Have you ever felt forced into volunteering your time out of fear, guilt or pressure?
In fact, not too long ago I chose to step down from a leadership role in an organization I had spent years donating my time and energy towards.
Why? The truth is I was drained from feeling unsupported and guilty if an event I contributed to didn’t go as hoped. Additionally, I was often completing tasks without support, taking on responsibility out of pressure (that nobody else would do it) and in constant fear of upsetting others (because of not doing something right).
Feeling under-appreciated and forced into something (it seems) does not work well at keeping me involved in an organization for the long haul because…
On the mornings after sleepless nights with a baby,
during the days when household peace and quiet feels next to impossible,
after evenings when 7:30 p.m. feels like wa-aaa-yy past midnight
— taking on the added responsibility of a volunteer project (especially one that contributes to added feelings of fear, guilt or pressure) is the last thing I want on my already full plate.
Volunteer opportunities, friendships, family,
whining kids who don’t understand volume control … sometimes it feels like everyone needs something from you—especially your time.
As a parent, deciding who and what you will commit your valuable seconds and hours to is important (and so is learning to say no). Taking on something out of fear, guilt or pressure is not a positive way to start off and continue on with any volunteer experience.
Yet I’m hear to say:
Volunteering can and should be
a positive and rewarding experience.
Be it donating time in my child’s school, organizing a group activity or playing an active leadership role within my own Mothers’ Center Group, what works for me when deciding where to volunteer my precious time as a parent is to focus on: Finding opportunities which put me in an environment I enjoy.
If I am going to participate in any activity or leadership role above and beyond my responsibilities as parent,
- I want a welcoming environment
- I desire to feel as though my time is valued and appreciated
- I hope for an opportunity to gain a skill (or even find a strength in myself I never knew I had!)
Is that too much to ask for?
I don’t think so.
Being surrounded by an encouraging environment is often enough payment for my valuable time and (most importantly) what makes me want to give back to an organization or experience over and over again.
I expect a little bit of added pressure and stress when tossing another project onto my plate (especially during those mornings, days and evenings when nothing seems to be going right). However, if along the way my volunteer contribution starts to be based on fear, guilt and pressure, and I also begin feeling undervalued, un-appreciated and un-welcomed, most likely you will not see my name on the volunteer list the next go around.
Are you someone who’s looking for support or volunteers?
Consider creating a supportive, nurturing and encouraging environment with personal growth potential—in my book, that’s key.
As a parent, that is the environment we often try to create for our kids at home, so why shouldn’t we expect and look for it as a volunteer?
Leave a Comment: Have you ever felt pressured to volunteer out of fear or guilt? How do you decide who and what you volunteer your time for? When you are in a leadership role, how do you find support and create a positive experience and welcoming environment for volunteers?
Did You Know…
This post was inspired by an upcoming Members Only Webinar specifically targeting our Mothers’ Center Group leaders across the nation who might be looking for ways to create and maintain their own communities of volunteer support. The webinar details real solutions and ideas on how to create a more welcoming environment.
Are you interested in finding the type of support a Mothers’ Center offers but don’t have a Mothers’ Center nearby? Learn more about the Mothers’ Center culture by downloading and reading our New Group Start-up Guide here!