Are you wondering if it is time to leave your volunteer job or project? If you are battling with your conscience about this issue, know you are not alone. People leave volunteer work all the time, for many different reasons, and it is likely they all struggle with making the decision to leave.
After all, you have presumably taken on the voluntary work because you care about the work the organization is doing and you want to do your part.
Leaving an organization that you know needs all the help it can get can be a tricky thing to do. In fact, you may subconsciously know you want to resign, even if your conscious mind is telling you to stay because it is important to help. Do not be afraid of leaving your voluntary position though. Remaining in a position, whether it is paid or voluntary, when you are miserable or unhappy benefits no one in the long run. Use the following indicators that could be telling you that it is time to leave.
Is your general attitude good, or stressed?
How do you feel during your time working as a volunteer? During work and after your shift, do you feel frustrated, stressed, overwhelmed or resentful? If so, these are signs that you are not enjoying the work or finding it too difficult. Of course, any work, voluntary or paid, will be stressful and difficult at times, but if your frustrations have mounted over time and you have been on a downward slope, it is time to consider whether you should leave.
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Ask yourself: when was the last time you were optimistic, joyful and enthusiastic about the work? It is worth asking your friends and family that question about yourself too, as they are probably more objective. If they have noticed your mood and passion has declined over time and you are now feeling stressed or depressed after every session you work, this could give you the confirmation you need to know it is time to resign.
Has your health been impacted?
If you are stressed and frustrated in your voluntary work, this can create mental health problems such as depression. Stress can also create physical symptoms like headaches, sweaty palms and nausea. If the work is making you physically or mentally ill, then you know the time for leaving has come.
Are other areas of your life suffering because of your volunteerism?
If you have burned out and are starting to feel overwhelmed with your work, you might find yourself shirking your workload and making up excuses for not attending to your own responsibilities toward your family and friends. This is not good for you or the organization you are volunteering with. If you are feeling disengaged with the work so much that you are not performing well, you need to consider leaving.
Are you often upset or angry with others?
If you feel uninspired and resentful when you are working in your voluntary position, you could become angry with other volunteers, members of staff and clients. If your voluntary work includes assisting people, such as children, vulnerable adults, seniors or people with learning difficulties, you could end up being cranky with them too. If your relationships with others become problematic, that will not do anyone any good.
Do you find yourself overreacting to minor situations?
Any work, voluntary or paid, comes with daily problems that need to be resolved. This is just part and parcel of working. If you are content in your work, minor problems can be dealt with swiftly and with little stress. If you find yourself continually overreacting to these issues and getting overly frustrated about little things, it could be time to put in your notice.
Are you constantly frustrated with the organization’s leadership?
Just because you are working for a worthy cause, it does not mean the organization’s management are doing everything in the right way. You may be feeling just as frustrated with their decisions and their bureaucratic system as you would in paid employment. Harassment, verbal abuse and bullying from management is not unheard of within the world of voluntary work too. If you are having regular issues with the management, it will leave you feeling stressed and demoralized, which is something you should not have to put up with.
After all, you are not even getting paid. If the situation continues and looks like it will not be resolved, then you probably need to leave.
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If you are experiencing any of the above, then consider these:
Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”
It is fantastic that you give up your free time in order to help others but many people who like to work voluntarily end up taking on more than they can handle. When people or organizations ask if you can help, you may be the type of person that just says yes to everything. As much as that is an admirable trait, there are only so many things one person can deal with. Taking on too much voluntary work can create the issues listed above. Therefore, it can be better to take on one or two voluntary positions where you are able to give your all, rather than spreading yourself thin across several positions that could ultimately lead to burn out.
Don’t Put Yourself in Uncomfortable Situations
Volunteering can sometimes mean putting yourself into uncomfortable situations. For instance, you may have to deal with abusive mentally-ill people, combative families or an injustice that cannot be resolved. Sure, you want to help, which is why you volunteered in the first place, but you may have underestimated just how challenging, demanding and uncomfortable the reality is. Therefore, do not be afraid to say no to being put into those situations if they are too much for you to handle. There are many opportunities for volunteerism and staying within an organization that makes you uncomfortable benefits no one.
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