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Fed up of being used

(33 Posts)
AliceS Sun 03-Apr-22 22:48:59

I applied to volunteer as a trustee for a mental health organisation. The meeting and selection process took a long time over 3 months. Met with Director after being an observer to a zoom meeting with my chosen Foundation. The company is £50,000 in debt so offered professional feedback on how to improve web content, social media strategy, fundraising campaigns and community outreach. Had follow up meeting with two on the team. They said it wasn't an interview but were asking me a lot of questions like 'should we employ someone?' 'what do you think is the priority of the organisation?' 'How would we promote the foundation?' etc. One of them was very dismissive of my answers and the Director already admitted that he'd filled the position I applied for halfway in the meeting. I felt used and disappointed and feel that I have offered them free advice with no end result. I have studied at three universities, have two fellowships and over 30 years experience across the arts, heritage and education sectors so I don't know why they didn't offer me anything and just strung me along. My family think it is because it's all friends together and the Director said 'I feel that we would be holding you back' which is a weird thing to say as I offered my services for free. Any thoughts? I don't think I will bother volunteering again.

B9exchange Sun 03-Apr-22 23:48:05

I'm sorry for your poor experience, obviously one organisation that should have jumped at getting you on board and didn't. But there are lots of other organisations, keep going until you find one that is a good fit.

BlueBelle Mon 04-Apr-22 06:55:55

I d put it behind you and forget about it ….their loss
Perhaps you offered too much advise for an interview and they felt overwhelm by your knowledge

Why not try some more ‘simple’ volunteering where you ll have some fun Think what you enjoy, apart from academia,
Good luck

PECS Mon 04-Apr-22 07:36:42

Maybe their style of management & ethos did not align with yours...might be a lucky escape.

Try looking at the Inspiring Governance website. Schools are always on the hunt for governors & trustees with skills, knowledge & time to give.

M0nica Mon 04-Apr-22 07:55:26

I think anyone who engages in volunteer work sooner ot later comes up against a group, that ask for help that they do not really want, or cannot use.

I have been involved with a number of organisations over the years and in most cases the work has been fulfilling and enjoyable, but I have also had disappointments as you have had, with charitie that are overjoyed when you contact them, very keen and then either cannot or do not follow through.

Keep trying, there is a charity out there that is desperate for the skills you offer.

Oopsadaisy1 Mon 04-Apr-22 07:57:07

It sounds as though you were overqualified for a volunteer position.

Maybe the Director wanted a volunteer who be quiet and nod a lot?

PECS Mon 04-Apr-22 08:04:44

Relooking at your OP AliceS maybe they took your feedback as too critical. If those interviewing you were personally invested in the things for which you offered constructive advice & may have taken umbrage. Or was there a question in the process asking for your opinions on website etc?

BlueBelle Mon 04-Apr-22 08:37:35

I think an interview is to see what sort of person you are and if you would fit in as well as if you are qualified enough unfortunately you choose to use it as a free professional advice session which may have been overwhelming and also seen as very critical of the organisation
It was your choice to offer them your free very professional advice
A big shame for you but remember next time keep your main knowledge back until you get the post
Good luck for any future applications

eazybee Mon 04-Apr-22 09:10:48

Fed up of being used.
I don't think one unsuccessful application for a voluntary post, an interview and a debriefing session could accurately be called 'being used.' You chose to give them advice which may have been useful or may have been inappropriate and possibly influenced their decision.

Humduh Mon 04-Apr-22 09:19:05

I disagree easybee. After three years of interviewing knowing my age may be a factor in my lack of success I certainly feel employers use the opportunity to get free advice. In my many years in the NHS on interview panels I saw others do this. One person Vs an organisation can often be no win.

Vintagejazz Mon 04-Apr-22 09:19:32

I don't think they were using you see either. You may have had good ideas that weren't practical for them to implement or didn't fit with their ethos.

Daisymae Mon 04-Apr-22 09:24:39

I had a couple of attempts at volunteering when I first retired. One charity went through the whole process including clearance which cost money only to find that the person who interviewed me fell out with colleagues. End result was that I was never used. Another time I ended up with a different charity obtaining benefits for people who really wanted companionship. I gave up too.

