16 June 2009 @ 01:35 pm
An ethical question  
If I have volunteered somewhat regularly for something, does that obligate me to continuing volunteering for it?

Specifically, I've worked the last three or four "Monthly Mass Mailings of Doom" for WUOT. I really don't want to work this month (Monday the 29th), because it's been a long month already and I'm tired, but I won't be able to work July since I'll be at EFAM (IAAP Educational Forum and Annual Meeting, formerly known as International Convention and Educational Forum, aka "International").

But if they're depending on me . . . .


Poll #1416610 Am I obligated?

Based on the information above, am I obligated to work this month's mailing?


ETA: Okay, lots of fast responses. I will respond to this month's "invitation" with "not available June or July, but try me again in August".
Surrendering to the mysteryjenett on June 16th, 2009 05:37 pm (UTC)
You are not obliged, but since you've done the last bunch, it'd probably be kind to give them a head's up that you can't do the next two.

(You should not feel obliged to give reasons - a vague "things I've got to do" should be all that's necessary, even if the thing you need to do is go home and zone out and recover.)
Trinkertrinker on June 16th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)

Let me back this up by saying that I've been wrangling the volunteers every month for LinuxGazette.Net, and this is the way I feel about the volunteers we have, as well. Don't do it unless you can, and want to - it's a volunteer thing, I understand that other things take priority. Just please don't skive off without notification.
The Redhead at the End of the Barjilesa on June 16th, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC)
I'd say that the only obligation you have in this circumstance is to let the organizer know that your schedule doesn't permit volunteering for the next couple of months, so they can ask someone else to fill in if there were specific tasks you dealt with.
Pernicious the Musquodoboit Harbour Farm Catpernishus on June 16th, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC)
A simple "I'm sorry, but I'm not able to help with this" is plenty -- one need never explain anything -- and it is simple courtesy on the part of others not even to hint otherwise.

Take it from an inveterate guilty-feeling-never-say-no-entity who is trying to learn this important life lesson...

Jim Hetleyjhetley on June 16th, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)
"Volunteer" means just that. No draft . . .

But an advance warning might be polite.
madshutterbug: RN Self Teachermadshutterbug on June 16th, 2009 05:45 pm (UTC)
First rule of Volunteer Organisations: They are Volunteering. Can't force anyone.

It's kind of a general principle. Still, coming from someone who's been involved in several different Volunteer Organisations over time, both professional and otherwise.
fatcookfatcook on June 16th, 2009 05:46 pm (UTC)
No, you are not obligated. Just tell the person in charge that, do to other commitments (mental health days count as "other commitments") that you won't be able to help for the next 2 months.

You need to take more time for yourself.
Johnjohnpalmer on June 16th, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
But I do understand your feeling obligated.

I'd argue that you might be more obligated if you'd been doing this for years, if it was a purely "Oh, Janet takes care of that!" throughout the history of the organization. (But I'd also argue that's why no one should let anything become an "oh (x) does that!" I mean, people get sick, or move away, or otherwise become unavailable.)
Xiphias Gladiusxiphias on June 16th, 2009 06:06 pm (UTC)
Volunteers are a resource. Every good manager of volunteers knows that you don't use 'em up.
Tom the Alien Cattomtac on June 20th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
Second this, really.

If volunteers actually -had- to come in against their own best interests, they would rather soon give up their roles.

Keep the balance right for yourself in deciding this, and you will help the organization keep the balance right for -itself-, too.

I predict a "worst case" would be that, if really only you could handle the stuff for June and July, then it will be waiting for you in August or whenever you return.

But much more likely is that it will get done by someone and you will be more effective in helping the organization after tending to your own needs this time.

A short "Have to miss the meeting(s)" will do. I'm in a group that operates on that basis, and it works fine. God bless!
QKat: Bubble pwns cat by jadesevladyqkat on June 16th, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
Running yourself into exhaustion (or resentment) does no one any good. Good manners, as stated above, dictate that you do let the organizers know you cannot participate this time, but you do want them to ask next time as your circumstances (and attitude) may change for the positive.

No one is irreplaceable. And you just might give someone the incentive to 'step up to the plate' and find similar talents.
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on June 16th, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC)
I see that you've already decided what to do. I'd have chimed in that they're expecting your assistance this month, but that you've plenty of time to provide them advance warning not to expect you in July.
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on June 16th, 2009 07:08 pm (UTC)
Well, what prompted the poll was getting the "looking for volunteers for June" e-mail. And the mailing is in two weeks (June 29).
starcat_jewelstarcat_jewel on June 16th, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
Okay, that's plenty of time to respond with, "I have a conflict for this month and next, but will be available again in August." You are NOT obligated to tell them what the conflict is, let alone to get permission to have one!
Stephen Harrissweh on June 17th, 2009 02:16 am (UTC)
I'd rewrite as "_may_ be available in August".

Don't commit until you are sure you _can_ commit. Many things can happen in the next 6 weeks.
Gretchenwren08 on June 18th, 2009 03:18 am (UTC)
I found your poll too late to answer it... but let me direct your mind to the definition of the word "volunteer".