Volunteering – It’s not EASY to Help

So, we just moved back to the area and I’m not working right now. I saw an ad in the paper for a couple of volunteer opportunities (admin/office). I figured maybe I could help out a local organization and get some current experience too – win, win!!

I guess not… They all seem to want a criminal record check and often a 6 month to 1 year commitment, and many require additional screening, and even orientation and training sessions too.No Volunteers

It’s even worse than trying to find a job! Lately, I’ve seen people I know spend weeks and weeks doing phone interviews and then going in for multiple interviews for some part-time, minimum wage job (and still not getting the position). Remember the days when you had no resume, you answered an ad in the paper, gave them a call, went and met them in person and got asked to start work the next day? Yes, that really did used to happen. Yeah, now it still happens like that on TV and in the movies!

Anyway, back to the volunteering topic… Did you know in Durham Region (Ontario) it can take up to 2 1/2 weeks (or longer if you have a previous address outside the region) and costs $55 to get a criminal check? You can get a reduced volunteer rate of $20, ONLY IF you can provide an official letter from the organization you want to volunteer with. So, my idea of getting one ahead of time BEFORE trying to volunteer would cost almost 3 times as much, and I still probably wouldn’t be able to start volunteering anywhere for almost another month. I know many organizations would like monetary donations, but perhaps that is not always an option. I thought one of the great things about volunteering your time was it was something you could offer in lieu of money.

I understand these organizations want to be careful if you are working with kids or maybe helping elderly people… but doing office or clerical work? It’s ridiculous. Has our society become so paranoid that they are willing to forego people willing to help by requiring them to jump through all kinds of hoops and bureaucratic red tape?

Personally, this has completely dampened my enthusiasm about volunteering. It’s too bad, because I was available to start RIGHT AWAY. I have a lot of great computer and administrative skills that I was willing to contribute for FREE to help out in my community. I am truly disappointed…

What’s your take on this? Should organizations have to be SO prudent, or should they loosen the requirements and just be REALLY happy to get people offering to help them for free?

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