25Avalon Mon 04-Apr-22 09:28:20

A trustee is not quite the same as a regular volunteer. Whilst they were happy to pick your brains maybe they didn’t feel you were suited to a trustee role which is about holding assets and making sure they are used solely for the beneficiaries. You obviously have much wider knowledge. Please don’t let it put you off volunteering as you have a lot to offer to an organisation that will appreciate it.

crazygranny Tue 05-Apr-22 11:25:19

What a good job you didn't get involved with people like that!

Rosina Tue 05-Apr-22 11:29:08

Volunteering can be tricky at times - I tried with the CAB, only to find they wanted me to take minutes at meetings that lasted 'up to two hours' every week, type them and distribute. As I don't do shorthand, and type only as most people do with a keyboard on the PC, I had to decline that tempting offer. I have found other really interesting opportunites since, but a friend had a similar experince to yours.
As a volunteer she set up an entire system for a charity, she established contacts, visited suppliers and got the entire system computerised and ready to go. The offer had been made for a paid position once this was done, but at the interview it was given to a person that she knew was friendly with the manager. She was then asked to train the person - as a volunteer. Unsurprisingly, she didn't.

Elizabeth27 Tue 05-Apr-22 11:29:44

After speaking to you they may have found that you would not fit in and rather than saying that were being kind saying the post had already been filled. I cannot think of a reason why they would waste their time stringing you along for no reason.

Newgran59 Tue 05-Apr-22 11:49:05

Please don't give up! I never realised how many organisations rely on volunteers to function until I retired. Your skills are just those needed by many charities, I am sure you will find one that makes you feel appreciated and fulfilled.

jaylucy Tue 05-Apr-22 12:33:50

Sometimes the position was filled before even advertised internally but a company has to be seen to go through the correct procedure.
So, they got some free advice that they may or may not use, but you need to put it down to experience and move on and I am sorry to say this, but sometimes your attitude may come across wrong - listing your qualifications may hav e appeared that you can be arrogant .
With many voluntary positions, it is often more about your personality and how you will fit with the rest of the team than your qualifications and education history!

AliceS Tue 05-Apr-22 12:46:17

Thanks all. Didn't bring up qualifications to the group of final meeting. Just frustrated attending a meeting giving a lot of ideas away. I suggested online donations from celebrity patrons, outreach with local media outlets and crowdfunding. Not to sound defensive but never rowed or talked over the board members.

Tanjamaltija Tue 05-Apr-22 12:48:31

Offer an inch and they take an ell, is the case with most volunteering. So... I say what I am going to do. What I do not say i am going to do, I will not do. End of story. You could have asked them why they asked for your advice and strung you along... and the interview - because that is what it was - should have stopped the minute they told you the position is filled. "OK< thank you, so I don't think you'll be needing mne to answer any more questions. Goodbye..." and you sawitch off your camera. These people make me spitting angry. If you notice, it's always the same people who wash the floor and takle the curtrains hnome to be laundered, and always the same ones who give interviews to the press, althnough everyone is supposed to be equal.

grandtanteJE65 Tue 05-Apr-22 12:55:05

Next time you volunteer somewhere make sure there are no friends, relations etc involved.

I would also find out the qualifications of the committee or board before trotting out my own academic qualifications, as most people who do not have university degrees feel intimidate by those of us who do, or simply find us arrogant.

I see no reason to allow yourself to be strung along from one interview to another when you are volunteering. That might well have been appropriate if you had been applying for a position at executive level.

However try just to let it go.

notgran Tue 05-Apr-22 14:19:45

Your suggestions are your donation to that charity. My philosophy in life has always been if after the interview they don't want me, it's their loss. Either look for something else or just carry on enjoying your life without donating your time for free.

NannaFirework Tue 05-Apr-22 15:34:05

Don’t let those fools put you off volunteering - wow any organisation would be lucky to have you xxx

Daffonanna Tue 05-Apr-22 16:03:32

Many schools are struggling to recruit governors at the moment and it’s really interesting and worthwhile voluntary job . My school has a skills wish list and it seems you would tick every box .

DiscoDancer1975 Tue 05-Apr-22 16:10:22

It is sad, but you knew it was a volunteering post when you applied.

My husband has always been very wary of this in his career. Now semi retired, he mostly does research. If he’s ever asked for something not in the remit of that work, he will say he can help.....for a fee!