Volunteering is great, but due diligence is important…

Unsurprisingly, everyone is after your time.

Over the last fifteen years (in the UK), numerous “opportunities” have been replaced with volunteers.

I’m an advocate of volunteering. I used to volunteer for BBC Careers events, Chesham community helping-hands during covid, and intend to use my time to volunteer for the Institute of Engineering and Technology

But, it’s important to carry out due-diligence and investigation before you take on any volunteer opportunity.

Unscrupulous people would love nothing better than having someone coding for their app, project, club, organisation.

Guess what, you might suddenly have a backlog, tasks, diary, project-plan and be browbeaten by other volunteers. Be careful of committees, large whatsApp groups, and retired club-secretaries.

Remember your time commitment, boundaries, and sense-of-humour.

Do some investigation.

Take a look at linkedin profiles, github repos, websites, the individuals already on the project, venture capital raised, and paid employees who might appear to be volunteers.

It’s surprising what you can find at companies house.

Be completely honest about the amount of time you can spend on the project. Create a boundary, and don’t over-commit. Some volunteers are lovely people. Others are not.

Ask questions.

Describe what you would like to get out of the volunteering experience. This should also be the basis of your boundary.

Other volunteers should respect these.

You should not feel pressure to fix x,y,and z; delaying others, shipping deadlines, oh dear the cloud infra has gone bang…..

You are not a machine. This is a volunteer position, which should be fun**

If it doesn’t feel right, walk away.

Any self-respecting individual, club, project, app, organisation, will understand. If there is unnecessary drama, be stoic and discreetly walk away, you did the right thing.

In my experience, local grassroots volunteering is the best. If something doesn’t already exist, set up something yourself.

** This is important.