Friday, November 26, 2010

Why do people volunteer?

As we went around the table at a monthly Hospice meeting we explained why we were there. They ranged from:
  • Desire to share skills (many are retired nurses)
  • Desire to put a Hospice in place for personal reasons (I'm getting it ready for me!)
  • A need to give back to the community
  • A need to share skills, knowledge, education, experience, lessons
  • A selfish need to get back love (you get back more than you give!)
  • As a way of channeling energies
  • Sense of satisfaction in being a professional caregiver
  • Desire to be a patient, family and caregiver advocate
Now, as a retired teacher, I didn't feel that I could volunteer in the school system. I burned out teaching. I did feel that the lessons and the frustrations I had in being caregiver for my parents could be channeled into helping others. I realized how many nonprofits, Transfer Payment Agencies, funnel our tax dollars into providing care otherwise given by Primary Health Teams.

I have noticed, in health care, how much governments are expecting volunteers to carry the load. Volunteers make the world go around. Whether the volunteers be family, neighbours, friends, or unpaid but trained participants in groups such as Lanark Hospice, Muskoka Hospice beds, Meals on WheelsVictim Services, to name a few. The Cancer Society provides peer councillors, drivers, as well as many other supports. Now living in LHIN 10, HQ in Belleville, I did do some work for LHIN 12, in North Simcoe Muskoka. I've participated in various volunteer health agencies. Volunteerism is crucial to making the system go around.

Michael J. Worth in Nonprofit Management: Principles and Practice (2009), as found in Making the Most of Nonprofit Volunteers. I don't always trust sites like this, especially US books as they relate to health care, US and Canadian health care systems are so vastly different. But this author understands the great burdens being placed on volunteers on this continent. 
 Motivators may include:
My friend, Michele, in LTC
I wrote about her in my book!
  • Belief in the mission of the organization
  • Desire to "give back"
  • Meet new people for friendship or dating
  • Make new business contacts
  • Invited or inspired by another volunteer or staff member
  • Improve resume
  • Learn new skills
  • Benefits such as discounted event tickets
Read more at: Agency Team Planning, where they discuss that before enlisting volunteer help, a nonprofit should organize itself by considering these management tools:
Meals on Wheels Volunteers chat
Hubby (left), Keith Metcalfe, former WW II paratrooper!
  • Volunteer task list with number of people needed and estimated time
  • Job descriptions for volunteers, breaking out individual tasks
  • Organizational chart showing volunteer positions in different departments or on different committees
  • Volunteer agreement form outlining duties and commitment
  • Volunteer handbook with information about policies, important numbers and frequently asked questions about the organization
  • Orientation and training
  • A way to track volunteer work (both quality and quantity)

How, when, why and where do you volunteer?
How do you prevent burnout?

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