Reassessing Your Charity

What's in it for you?

Michelle Alswager BioBy Michelle Alswager

February 2011 — Ouch, I know! When we all think of charity we aren't supposed to be thinking, "Hey, what's in it for me?" There are not many volunteers and donors out there looking to gain something by participating in a charity. At least that has been my experience.

Sure there are a few people out there who climb onto a board of directors to pad their circum vitae. But most of the time we meet people who get involved for very personal reasons – because someone is affected by a disease, for example. Someone close. I mean lets face it, the Edsel Fords and John Maddens of the world aren't scanning the Internet to find a good charity, but rather they love someone with a disease and they gravitated to cure it.

I got involved when my son was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of three. Just try to hold me back; I was ready to do anything I could for my charity. I got involved on every level possible and strived to make my goals higher. I applauded volunteer-driven perspective and, when I became a staff member, I was proud to say to volunteers: "This is your organization, I'm here to support you." I said it because I meant it.

When you put a group of people personally connected to this thing called diabetes in a room together, you can smell the passion in the air.

I will never forget when the local chapter gave me a Volunteer of the Year award. I certainly didn't need something to prove my hard work, but damn it felt good. Let's call it "paid in warm fuzzies." It feels good when you are acknowledged, when you feel "wanted," and people go out of their way to make processes as easy as possible for volunteers, donors, and of course the best ones—the NEW donors.

Arnold Donald, a past CEO of JDRF coined the phrase "donor-centric." The idea was simple—tailor the entire organization around the donor. And as we all know, a volunteer can become a potential donor and vice versa. His theme still resonates for me and when I do my charity work, I wonder, "am I donor-centric?"

I know you are passionate about finding a cure and will go to just about any length to make that happen. But poor business practices within these big organizations leave distaste in my mouth. How do we define what is or isn't acceptable donor relations? Who is keeping national level staff in check?

I ask you, is our passion allowing mediocrity? Do we deserve better?

Maybe its time for you to stand up and say, "Enough already. I demand change. I demand to be given the paid sum of being treated with respect and courtesy, and thanked for being a part of the team." When do the volunteers take back their volunteer driven organization? Their charity? Especially when we all know it is the volunteer that possesses the passion. Which one of us is ready to print t-shirts imprinted with "Take Back the Org?" You, the donor, the volunteer, deserve good customer service.

That's my point.


dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.

Last Modified Date: July 01, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

More on this Topic

No items are associated with this tag

Sign up for FREE dLife Newsletters

dLife Membership is FREE! Get exclusive access, free recipes, newsletters, savings, and much more! FPO

You are subscribed!
You are subscribed!
You are subscribed!
109 Views 0 comments
by Carey Potash
I hate to even suggest this, but what if the cure never comes? What if long-term clinical human trials go on indefinitely into the future with no hope in sight? What if cinnamon is just cinnamon? What if cactus juice is just cactus juice and reptile saliva just reptile saliva? And what if the BCG drug is a vaccine for tuberculosis and nothing more? I have this terrible feeling I’ll be an old man with a long grey wizard’s beard and a walking cane made out of...