies the secret of becoming an indispensable volunteer fulfill the job that is needed even if it's not your thing.

There are many worthy causes to choose from. You could start by searching on Google for "Pierce County Volunteer Opportunities."  You will get a long list.  Here are some links to my favorite volunteer areas.

So pick your cause. Then join an organization furthering your cause, and give it your all. The cause I picked, Getting Big Money Out of Politics, ties in with all worthy causes. washclean.org  is specifically geared to elect legislators free from the undue influence of Big Money. Of course, it goes without saying, contributing your time is greatly appreciated, whether or not you can contribute money, but more power to you when you do.

But to be an indispensable volunteer, try:

  • Reaching out of your comfort zone when necessary.
  • Being time adaptable and ready to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done.
  • Being job adaptable and ready to learn how it is done, even if you haven't a clue.
  • Accepting the painful fact that at present money rules the world. It takes good money to negate bad money. Contribute financially as much as you can. Enlist others to do the same and learn how to fund-raise yourself. You, not somebody else.

Believe me, you'll be INDISPENSABLE!