Being Voluntold: Weekend Poll

By: wheatmeister
April 6, 2013

It’s tough to be the leader trying to fill volunteer assignments in the ward:  food to take to the sick or bring to an activity, helpers for a scouting drive, people to clean the church, people to feed the missionaries. It always seems like the same handful of people do all the work. Some leaders try to break this up by assigning people to do things rather than taking volunteers.

We’ve even coined the phrase “voluntelling” people to do something as a tongue in cheek way of acknowledging the difficulty of getting volunteers.  How do you feel about this practice?  Is it a volun-do or a volun-don’t?  Are these leaders following Satan’s plan by forcing compliance or are they just being good leaders?  You decide!

How do you feel about making assignments (voluntelling) to fill volunteer slots? (choose the best answer)

  • It is inappropriate and presumptuous for a leader to do this. (40%, 32 Votes)
  • It's likely to backfire on leaders if they think they can force a person to volunteer. (35%, 28 Votes)
  • It is necessary to ease the burden on the usual 10 people. (15%, 12 Votes)
  • Most people should be able to get a replacement if they can't do it. If it has to revert to the requester, they need to handle it. (10%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 80

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15 Responses to Being Voluntold: Weekend Poll

  1. Syphax on April 6, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    I’m not sure how I feel about this. I have received “voluntold” assignments with happiness and others with annoyance. I think that there should be considerations for how difficult the assignment is – if a member of the ward has a serious illness and their children need to be watched for a day, this does not seem like the sort of thing that should be “voluntold.” If it’s a light assignment, I’m usually okay with it.

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  2. Kramer on April 6, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    “Are these leaders following Satan’s plan by forcing compliance or are they just being good leaders? You decide!”
    Except you color the response by only allowing four shades f negative responses.
    My choice, “They might actually learn the joy of service.”

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  3. LovelyLauren on April 6, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    We are “voluntold” (assigned) weekends to clean the church and I refuse to go. We are one of the wealthiest churches around and we can’t pay someone in need to clean the church for a few ours?

    And it’s at 8 AM on Saturday mornings, the one morning of the week where I can sleep in.

    So yeah, I’m going to go with presumptuous. Let people volunteer. Encourage everyone. Make everyone knowledgeable about volunteer opportunities.

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  4. anon on April 6, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    I don’t agree with with being voluntold to clean the church for a variety of reasons.

    In one ward I lived in many years ago, the bishop required anyone receiving help from fast offerings to do a service for the ward. If we are not going to hire professionals to clean the church why can’t the recipients of fast offerings, many of whom are young and healthy, clean the church? Of course I would not require anyone who was physical incapable of cleaning the church to do so in order to get financial assistance.

    Also, I just want to add that there are people who are automatically exempt from cleaning the building in my ward, not just based on physical ability.

    I think voluntelling someone means that a lot of people are not going to show up and the work will not get done. Easter Sunday half the primary teachers were missing and very few of them made any effort to find a substitute. Not one teacher contacted us to ask if we could sub and we have 5 in primary (and we ALWAYS say yes).

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  5. Paolo on April 7, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    This is one thing that really does rile me up. This is a volunteer organization, and to tell someone that they are going to “volunteer” for a cleaning assignment or a welfare assignment is crazy. Kind of reminds me of the military.

    There are many who gladly volunteer; they have the time, they feel that working at welfare square is a good humanitarian thing to do, they feel blessed for doing something for others, etc. There are those who are the guilt-laden, who feel that they are compelled to do it because others won’t, and they are “martyrs” for the assignment.

    I personally think it’s nice to give people the chance to serve in whatever assignment they feel that they can and really want to. Pushing assignments down on people and calling them something else just doesn’t sit right with me. It’s just part of the whole corporate numbers thing that we have so big in this church. A Stake pres gets told how many people will show up to clean the conf. center or work at the cannery or whatever and due to expediency, they force it down to wards, who then see just one more task to get done, so let’s just assign it out and tell them that if they can’t make it then get your own substitute, damn it! I would like to option to volunteer for something like temple cleaning in an evening rather than being told to take a day off work to go to the cannery.

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  6. Rigel Hawthorne on April 7, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    When I hear “Andrew Unsworth is at the organ”, I still think of Andrew Ainsworth and wonder what pearls of wisdom he would have to share these days if he was still blogging.

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  7. Jeff Spector on April 7, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    Oh, boo hoo. If you don’t want to do it, just say no. Even if you are assigned, no one can make you do it.

    A bunch of complainers, really.

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  8. hawkgrrrl on April 8, 2013 at 12:16 AM

    Rigel – AA is somewhat active on the MoSto FB group if you are inclined to check it out.

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  9. hawkgrrrl on April 8, 2013 at 12:19 AM

    Jeff: Which are the whiners? The leaders who complain that nobody volunteers so they guilt trip people or sign them up for stuff that they can’t do, the people who always volunteer for stuff and so get asked always, or the ones who don’t pull their weight (many of whom conveniently don’t make eye contact when asked)?

    It’s remarkably easy to get out of volunteering, and as a leader, it’s incredibly hard to get people to help at times. Every volunteer organization runs into this. How do you propose getting stuff done?

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  10. Jeff Spector on April 8, 2013 at 7:01 AM

    The same people volunteer or are asked because, for the most part, they enjoy or don’t mind doing it.

    The complainers I am referring to are those, like in the comments, who whine and complain about being asked/volunteered to do anything.

    Some of us actually like helping out when we can.

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  11. Rigel Hawthorne on April 8, 2013 at 7:44 PM

    This topic makes me think of the missionary on my mission who criticized a companion for not wanting to go tracting in the rain. Another Elder said, “Nobody WANTS to go tracting in the rain, you just put on you kappa (rubber rainsuit) and you do it.” If you volunteer to go on a mission, you didn’t necessarily just volunteer for the good days. You kind of made yourself available for all the stuff that rolls down too. (Even if it is as menial as vacuuming a carpet in the conference center). You could argue that missionaries have a greater obligation to volunteer, I guess.

    Hawkgrrrl…thanks for the tip, although I have made it this far in life without opening a facebook account, so not sure I will go there!

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  12. LovelyLauren on April 8, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    I’ve brought meals, I’ve attended meetings, babysat, went to the storehouse etc. when someone asked me.

    I’m all fine with that. What I’m not fine with is being signed up for something without being asked. I don’t mind saying no, I mind not having the option to say no.

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  13. Mormon Heretic on April 8, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    Rigel, I found that tracting in the rain was pretty useless. Nobody wanted to let 2 wet elders get their furniture wet, so it really was a bad idea. I did it a few times, but found that it was a stupid idea to tract in the rain. I wouldn’t recommend it to others.

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  14. hawkgrrrl on April 8, 2013 at 10:51 PM

    Personally, I think the issue is one we all have to deal with in the church whenever we try to get people to sign up for stuff. I have never resorted to assigning things that are voluntary, but I know many have done so in frustration. Is it that they lack the skill to get people to volunteer? Is the assignment particularly unpleasant? When I’ve been voluntold (and I volunteer plenty!), it’s almost always been a time I couldn’t because if I could have, I would have signed up!

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  15. Toni on April 26, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    I voted for – “It is inappropriate and presumptuous for a leader to do this.” But I could have voted equally for – “It’s likely to backfire on leaders if they think they can force a person to volunteer.”

    I’ve seen it in action. It causes resentment, and failure of the project.

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