Wednesday, December 11, 2002

WHY I'M A CYNIC (part 289) Here's what I learned this week. People who volunteer with an organization are much more likely to support that organization financially. HOWEVER, some organizations beg for volunteers - not because they need help or manpower but because they want more money; a corp of volunteers often turns into a pool of donors.

I'm still trying to sort it all out in my own mind - there's nothing wrong with using volunteers (they are there to be used) But there's an attitude that's wrong. Instead of appreciating a volunteer for the skills they can bring (or doing the unskilled scut work) they are valued for their future potential as a funder. ("Please, come help us . . . and don't forget to sign a nice fat check on your way out the door!")

This puts a HUGE black cloud over the whole world of volunteering. The plan feels SO WRONG! I can see the logic - I send money and supplies to the places I've worked (there's a certain "emotional attachment" after having been in the trenches and seeing firsthand the vision of a group. It's probably more effective than a letter from the Executive Director begging for cash. But it's misleading, and it opens up all kinds of other questions that I don't like (Do you screen volunteers based on their net worth? Do you leave things undone so there are things for the "volunteers" to do? How can volunteers know they are actually needed - - and not just watching an elaborate (sneaky) sales pitch.

The non-profit world is just as rotten, and deceitful as the for-profit world (only the for-profits might actually be more honest about their goals!)