The volunteer’s vortex

It’s been an intense few weeks, what with my writers’ festival finale, a TV appearance, scouting for new clients, and becoming “Il Presidente” of Sydney PEN. Sad to say, I’ve also been sleeping on my sofa the past few nights, drifting off to the chemical mix that coats the newly polished floorboards in the front of my house (hence being cast out of my own bedroom and into the living/sleeping room).

Like thousands of other not-for-profits, Sydney PEN operates with one part-time administrator and an entirely volunteer committee. I firmly believe that any grantmaker with the resources and philosophical interest in contributing to one or more not-for-profit programs or organisations should have some direct participation at the coalface. There is no better way to reach an immediate and unmediated understanding of the daily challenges (not to mention power discrepancies) faced by not-for-profit entitites that, despite having been established for purposes that have nothing to do with money, expend scant time and largely volunteer energy pursuing.

I didn’t help myself by driving myself to Canberra and back to host a lecture at the National Library, exhausting myself for the weekend, only to learn today that there was money budgeted for a return airfare from Sydney …

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