Thursday 22 October 2020

Volunteering on Boards: Empowerment or exploitation?

It's always an honour to be asked by an organization to become a Board member or Advisory Panel member to be "a voice" with "lived experience". And it is indeed empowering to meet with powerful people and get an insight into how decisions are made "at the top". But after a while you begin to wonder.

I volunteered on Boards for decades. It began when I became the sole parent of an autistic child. Most carers find it impossible to retain their careers so many turn to volunteering in order to remain useful members of society. Initially I found volunteering to be stimulating and empowering until I began to wonder if I was allowing myself to be taken for granted and exploited. 

Bottom line, I now find myself to be an age pensioner who cannot even afford my medical bills. 

They like to say "Time is Money" in business. But it's your time, their money. 

Now that's a wake-up call.

Don't end up like me at retirement! 

A boiling frog
Think of the metaphor of  "The Boiling Frog". They say if you put a frog in water and up the temperature very very gradually, it doesn't notice before its too late. Result: one dead boiled frog.

So don't be mad at me because I am now scrambling to commodify myself before its too late.

It would be great if you shared your experiences in the comments, either in your own name, or anonymously if you are worried about exposure

And then let's see where it goes. 

Boiling Frog Image Attribution