Arrogant Charity Golf Tournaments Sock It To Volunteers

The old spirit of volunteerism has really changed in my lifetime. The change is not so much on the part of those willing to give of their time and talents. It’s with those who run some of these charity outfits and their attitude towards volunteers. One of Larry Bohannan‘s recent columns reported on the golfing tournament community’s “sock it to volunteers” attitude.

In the beginning our golf tournaments welcomed and appreciated their volunteers. As time went on some began to realize they were attracting more volunteer applicants than needed for a smooth, low overhead operation. That’s when things began to change. It became clear there was more supply than demand. The solution was obvious. Why not make a few bucks out of the situation? That’s when a decision was made to charge a cash fee – $75, $95, or whatever – for the privilege of – VOLUNTEERING! These smart Madison Avenue golf tournament types put a great spin on this bit of creative gouging by claiming the fee is to cover the cost of the uniforms. These “uniforms” (pants, shirts, cap, and windbreakers) usually carry sponsor advertising logos and the tournaments like to change their outfits each year so it’s not possible for volunteers to recycle last year’s uniform. At tournament’s end most of the garments are thrown away or donated to one of the thrift stores.

Last year the Kraft Nabisco LPGA tournament joined the “sock it to volunteers” club and imposed a $75 fee on all their volunteers. They subsequently received a rude shock. The number of volunteer applicants dropped! This year they’re running newspaper advertisements seeking help. They need more volunteers. Well, golly gee whiz. I’ll bet there’s a good reason the supply of free help suddenly dried up. Anyone care to offer a guess?

The Palm Springs International Film Festival requires volunteers to wear a suggested uniform. It consists of black pants and a white shirt. Period! No logos, no special brand of pants or shirt – just the same types of garments suitable for other occasions. Hey, they even allow white shirts with somebody else’s logo over the breast pocket. Now, here’s a surprise. The festival attracts lots of volunteers! I wonder if they’re given thought to charging their volunteers for something? Seems to me they might be missing out on a good thing.

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