Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Art & volunteers
I have worked for most of my professional life with volunteers and for volunteers. I also am a volunteer myself in the art world. I worked on the board of directors of my local art association and am a volunteer teacher/moderator on an online art forum and have done for the last two years.
For those who don't work in the non profit industry - or the art industry for that matter - volunteering is a foreign and often dirty word to them. 'Why would you work for nothing?' I hear over and over again. 'What? A meeting at night?'
Volunteers are simply staff that aren't paid for what they do. I treat them the same way I do staff and as a volunteer, I expect to be treated equally well. And I also expect that the effort that I put into volunteering does not cause undue stress or that I am used or abused in that position.
In the world of art online, people expect a lot from an art forum. They never consider that what they are getting is some of the finest instruction from experienced artists for free. And often they come to expect - or demand - it and more without fully realizing the work that behind the scenes to make the finished product come to them or the fact that these individuals also have jobs and lives besides their volunteer roles.
So try to understand what volunteers do in your community; the impact they make; the work that is carried out by them and the dollars that are saved by local and federal governments through the work of volunteers.