I am less involved in my local chapter this year than I have been in the past. In the past, I’ve been treasurer and contest coordinator, two jobs that take up huge chunks of time. Now I’m librarian, loop manager (not a big deal), BIAW coordinator, I’m in charge of yearly goal setting (also not a big deal) and I write a regular column for the newsletter (in addition to the librarian one. Not a big deal.) JoAnn and I were also on the nominating committee this year. What I’ve found is that it’s harder and harder to get people to volunteer for jobs in the chapter. No one wanted to be on the board, no one wanted to take over as chairperson – heck, no one even wants to volunteer to be interviewed for the newsletter!

I can completely understand the desire to protect the work, to protect the time you use to write. That was a huge part of my own decision to become less involved this year – I was trying to focus on the writing. But at the same time, in order to have a functioning chapter, a functioning organization, volunteers are needed. So where’s the balance? How do we get new people involved? How do we keep the same people from doing all the work and burning out?

Any volunteers to dry him off?
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Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Mary, we have the same problem in our chapter. The same 5 people volunteer over and over again. The apathy is ridiculous. It's come to the point that we just call people randomly and ask them point blank to volunteer instead of waiting for people to raise their hands.

Trish Milburn said...

Speaking as one of the people who did too much for too long and burned out (my own fault), I know how important it is to spread out the work. I agree that you get better results if you go to a person and ask them one-on-one if they'll volunteer. We recently had to do this to get someone to fill in the VP post since our VP had to step down because of frantic deadlines. Even though I'm not doing a zillion chapter things like I used to, I still sit on the board as the immediate past president (non-voting position) and just wrote an article for the newsletter. I'm also taking pictures of chapter members at National for the newsletter. If all members, even in a small chapter, can do little things like that, they add up to everything getting done.

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

With the on-line chapters it doesn't seem to be problem, with my smaller chapter not so many eager ones. I'm actually having to give up my positions to focus more on my writing, but no one wants to take over the newsletter editor position. =)

MJFredrick said...

Elizabeth, interesting strategy. I wonder how motivated the appointed people are to do the job, though. We couldn't even get someone to be on the budget committee.

Trish, we did the one-on-one thing, still had trouble getting results. I mean, seriously, they barely volunteer to answer 8 questions for a newsletter interview! Of course, we have a big contest and a good-sized conference, which wears out volunteers. Those, and newsletter, treasurer and president seem to be the time-eaters. Kelly, good luck getting someone to take that newsletter position.

Do you ever feel guilty for not doing more, even though you've done your share?

Colleen Gleason said...

ME! ME! I volunteer!!!!!

Colleen, who will be visiting this page quite frequently now and who is not able to accept any more volunteer positions...except this one.

Kara Lennox said...

Mary--It's a continual problem, getting people to volunteer. It sounds like you're still doing A LOT. One small chapter I belonged to (mystery, not romance) disbanded because no one would volunteer to be president. You may need to trim some of the services you're providing, etc. When members face losing a service (like the newsletter!) sometimes they step up to the plate.

MJFredrick said...

Kara, cutting services - you're right, that would get them moving. I mean, why pay dues if you're not getting anything out of it? But why should the same people be providing all the benefits, too?

Colleen, I knew I'd get a volunteer for that one eventually ;) I found a bunch of new Gerry pictures when I was feeling sorry for myself earlier, so I'll keep you supplied.

Anonymous said...

Well, here I am turning in my stuff for the Hospitality chair, as I read this blog entry! Gulp. I let the pres know I was stepping down, but I would bring all nametags to reflect the current board position first. I've been the Hospitality "nametag lady" for two years, and I just didn't want to do it anymore. I guess I am getting lazy, maybe? But part of me is just tired inside. And maybe that is what is afflicting the chapter. Everyone is just tired inside, in their personal life, work life, clubs, all. Is our chapter maybe trying to do too much? It's something to consider. I was glad we were able to fill the board posts, Mar...there were a few times I started to wonder if it was going to happen! We're in a transition period in our group, I think...and I hope things work out.


