There’s been a blow-up recently in a community group I left a couple of years ago. Admitting my potential bias, that blow-up is based on people I, too, lost all respect for – triggering my exit.
Yet bias or not, it’s sad to see a completely worthless defence brought out in so many organisations, that being:
It’s an insidious argument because it without cursory inspection, it seems valid: don’t criticise the people who volunteer – they’re giving up their own time in order to do something for the community.
…Like the bully who volunteers at a thrift-shop then abuses all her staff?
…Like the nurse who volunteers for a community health outreach programme then steals their limited supplies?
…Like the politician who volunteers for a fund-raising charity then claims it all back on expenses?
…Like the paedophile who volunteers to help a children’s after-school baby-sitting service then touches the children inappropriately?
…Like the dentist who volunteers to do some free dental work then does an unprofessionally sloppy job?
Actions done under the aegis of volunteering are not in and of themselves a just reason to ignore the actions if they (or their doer) were inappropriate, unprofessional or any other un… or in… you want to apply. The same standards we apply to other areas of life, professional or personal, apply equally to volunteering.
Regardless of whether there is a valid defence against a complaint, or a valid reason to state the complaint should have been handled a different way, to say a complaint is improper because it’s levelled against a person who is doing the work in the capacity of a volunteer is an entirely unreasonable defence.
Volunteering is not a shield.