Sunday, November 3, 2013

Volunteer issues or, I really don't need your help

What do you do when a volunteer goes out of bounds; either in representing the organization (where/how you don't want to be represented) or asking for things you do not want (money, help, changes). 
First its good to understand as a citizen the volunteer can do anything they want, ask for things, and talk to government employees as a citizen, what they can not do is speak for your organization (unless you assigned her that task)
Eventually this is going to happen to all of us, no matter how implicit we make our rules.  I do not have all the answers, but this seems like a good path:
  1. You treat it like an employee issue, with graduated levels of intervention.
o   You of course want to start at the lowest level, and this typically could be an email, or a sit down chat about the incident and how it is affecting your mission and/or time.  Thank him for caring and maybe help him find other channels. (Make sure you document the conversation in your calendar)
o   If it continues, then you may have to get more stringent and bring in your HR folks (they know the laws) and and/or your supervisor.  Explain again your policies and why they are in place and how the organization operates.  Make sure they understand they are free to represent their opinions and beliefs, but are not free to project them on the organization. (Document)
o   You will want to involve HR if it continues,this is someplace you don’t want to tread alone; but if you have made yourself clear and documented all steps, it may be time for the volunteer to leave the organization. Yes volunteers can be let go.

2.     The second thing you should do is make sure you have been clear and have not in anyway asked her (or made her think you are asking) for help with the matter at hand.

3.     You may also want to reach out to anyone contacted by the volunteer and make sure they understand your policies and what you want to do.
Questions? Comments?