MJFredrick said...

JoAnn, two years is plenty long to lug that stuff around. Personally, I think hospitality and membership should be combined. The fewer positions, the easier to fill, I think.

And we are writers after all. We need to focus on writing.

Shesawriter said...


I come online and it's one o'clock in the morning over here and I'm about to go to bed WITH MY HUSBAND and I come by your blog just to say hi before beddybye and then ....

I see **that** picture.

I see HIM.

You are cruel, Mary. So, very, very cruel. How do you sleep at night? You should be ashamed, Mary. Be very ashamed. Torturing middle-aged women with pictures like that. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Now I have to go post a Gerard picture on MY blog. Thanks a lot Mary. Grrrr.


MJFredrick said...

I'm sorry, Tanya ;) Believe me, I'm just as tortured. Now I'm heading over to your blog to see your pic!

Michele said...

I was just visiting Tanya and decided to pop on over.
I am a reader, not writer but I have an observational contribution about the apathy you are experiencing in your chapter....
I'm the Women's Club President at my church. This is my 3rd year. What you are describing; lack of volunteers, same core people holding it together until they are fried, decreased participation, this apathy seems to be pervasive. It is a revelation that apathy is affecting totally different aspects of society with one area in common: it is volunteer based. Hearing that not only your chapter and my church club have similar problems, but indeed MANY other church clubs and even school committees that have a parent base are experiencing the EXACT same symptoms all over the country. The big question, how to change that? How to reverse it? What the heck is going on? I find this quite worrisome!!! I was surprised to see this issue discussed here....I had no idea that it went beyond School and Church. Best of luck in your battle!!!!!!
Yes, battle because that is how it feels at times.

MJFredrick said...

Michele, you're dead on. I hadn't made the connection, but at my old school, the PTA was run by teachers. No parents would bother to get involved, and so teachers, who already have a lot on their plates, were holding offices. It is worrisome, because if people can't be bothered with their children's education, then what? If people pay dues to belong to a group that offers services, but aren't willing to do their part, then what?

Michele said...

Then what? That's easy...and sad. It dies.
If no one steps forward to take the reins come this October/November, the club as the church knows it will dissolve. This comes at a time when our new parish priest has been finding ways to increase our responsibilities...hosting receptions for confirmations, inter-faith gatherings and other community social commitments. Last event, only Me, my VP and secretary setup, presented and cleaned up after the Confirmation reception, which included the Bishop attending and close to 135 guests. 3 of us..that's it..not one "member" volunteered to help. Only 3 other people baked or dropped off food. Our pleas and notices for 3 weeks prior to the event went unheeded. This was the last straw for me and my officers. No 4th term. If we can't get even the basic support..we're outta there and the club will be no more. I hate to be the one at the end...closing the doors so-to-speak after 35 years...not a very nice thing to put on a resume...but darn it! We can only do so much! Same as you and your chapter...you. can. only. do.so. much!!!! Anyone that dares criticize or wants to give "creative advice" , well they can put up or shut up. If they don't like something, they need to step up and make the changes themselves and THEN, it will "be the way it should be". Otherwise....Soyanara sweetcheeks.....
Gee, am I sounding bitter? Yup. Will I feel guilty once all is said and done? Nope...I did what I could just like you and others in your chapter have done. Be PROUD of that....it's a patriotic characteristic...and it gives you strength for having done it. It's those in the past, now and in the future who've done or will do what you've done , committed their time and talents to a cause they believed in. That's what the Patriots of this country did. In a small but none-the-less important way, it is what ALL of us volunteers are doing now. Although we are not being recognized as such, we are heroes in our own small way.
Be glad you stood up to be counted when you were needed. No One can take that away from you..even if the worst scenario does occur...the closing of a "chapter".

MJFredrick said...

Michele, that is so sad about your church group. THREE people? Just ridiculous. Have you tried to get the priest to lay on the guilt? It sounds like he has good intentions, maybe he doesn't realize how poor participation is. But you're right - no guilt.


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