Are you involved with volunteer work along with your regular “paid for” career? If so, you will know that there are similarities, but also differences, when operating in these two environments. The general consensus is that because volunteer work is done without financial reward, there is a greater sense of purpose associated with it. However, there is a significant factor that plays a key and sometimes varying role, and that is motivation. How this actually plays out might surprise some.
Within career work, one could very quickly point to the obvious motivators such as payment, career progression, status, etc. Closer consideration might offer a positive work environment, the challenge and job satisfaction. However you look at these extrinsic and intrinsic drivers, there is also a consequence to not delivering. Leadership also creates accountability leading to high-levels of contributions.
With volunteer work, people do this for varying reasons and, whatever the motivation, it leads to different levels of commitment. Additionally, in conflict with this is the constant that everybody is doing it for free, which then becomes a source of frustration because of the disparity of contributions. Because leadership has minimal leverage in this instance there can be a lot of complaints and this can give rise to low levels of contribution.
The solution lies in avoiding comparisons. Simply accept that volunteers align their commitment / contribution to their own motivation and then make the necessary choices. For some this will be a lot of work and for others not so much. However, rather than viewing this as an anomaly or unfair, simply view it from the perspective that people are making conscious decisions to contribute at their own level, and that’s ok.