Ugh! I hate hearing those words! Especially when they come from a beloved volunteer. Especially when they have done nothing wrong.
I recently received just such a call from just such a person. He is a talented and beloved volunteer youth worker. He had done nothing wrong. It was just that his work schedule was crazy and he felt he couldn't be as committed as he wanted to be.
What would you do in a situation like this? How would you respond?
Here's how I responded:
- I Acknowledged his Situation. Work schedules change. Family situations arise. Life happens. When changes happen in the lives of our volunteers, as much as they would love to drop everything else, the reality is that volunteering often ends up on the chopping block.
- I Affirmed his Efforts. I thanked him for all he had done for our students. I told him of the great compliments I had heard about him from parents and how much the kids liked him. He needed to know that his efforts made an impact, that we valued him as a person, and that he would be missed.
- I Asked him to Reimagine rather than Resign. Lastly, since he was not stepping down for unhealthy reasons or because he was simply worn out, I asked him if he would be interested in helping out from time to time as his schedule allowed. He instantly jumped at the suggestion. I told him that we would keep him on our communication list with (a) no expectations, and (b) an open invitation that if he saw something he could participate in he could contact us to help out. I also asked if I could call him from time to time if we were in a pinch. Finally, I asked him to keep us in mind if his situation changes again.