Be Graceful

Whether because of a schedule change, a family emergency, or because the position just isn’t a fit for your personality, sometimes we have to end our ongoing volunteer commitments.  It can be difficult to tell an organization whose work you admire that you can no longer volunteer with them. Here are 6 tips for how to leave gracefully:

1. If you no longer want to volunteer because of a problem you’re having at the organization, talk with your manager first.  He/She may be able to offer a solution that will allow you to continue.

2. If you need to stop volunteering because of a change in your schedule, ask the staff about what other volunteer opportunities are possible for you.  You may be able to help in many ways.

3. Once you decide to leave your volunteer position, give them as much notice as possible.

4. Try not to leave in the middle of a project, especially if your skills are essential for its completion (e.g. a website, an event).  If you have to leave a project halfway through, try to find other ways to help complete the project.

5. If you’ve been in charge of a project for a while, leave documentation of your work (e.g. passwords, instructions, history of the project, work flow), so that it’ll be easier for another volunteer to pick up where you left off.

6. If you’ve been volunteering with people regularly (e.g. children, seniors), be sure to give them a fair amount of notice about your departure too, so that you can both say good-bye properly.

If you need to stop volunteering with an organization, for whatever reason, don’t give up on volunteering!