Day Sixty-Nine: Volunteerism

Coming up on the end of the overcommitment period; there’s some carry-over volunteerism. Maybe more coming if people take me up on the “write a song” offer for the radio station funding drive. It’s fun! But it’s still a commitment, and it’s still stuff.

Working with my wife, who is working at the station, on the funding drive has got me thinking. About volunteerism, and commitment, and work. I feel like I’m getting more done for the funding drive than some of the staff who are theoretically working on it. But I’m a volunteer — I can pick this stuff up and pick it down.

Back when I was running an all-volunteer radio station, I got a lot out of my volunteers. Incredible dedication. Tremendous energy. Great results.

And I wonder, sometimes, if paying people to do a fun job doesn’t make the job un-fun. And the people less effective.

Volunteerism is fun. Work isn’t. By definition.

Last summer, somebody asked me if I liked my job. I thought about it. My answer was, “when I’m not doing it.” It’s true! Whenever I sit back and think about what I do for a living, it’s great. It’s varied, fun, interesting, ever changing. But when I’m actually¬†in the office,¬†it’s hectic, pressuring and sometimes annoying.

I volunteer to do similar sorts of things as my work. That, I enjoy wholeheartedly. Partly because I don’t really answer to anyone, partly because my work is purely appreciated. Partly because I don’t need to do it. I can quit a volunteer gig.

I’m not sure where my head is at with this particular thing. This period of dramatically increased engagement has given me a much closer look at the organization. The staff seem stressed and overwhelmed, doing jobs that I’ve seen volunteers take on in other places with no pay. Sometimes I wonder if paying people for passion work is counter-productive. No conclusions, just woolgathering.