In praise of the ad hoc volunteer

It has been a busy week on the work front and and part of the success of the week was the ad hoc help from members of the team outside the core group who helped with ad hoc tasks including translation verifications.

In the same vein, some of my activities for the week include support volunteer events for which I have had no core or ongoing role at all. In one case, I will take photos at the event to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the Plant Recreation Centre. They’ll be an activity to walk 10,000 steps around our lovely neighbourhood.

In another, I have offered to do some postering for the Community Cup. In both cases, the short-term commitment is exactly what I need given my existing commitments.

In my research for this piece I was wondering why there are not more ad hoc volunteering activities and why some public servants (many of whom who have a volunteer day in their collective agreements) struggle to use their day for actual volunteering if they have no existing commitment.

The logic is similar to why, I as a manager, sometimes struggle to hire coop or summer students – a short term commitment seems too difficult and even risky to manage with all else on my plate.

On the upside, planning and a willingness to adapt existing tools (such as job descriptions) can counter this kind of thinking as this guide outlines.  Engaging Ad Hoc Volunteers: A Guide for Non-profit Organizations was created by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre in Singapore.

The guide notes that the ad hoc volunteer can bring certain benefits not necessarily available to the usual volunteer workforce (including the ability to as for ad hoc support from specialized services.). I’d also add that the ad hoc volunteer can become an eventual longer term volunteer and will also be an ambassador for your organization after even a small involvement.

I’d love to see more organizations create and promote ad hoc volunteering.


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