Chickens, occasionally AKA is just too damn whipped-up about something to await the perfect question. I have advice and I need to give it…now! Thus, the occasional Unsolicited Advice from moi.  This morning AKA is musing on something that’s been in her craw lately: how there seems to be some people out there who don’t quite understand the role of volunteers.  Confusion on this issue can often lead to behavior that boils AKA’s blood so let’s review some ground rules shall we?

-Be nice to volunteers.

-Don’t be mean to volunteers.

-Volunteers are not servants.

-Volunteers are people too.

See? That was easy. Why then do so many people lose sight of these little rules?

Whether it’s a part of your actual job or running an event for your kids’ school or you’re helping out at your church most of us – at one point or another – are in the position of being a volunteer, working with volunteers or managing volunteers. A bad vol will want to take over but they are few and far between. A good vol just wants to be appreciated, heard and given direction – mostly they want to help.   I really don’t care if they aren’t following your every detailed instruction or if they are annoying you.  Doing everything yourself is annoying too. Muster all your diplomacy and dig deep to find your ability to give people the benefit of the doubt.  It makes life so much easier. It gives you time to deal with the Cretans when they do come along. It reduces stress.

If you ask a graphic designer friend to make you an invite for your social club’s party, the proper response to her efforts is: fabulous! I never saw anything so beautiful! Of course you can tell her if she spelled the name of the venue wrong but seriously, unless she turns in something in that is offensive or obscene, say ‘thank you’ and fawn all over her. She did for free what she is usually paid good money for dammit! Same thing if you ask someone to cook something for a shelter or help with decorations for a party. Give them the guidelines and then back off and ready the gushing admiration.  Letting the volunteer feel ownership over their project will make them more likely to hang around and more likely to recruit others to help. If you treat them like a number, it will only make it easier for them to quit. Step back and look at the big picture and gather your perspective people – you have free help!  Provide direction of course, but then let it go and just say ‘thank you.’