How Much Volunteer Time Per Year is a Good Goal?

, 2018-12-24 (first published: )

Yesterday I posted about journaling with my goal being to track the time I spend on SQLOrlando (I’ll exclude time I spend at other events to keep it focused). That leads to the question of “how much time is enough” and also to asking “how much time is too much?”.

As a guess let’s say SQLSaturday is 20 hours of effort. Group meetings are 3-1/2 hours plus prep time for setting up the event, scheduling the venue, finding the speaker, etc. If I do it all myself (I shouldn’t) it’s 4 to 8 hours? Let’s say it’s 5 on average, four meetings a year, so another 20 hours. Four hours at the Summit for SQLSaturday and group meetings. That’s 44 hours before I put time into anything extra like the odd SQL lunch or two, organizing a few classes a year. There’s a little admin time in there too, reconcile the bank account, get the taxes filed, schedule an annual board meeting, etc. Call it 50 hours a year.

That seems like a lot.

Steve and I talk a lot about sustainability. Is 50 hours a year sustainable? An hour a week on average doesn’t seem like a lot, but where do you put it on the calendar? One of your lunch breaks? After the kids go to bed? Of course it’s not as easy as just doing your one hour a week. Lots of weeks of nothing, then weeks here and there have a chunk of hours. Doing 50 hours for a year seems doable. Doing it year over year without burning out? Hard to sustain.

Thinking on that guestimate (which I think might be low) I need to look again at how to do less and still do what matters OR do it better OR get some volunteers to take an hour here and there. Have to add back in some time for that!

While I think 50 is too much, it’s at odds with my plan to do more in 2019 in Orlando. I want to spend a year trying new things, planting seeds, seeing what if anything we can do that serves the community here better. For 2019 I’m going to try to limit myself to a 100 hours. It’s a lot. If I do less because I optimize or just don’t have time, that’s fine. But I’m also looking ahead to 2020 being a “normal” year that should be less than 50 hours and the last year I’ll be that active as a volunteer, at least in the SQL community. I like volunteering, I love the community I’m a part of, but it will be time to use my energy in different ways after that. I’m not being intentionally cryptic there, I don’t know what that will be yet.

All of that and I haven’t really answered my own question, what is a good hours goal for a volunteer? I’d appreciate any thoughts on what that goal should be.

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