The Break Up: Getting out of a bad charity relationship

There are so many good ideas out there; programs and initiatives that either look great, or like they could be great with a little help.

Getting into a charitable activity is often easy, especially if it’s grass roots and informal. And especially if you’re a compulsive volunteer, like me.

But what about getting out? When you’ve attended meeting after meeting and things aren’t going in a direction that works for you? Or you realize that the tasks you’re ending up with are out of whack with how you hoped to spend your time? Or you realize the goals of the organization don’t line up with yours?

If the organization you’re ‘breaking up’ with has done something wrong (like tax fraud), it’s easier – be outraged, resign. Just like (in a way) it’s easier to end a romantic relationship where the other person has betrayed you. Black and white. Clear cause-and-effect.

But when the organization is not so much bad, as not working for you, it’s more complicated. You may still believe they’re doing good work, and wish them the best. But you, personally, want out. ASAP.

So, just like a romantic relationship where no one’s at fault for it not working anymore, you have to find a gracious exit strategy that leaves everyone relatively unscathed. That’s hard. At least, it is for me.

I’ve often found myself in the uncomfortable position of wanting out, but feeling terribly guilty about it. Organizations, of course, rarely want to let go of any donor or volunteer. They do everything they can to coax you to stay.

The simple solution is to be careful about what we get ourselves into; to avoid ever reaching the ‘breaking up’ stage. But no matter how careful we are, this could still happen.

Savvy Do Gooders, has it happened to you? Have you found a graceful way out that didn’t make you feel like dirt? Please share, either way.

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