Children are back in school this fall, and families have become fair game for volunteer seekers. Parent-teacher associations, sports teams, school music groups, and activity clubs of all sorts are issuing pleas for folks to pitch in. Bake sales, magazine drives, rummage sales, booster club fundraisers, and other events are already cropping up on calendars.
Mothers and fathers may wish to support their kids’ academic and extracurricular pursuits with their own time and talents, but multiple recruiting requests can be overwhelming. Once a parent has chosen where to share his or her expertise and hours for the school year, it may be time to enforce some personal boundaries.
How can a parent politely decline a plea for volunteers?
Here are six courteous and considerate responses families can offer, if they choose not to accept invitations to volunteer.
- “I’m going to have to take a pass this time, but thanks for asking.” This is a firm and perfectly acceptable answer.
- “I appreciate your consideration, but that is not a cause I wish to support.” This response is particularly fitting for special-interest pleas, or, if your child has bowed out of the activity or event in question.
- “No, thank you. But I might be able to recommend someone who might be a great fit for that job.” This answer should be used sparingly, however, as turnabout is fair play. You never know when another parent might reciprocate with a referral for volunteerism.
- “I’d love to help with the _____________, but my other time commitments prevent me from doing so this year.” Resist the urge to delineate your many responsibilities at this point, signing off instead to allow the inquirer to contact the next name on his or her list of potential volunteers.
- “Thanks for thinking of me, but I simply cannot take on that task right now.” No further explanation is needed.
- “Although I’m opting not to volunteer, is there another way I can support the cause?” Your family may be able to contribute funds or supplies, rather than their own time.
Here’s the key to declining requests for parent participation.
Never waver, and don’t apologize for declining a volunteer plea. Such responses only invite additional dialogue and possible cajoling. There’s no reason to be sorry, unless you never step up to the proverbial plate.
Please note: Thank you for reading and for sharing the link to this article with others. Feel free to +1, Digg, Facebook, Pin, Stumble, Tweet, or otherwise pass the http link along. However, this content is copyrighted, so the actual article (or images) may not be copied and reposted on blogs, social networking sites, websites, or elsewhere.
Readers: You are invited to subscribe (confidentially and free) to receive e-mail updates whenever this columnist publishes a new article. Feel free to follow on Google Plus and Twitter. You are also invited to join this writer's fan page.
Writers: Want to learn how you can join Examiner as a columnist in your choice of cities and topics? Email me for details.