GWRRA Minnesota Chapter Q

Gold Wing Road Riders Association, America's Heartland (Region E)


Editorial - Why Volunteering May be a Bad Idea for You
James Rivord | 7/28/2018

I read several newsletters and blogs related to my job as a software developer. I read a blog post by Louis Davidson on I cannot find a link to the original article online. The article was software based, I changed it a little to be GWRRA based. But I am only passing on another’s words and giving the original author credit. The article follows.

Recently, as I was doing some work for the upcoming summit, a question popped in my head: “Why am I doing this?”

It reminded me of the time when I was young (and idealistic). I went to the leader of a non-profit group asked about making it my permanent vocation. The leader looked at me, and asked the following question: “Is there anything else you feel an equal or greater desire to do? If so, try that first.” Taken aback, I answered that I was getting interested in database work from my current job. The rest is a twisted historical tale, but I never did find out if this person sensed I was unsuited for this vocation that shares a lot of similarities with volunteering, or if it was just the question that was asked of everyone. However, after 20 or so years in the community, I know the reason the question needed to be asked.

One of the things that almost anyone coming to a chapter event, district event, or ride will be inundated with is “Do you want to get involved? Why don’t you speak at our event? Why don’t you start an event? Are you on Facebook, if so, check out our chapter page, if not, ‘why not’?”

If you are considering giving in to the call for volunteering in GWRRA, you need to ask yourself that question I was asked. “Is there anything else you would rather be doing?” If so, do it, and don’t feel bad about it. This goes for event organizing, speaking, taking tickets at Wing Ding, picking sessions, writing blogs, answering questions, whatever you are considering doing. If your undeniable desire is to be elsewhere, you are going to be a terrible volunteer. If you have ever worked with volunteers, you will recognize that a terrible volunteer is worse than no volunteer at all. Thinking you have a staff of people to help you achieve a task is great until helpers vanish into the ether, and you end up doing the work of 15 alone.

Now that I have your attention, realize my point isn’t to dissuade everyone else from volunteering. No, the point is that that you need to understand the costs to you before committing, so that your commitment will be true. Any gift of time you provide to GWRRA will certainly have lasting value to others, who, like yourself, have vocational needs that are most likely going to be met by the kindness of strangers.

Just be wary that, as you volunteer to do more and more, you are possibly going to miss things like:

  • Children’s extra-curricular activities
  • Events, like sporting events, concerts, etc.
  • Exercise
  • Sleep

A side benefit of volunteering in GWRRA is that you often end up with another group of people you call family and friends who are also giving up part of their life to assist others, including you. GWRRA is filled with amazing people and these friends will often assist you in ways that are amazing such as:

  • Having people that you can ask questions that will help you out anytime, and usually getting a better answer than you can pay for
  • Assist with finding that next riding opportunity

As a final consideration, understand that volunteering in GWRRA could be a thankless act. You may get a pat on the back, a free meal, and maybe even an award. Most people in GWRRA could make better money by working a spatula at Wendy’s, and the hours would probably be more predictable.

The question I asked myself to open an event: “Why am I doing this?” was not the first or last time I will think this, but so far, through all the years my reply to myself is: “because it is worth it”.

Louis Davidson (@drsql) from