Monday, June 27, 2011

Blog Action Day Post: Thoughts on Volunteering

I am a software engineer. I work 40+ hours a week, in a cube next to a wall - a dead-end pathway. I plug away, having a little code fiesta at my desk with very little interaction with others. But, hey, it pays for my agility habit!

Since I work a lot, my time is very valuable to me. Attending agility trials becomes MY time: time for me, time for my dogs, and time to turn into a social butterfly. Working like a dog at a trial, especially after working like a dog at my job, can be unappealing. There are a lot of factors that determine whether or not I volunteer at a trial.

  1. Most people like getting a paycheck, especially when it supports their agility addictions. Trial bucks are a great way of encouraging people like me to help. $2 here and there can add up to a free run or two. It's also a great way to get the volunteers to enter a future trial, as those bucks are burning holes in their pockets.
  2. If a club is new and/or struggling, I will work. I selfishly want the club to continue having trials, and it's to my benefit to pitch in when needed.
  3. If I am being or have been treated poorly, forget it.
I trial secretary for a club, and am rewarded with certificates for free entries. If you think it's a cake job, think again. You get tons of emails, phone calls, rules questions, and change requests. I also joke that I am a full-service trial secretary - I do all the paperwork, I'll score, and I bake goodies for the workers.

I am the chief scorekeeper for a small club. I get non-tournament entries in return for 1.5 dogs. I say 1.5 since one dog runs everything and one is nearing retirement. I really want this small club to be successful so I can continue playing with my dogs locally. I have score kept for a small club out-of-town as well, and I did it for lunch, and, well, the people were just so darn nice!

What prevents me from helping can be how the club, in general, behaves.

The Screech Owl
I used to travel to a particular trial in California frequently. However, it's difficult to even want to attend, much less volunteer, when you have venue-specific people "helping" at a venue that he/she doesn't like, especially listening to the screeching of how said volunteer is missing a great trial in his/her venue non-stop. This particular club also is known for being slow, as the course builders snarl at those willing to schlep equipment around.

The Beaten Dog
Another club has few members able to do scoring. I am asked to score. I spend the entire weekend running numbers like an accountant, away from my dogs and my friends. I am "rewarded" with trial bucks that don't even cover the cost of one future run, and no thanks. I do not volunteer for this club anymore. This is akin to running a course with your dog, and not playing with or treating your dog afterward.

The Yell-Off
Listening to the trial committee YELL constantly. Hey, when labor is either for a pittance or free, you get what you get. Don't yell at us! Kill us with kindness.

The Hostage Crisis
I blogged about being held hostage at a trial earlier.

The Clipboard Master
Someone who walks around, bossing others, demanding everyone pitch in, being ungrateful, yet all this trial committee person does is carry a clipboard. Does he set a bar? Nope. Does he help move the A-Frame? Nope. Does he even say "Thanks"? Nope.

The Hoarder
This happened to a friend of mine. She pole sat for a class that lasted for over an hour, and the volunteer coordinator wouldn't give her a raffle ticket unless she worked three classes.

The Winner
What tickles me the most is having someone come up and say, "Thanks for helping out. You're doing great." I think this is the best reward of them all. An email to the Yahoo Group thanking everyone is insufficient. Everyone likes when their boss tells them, "Job well done," and it's perhaps the BEST thing a club can do to encourage volunteers.


hobnoblin said...

You categorized your post under "rant" but you madea few good points and enlarged my perspective. Thanks!

pat said...

I am very familiar with the "Clipboard Master". He only gives orders but never even breaks a sweat himself. In his venue he has lost many competitors and friends because of the way he treats people.