Being better than valueless, worthless

Today, I read an interesting and compelling article in The Atlantic magazine website called “The Bitch Is Back” by Sandra Tsing Loh. If you’re menopausal, perimenopausal or know someone who is, do read this because it asks — with women’s lifespans being so much longer than they once were — what hormonal or nuturing normality is. In the middle of the article, she throws out, this:

On the one hand, as a longtime veteran of the nonprofit world, I can no longer afford to humor the endless requests to do everything for free, particularly because no one treats you worse than the penniless.

Well, ain’t that just true, or at least true enough. With the caveat that those organizations that think they’re penniless are just as bad, while some people who have little can be remarkably giving and realistic about money. On the one hand, I think there’s the legacy presumption that if you volunteer or contribute to a lean nonprofit then you are supposed to understand and forgive shortcuts and rough manners. Also, I suspect (without evidence) that lean nonprofits — including churches — are full of people who serve and serve and serve, and don’t have much left to give. And then there’s simple forgetfulness and inertia.

No great thoughts, except that

  • perhaps church people shouldn’t be so quick to make services or events free of charge,
  • that a deposit (returned in part or full) is an incentive to take activities more seriously,
  • that plans are made that undervalue the time and expertise of volunteers, and
  • that there should be budgets to support (transport, feed, train, say) volunteers, to hire help or both.

Because nobody can — or should have to be – nurturing or giving all the time.


By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

1 comment

  1. Interesting. I’ve been advocating giving the use of our fellowship hall out for free or cheap because it’s underutilized. I won’t say we’ve been stingy in the past, because I’m new.

    On the other hand, rough manners don’t cost anything to upgrade.

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