How to know when it's Time...

Updated: Mar 22

...to leave an organization?


With most areas in your life, including your volunteer commitments, an annual evaluation is a good habit to practice. To reduce conflict with the other competing issues at the beginning of the year, review your volunteer efforts in the middle or end of a year. As you reflect on the past year, recall how you invested your time, talent, and treasure, review each cause you supported. Make an inclusive list of entities you support including those you had to say “no” to over the past year. Review the organization’s mission statement to ensure that it still aligns with your purpose in this phase of your life. Rank them all to see if priorities have changed. If a new organization becomes your number one, it doesn’t mean that you no longer believe in a certain ministry, cause, or organization, rather another one is more of a priority at this time in your life.


Because you do not want to overcommit and under deliver, this audit is necessary. This examination should include how much time, talent, and treasure you have to invest. When considering time, three factors should be included: the number of hours needed, how their needs fit in your calendar, and if there is a learning curve. You may have 3 hours a month to give, and while the need is 10 hours. If they need the most help in May and you have a graduation, first communion, and anniversary on top of Mother’s Day, this may not be the year to commit your time to that organization. Maybe you support them financially, or you comment, share and like their social media posts to broaden their reach and reconsider a larger time investment the following year. Finally, consider if you need to learn a new skill for your role and factor in the amount of time needed to do so. Often overlooked, increasing your skillset can double or triple the amount of time needed complete your assignment. It may or may not be the right time for you to manage a learning curve. Honestly reviewing your time commitments will help you feel less overwhelmed, possibly reduce burnout, and enable you to reap the benefits from volunteering, not add additional stress to your life.

Some families consider supporting one organization with their time, another their talent and a third with their treasure exclusively for a dedicated amount of time. An example would be supporting one organization through Amazon Smile for 6 months and switching out for another the last half of the year. Depending on your spending habits, you may want to alternate who receives your bonus holiday shopping annually. While this works for organizations you volunteer with, the same split does not work when you are in leadership. Clearly, you will have more of a commitment to a board position as opposed to a volunteer situation.


There are some organizations that you will be in for a lifetime- possibly with varying roles, while others are just for a season. Both are OKAY. Being honest about what you can give benefits you and your organization. You will not feel guilty about what you were not able to give and they will not be frustrated because they are expecting more engagement. The ripple effect that your giving has can be positive or negative. If you agree to call 30 distribution centers to arrange pick up days, and you do not, irreparable harm may be done. While the leadership in most cases are able to pick up the ball and rally, the pieces can’t always be reassembled. The organization that you love, support, and want to help loses credibility, money, and current or potential partnerships. Sometimes volunteers can default to having the attitude “I am not being paid and this organization should be grateful for whatever I can give.” BELIEVE ME, they are. However, they are also counting on you to give what you’ve committed to, and if you don’t, someone else has to take up the slack.

Audit of your commitments

First, complete an audit of your volunteer commitments, how much time you have to give, and how you support them. This form can help. Realize that depending on the season in your life, you may have 3 times as many at one point or none for a period of time. Either is okay. You have to respect the season of life you are in now.


Rank your list

Second, rank the importance of each organization this year. Are you now interested in supporting a health awareness cause because it hits close to home? Is there a new opportunity in your community that you want to support to ensure its success or a centennial celebration that makes you want to rejoin an organization from years ago? That’s great, but you may have to give up the pet adoption program in exchange. Be honest with yourself.

Now, for the hard part

Third, make any changes. If you are unable to commit to your desired level, inform the organization of your limitations and ask for their suggestions. Would they like what you can give or would they rather you step back to allow someone able to give more to participate? With enough notice, the spots can be filled. Don’t underestimate being a cheerleader for an organization. If there is one that you love, but cannot directly support, your indirect recruiting and fundraising efforts could exceed what you are able to give exponentially.

Schedule it

Fourth, calendar important dates, commitments, and needs to ensure you do not miss important dates or deadlines and that you don’t overschedule yourself. There is nothing worse than realizing that you agreed to be at two places of high priority at the same time. Whether it's a paper or electronic calendar, be sure to pencil in all of the events you plan to attend now and consult your calendar before committing to another event.


Stick to it

Once you are at capacity, refrain from adding anything else to your plate for the rest of the year. You can, however, keep a running list of organizations to consider in your review at the end of the next year.


If it's been a while since your last assessment, if you have more time on your hands than you know what to do with, or if you are feeling overwhelmed by your commitments, consider completing your assessment now.



What organizations or ministries do you support? Do you feel overwhelmed or comfortable with your level of commitment? Are you looking for organizations or ministries to support?

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