8 Ways to Give Support When You Have Limited Time

8 Ways to Give Support When You Have Limited Time By Diana Schneidman

Have you been reading what I’ve been reading? That women can’t say “no” when asked to take on volunteer responsibilities. That we have to learn to stand up for ourselves and turn down unpaid “opportunities.”

How are you doing with that?

If you’re like the women I’m experiencing in my life, it’s simply not true. Women say “no” all the time and don’t think twice about it.

That’s why those of us who sometimes say “yes” feel more burdened than ever. We’re getting “helpful” suggestions from the peanut gallery, but not enough people are stepping forward to help out.

Those of us serving as president or chairing events are starting to feel like horses’ patouties. The socially acceptable term for this emotional state is “burnout”.

I myself have resigned from the boards of several organizations, both professional and service oriented. I had served for years as secretary or PR chair of associations, in part because these roles used my greatest talents and fit into my schedule as a work-at-home writer.

Eventually I realized that Robert’s Rules of Order bores me to tears and so does writing minutes. As for PR, it’s so similar to my paid work that I feel like I’m sitting down to more work but without pay, resulting in a longer workday with insufficient variety.

Now I am down to but one organization. I serve as president of my local Toastmasters Club. I serve for a selfish reason: Toastmasters lets me practice public speaking in a format where I can choose topics relevant to developing my business and publicizing my book, speak twice a month, and obtain critiques from a competent audience, all at a price much lower than professional speech coaching.

I’ll bet you think I’m going to ask you to reconsider and take on more leadership roles in organizations. After all, your work benefits us all and you enrich the institutions you support, even society as a whole.

Surprise!

I am going to suggest something much different.

I suggest instead that we find ways to support our organizations with a limited time commitment and that we continue this limited participation in ways that emotionally support those who do the work.

Here are eight suggestions on how we can help the clubs—and their officers—that we care about:

1. Join the organization even if you cannot be active.

Political and lobbying organizations, for instance, become more influential as they claim larger numbers of members. All organizations can accomplish more if they have more dues-paying members.

2. Attend meetings and show support.

Even if you can’t be an officer, chair a project, or deeply involve yourself in other ways, your organization’s leadership appreciates member participation. It’s discouraging to plan an event and then look out upon rows of empty chairs.

3. Help out at events when you can.

Bake for the bake sale or buy the merchandise the fund-raising committee pushes. Even if you cannot help with planning or serve on the committee, try to arrive a few minutes early or stay a little late to help with set-up or take-down. Your officers need the help.

4. Say thank you.

Give the officers a pat on the back. Carrying on the work with minimal support from others is exhausting and demoralizing. People need positive feedback so be among those who give it.

5. Be positive.

Quite enough members are prompt with their criticism and corrections. Attendees who did not get the right vegetarian or gluten-free meal will let organizers know. People who don’t like the acoustics of the meeting room or drove ‘round several times to find a parking spot get their complaints heard. Leaders need to hear what is right as well as what is wrong.

6. Don’t suggest projects or additional work if you can’t help carry it out.

A member of our Toastmasters Club suggested in the business portion of the meeting that I reissue my oral comments as written emails to the club. Previously she had turned down an invitation to serve as an officer because she is too busy with work. Fortunately I was too classy to pound her on the head with my gavel. I’m busy with work too and not looking for additional chores. Furthermore, if all the members attended the meetings, they would have no need for written updates.

7. Refrain from sharing your great visions with the group.

Anyone can think big. It’s much more difficult to find people who will serve big. Those still willing to be officers may be tired and discouraged; heaping super-sized objectives on them exhausts them. (Or even angers them.) If in doubt, see #6 above.

8. Encourage officers to hire paid administrators to carry out some of the work if the club’s budget allows.

Sometimes it’s simply not possible. Other times funds are available but the organization would prefer to dedicate those funds to the group’s cause. Some valued organizations will go out of existence if they cannot hire help.

What about you? Are you taking on leadership roles in the clubs you support? What are you doing to help out? Are you comfortable saying “no”?

Diana Schneidman helps people who want to land well-paid freelance and consulting work quickly. Her publishing and coaching practice is named Stand Up 8 Times after a Japanese proverb: Fall down seven times, stand up eight. She walks her talk—she is also a freelance writer and researcher specializing in the insurance and asset management industries at DianaWrites. Diana has restarted her dormant freelance practice several times after corporate terminations. Diana is the author of Real Skills, Real Income: A Proven Marketing System to Land Well-Paid Freelance and Consulting Work in 30 Days or Less, available on Amazon.

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