So I have been volunteering with a fantastic organization I truly love their initiatives but the problem is that rn my work is very limited and I should only check weekly for updates on a certain website and modify the database we have. Sometimes I feel like the current database I have is not even gonna be used and they will use the database they have without including the recent updates that I added. The person responsible is extremely busy I send her the database weekly and she doesnt respond. I am really willing to give more to this community and initially, our agreement was that I will start another projet with her as well as the database project. I have already approached her once so that she gives me the training for my current database project and so I am afraid I cannot approach her again about like “do you actually want me to do this work” or “when will you let me do more work”.

I am also exremely interested in writing this volunteering on my cv but until now it is very few hours.

Any advice?

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I’m so glad you posted here! I responded to you on Reddit, and so I know you have already read this, but I’m going to post it here too, for others to read. And I really hope other people here on TechSoup will offer their own advice on your situation:

“so I am afraid I cannot approach her again about like “do you actually want me to do this work” or “when will you let me do more work”.”

First off, thank you for your service. Secondly, I wish I could say that your experience is rare and unique, but it’s not. It’s the case so so often: a staff member gets told to find a volunteer to do some database project or transcription project or some other internally-needed thing, and they aren’t all that bought into the idea but they do it, and the volunteer does a great job, but feels like “Does anyone care that I’m doing this?”, and the manager is distant, uncommunicative and not as supportive and helpful as they should be.

I think it’s time for you to approach her again. IT’S HER JOB. Have a meeting - don’t do this via email. Ask for a time and date of a meeting, and then say, “so, I’m feeling like this work I’m doing doesn’t really matter, and this database I have created is not even gonna be used. I’m treating this work very seriously, but I’m not feeling like it really matters. I really, really want to do this project and I want to do a good job - it’s important to me to do a good job for you, to do something you will value. I was really hesitant to come to you with this, because I know you are very busy, but I think it’s time for us to revisit this project and make sure what I’m doing is what you want and I’m not wasting my time.”

And if she gets mad, or you get the feeling she’s frustrated, you get to leave. You do. And you get to chalk this up to a learning experience. And you still get to put it on your resume and when you get asked about it, you get to talk about how you learned about how important it is, when upper management creates a need for a consultant or a volunteer or even a full time staff person, they need to make sure middle management has bought into the idea and will support it.

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Hi sed! Your question is sadly very common in the volunteering world, because staff is stretched pretty thin. But, you are not annoying! As a long, long time volunteer manager, the most upsetting thing for me, was when a volunteer never brought their concerns to me and just quit. I always felt horrible, wondering what I did or could have done to make that volunteer’s concerns heard. As much as we, volunteer managers trust you and have confidence in you, we also do not want to lose you because we have not given you the time you need to do your job and understand how valuable you are. So, here’s my advice: 1. Ask your supervisor for 10 minutes of scheduled time to chat. 2. Lay out your concerns just as you did here in this forum. 3. Ask to brainstorm together how you will be given critical updates, feedback etc. 4. Ask for a follow-up to review. I know this sounds like you are taking the lead, but it shows your supervisor that you take your responsibilities seriously and you need them to as well. Good luck, let us know how it goes and thank you for stepping up to make our communities better.


Hi Sed.

There isn’t much I can add to what Jayne and Meridian have already said. Both have given you excellent practical advice.

I would absolutely encourage you to act on their advice. You have lots to offer the organisation and if they can’t see that and / or don’t want to utilise your skills and time effectively then you should be moving on to someone who would actually value your input, not least because they’d be more likely to give you what you want from volunteering.

Good luck.


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Yes, that is good advice, chalk it up to a learning experience.