Over the years I’ve done various types of volunteer work. Most of it I really enjoyed, and was pleased with the organizations I worked with. Trying to volunteer in DC is somehow incredibly difficult though. I’ve found a few places I like going to, and while the jobs can be exhausting (who really wants to peel onions for 3 hours), I liked the other people I was working with and the organization’s mission. The biggest down side is the wait list. I have to sign up months in advance at several places, and if I have to cancel it will be months before I get a open slot to go back.
After participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk for the last few years, I decided I wanted to do more with the organization. Every time I contact them about volunteering, I wait months for a response. Another organization called me two or three months after I’d filled out the application and expressed interest in a few of their volunteer programs. By the time they called I’d forgotten I’d been waiting to hear from them!
Long ago, as part of previous jobs, I had to manage and coordinate volunteers for various projects. I know it can be daunting to keep up with the requests, and how much else someone in that position has to do. But not responding seems wrong in so many ways. I find it such a turn a turn off to the organization as whole. It tells me either 1. you don’t really need the help, 2. the person, department or entire organization or program is disorganized, and worse yet, 3. it makes me question supporting you in the first place, especially for direct service organizations. I’m less likely to donate money.
There are some organizations and missions I will always support, and just find another way to do so, for example, the Alzheimer’s Association. Some I am fully willing to walk away from. I’ve done that with a few in the DC area. In an attempt to find something else to do, I looked at VolunteerMatch. Still not finding what I wanted I began looking at their options for volunteer from home. It is a great way to help organizations if you can be matched up well. I was just not interested with the options.
I am still without a regular volunteer job, and would love to find something in DC with a local organization with a direct impact on the community. I don’t think it should be this difficult!