Will Work For… Nothing

Do you give it away? Almost half our population aged 15-plus is volunteering for a good cause. That means over 12 million Canadians are working for nothing. They’re helping out in schools, community associations, religious groups and sports organizations. They’re coaching soccer, visiting hospitals, joining charitable boards, taking their Little Sisters out for ice cream.

Interestingly, there are certain types of volunteers who do most of the work. These tend to be parents with school-aged children, people with university degrees and folks who go to religious services every week. Although I score two out of three, my own volunteer portfolio looks, I think, rather shabby this year. My family commitments, job and household responsibilities tend to be all-consuming.

But just because I’m not taking on shifts at the hospital gift shop or fundraising for the homeless, that doesn’t mean I never give it away for free. In fact, my line of work, freelance writing, makes it fairly easy to work for nothing: In recent weeks I’ve given advice to new writers, reviewed a website, edited a grant proposal, all at no charge. Next month I’ll be a volunteer judge for an editors’ award. It’s relatively easy because I can do these jobs without moving my butt one inch from my comfy office chair.

That brings me to the next question: When do you say no? How do you know when a cause is worthy? When is it a good deed to work for nothing? When, on the other hand, are you simply being ripped off?

I discovered an entertaining flowchart that helps answer that question. If you’re a writer like me, an illustrator, an editor or a designer you will relate well. Even if you freelance in a different line of work, you might find it fits. (Cussword alert: Some language may offend, so surfer discretion is advised.) Click here to try it out, or just enjoy a chortle. It’s certainly more fun than the magic eight ball I referenced in my last blog post…

P.S. There are only four days left to vote for 50 Good Deeds to win a Best Health blog award. Click here if you’d like to add your vote!

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