Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: EMuir on March 19, 2013, 03:07:10 PM

Title: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: EMuir on March 19, 2013, 03:07:10 PM
I was recently asked to produce a poster for a charity event.  I've been involved with this charity for years and have done quite a few posters. The staff member in charge said my poster was good, but then didn't send it out.  Now she's sent out a different poster done by someone else.  I have to admit that it's a better poster.  But now I'm embarrassed and hurt that my poster wasn't good enough.  I don't want to go to any further meetings regarding this event, although I will still offer to contribute what I can.   How can I communicate this without acting like a drama queen?  Should this have been handled differently? Or should I suck it up and act like nothing's wrong? 
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: LazyDaisy on March 19, 2013, 03:25:28 PM
It sounds like you weren't told that there were other posters solicited and they were going to choose only one to use -- like a contest. That is a fail on their part and should have been handled differently.

But you should continue like nothing's wrong. It wasn't a personal slight against you. I've been a graphic designer for 15 years. Clients somehow almost never choose the design I like best or am most proud of. They have their own likes/dislikes and agenda. In a creative profession such as graphic designer, or singer, actor, painter... you have to grow a thicker skin. You shouldn't be embarrassed, though. Taste is subjective so "better" is only in the eye of the beholder not an absolute.
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: WillyNilly on March 19, 2013, 03:32:50 PM
I think you need to do, privately, whatever works best for you in getting over a hurt. And then move on. there's nothing you can say without coming across like a sore loser. Even you admit the other poster was better. It happens. It doesn't mean your poster wasn't good, or that in the future or in the past yours wasn't the better one. Just this one time, someone else was better. Such is life.
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: MamaMootz on March 19, 2013, 03:44:53 PM
I don't see what would be wrong with going to the person who selected the other poster and saying, "I couldn't help but noticed you decided to use Other Poster. could you give me a heads-up next time?"

You don't have to go into good/bad/indifferent, but at least you wouldn't be blindsided.
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: lilfox on March 19, 2013, 03:55:18 PM
Ouch, that's an unpleasant feeling, particularly since you weren't told your poster wasn't used after all.  But it sounds like the issue isn't that your work wasn't up to par, but that the other poster was considered more 'fitting' this particular time.  If yours were the chosen posters in the past, consider this a blip.

I don't blame you for cooling on this event since their ability to communicate leaves something to be desired.  If you do want to say something, I think the most I would recommend is that you are open to critiques in the future, if what you submitted wasn't quite what they were looking for.  And that you would appreciate any feedback on the selection process (i.e. "by the way yours is one of five options we solicited and we will let you know as of X date" or "thanks for your submission but this year we decided to go a different direction") so you're not caught off-guard.  But keep it positive and as light as you can.  I would not directly mention not wanting to attend the meetings ahead of time; you can always happen to be busy at the meeting times but available otherwise if that suits you best.
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: Hmmmmm on March 19, 2013, 04:57:55 PM
May I ask how you would have liked it handled? Would you have preferred she call and say "Thanks for the poster. It it wasn't exactly what we needed and will be using some one else's." or maybe a small white lie of "Your poster was awesome but Nell submitted one too and we felt we had to use hers. I hope you don't mind."

But either way, I'd just ignore and go on as if nothing happened.
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: Onyx_TKD on March 19, 2013, 07:53:52 PM
I was recently asked to produce a poster for a charity event.  I've been involved with this charity for years and have done quite a few posters. The staff member in charge said my poster was good, but then didn't send it out.  Now she's sent out a different poster done by someone else.  I have to admit that it's a better poster.  But now I'm embarrassed and hurt that my poster wasn't good enough.  I don't want to go to any further meetings regarding this event, although I will still offer to contribute what I can.   How can I communicate this without acting like a drama queen?  Should this have been handled differently? Or should I suck it up and act like nothing's wrong?

IMO, you should have been informed up front that they were seeking out multiple options and only planning to use one. If they'd solicited entries for the poster, stating up front that only one to be chosen/used, then I'm guessing you wouldn't be hurt and embarrassed. Disappointed perhaps, but not embarrassed that a better poster won the contest. OTOH, you might also have decided you weren't interested in competing and not spent your time working on a poster--you should have been given enough information that you could make that decision. In this case, it sounds like it wasn't presented as a contest at all. Someone apparently sought you out and asked you to put time and effort into designing something for them. Then they didn't even use it. Making the volunteers feel like their time and effort were wasted seems like a good way to have fewer volunteers in the future.  :(

Unfortunately, I'm not really sure how you could communicate this without it sounding like sour grapes that your poster wasn't chosen. However, if you continue with the organization, I'd suggest asking more questions next time they ask you to do something so you can make an informed decision about whether you want to participate.
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: TootsNYC on March 19, 2013, 08:04:36 PM
They may not have solicited other posters until after the OP's was done and handed in.

Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: LifeOnPluto on March 19, 2013, 09:16:13 PM
They may not have solicited other posters until after the OP's was done and handed in.

This was my thought too. But I still think they should have ideally given the OP a chance to "fix" her poster if they felt it didn't meet their specifications / standards, before bringing in a new person.
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: EMuir on March 19, 2013, 11:28:40 PM
I think a staff member made the other poster.  I am just puzzled because I asked for feedback on the poster I submitted and they said it was good.  It wasn't a contest, I have done a lot of posters in the past for them.  It's not like I'm soured on the whole organization.

I appreciate everyone's kind words.  I know that if someone makes a better poster it's a good thing, or maybe even just a different poster that they feel fit the event better this year.  I just wish they had made up something to tell me, like "Oh, this other person spent days on this design and we really like it, and although we really appreciate your hard work, we want to go with this other poster this time."

 
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: Danika on March 20, 2013, 12:50:42 AM
In your shoes, I think I would also be annoyed by the time I spent on my poster. For whatever reason, they didn't choose yours, but you made it while you were under the impression that the time you were spending was going to bear fruit. After all that thought and effort, you weren't rewarded (or thanked?). I'd write to the person who requested that you create the poster and I'd say something like

"While I understand that mine might not have accomplished the goal you were looking for and so you chose to go with something else, what I don't appreciate is that I spent a lot of time putting forth effort and then without warning, my work was not used. It doesn't encourage me to continue to volunteer making posters because I feel like after a lot of time and effort, my next work might not be used either. In the future please X, Y, Z" and explain that you would have liked a private message warning you that your work would not be used or whatever you would like in the future.

I feel like they should have indicated that they appreciated your time and effort, and they should have warned you that they weren't going to use your work, even if they don't want to tell you the reason why not.
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: bopper on March 20, 2013, 08:15:13 AM
May I ask how you would have liked it handled? Would you have preferred she call and say "Thanks for the poster. It it wasn't exactly what we needed and will be using some one else's." or maybe a small white lie of "Your poster was awesome but Nell submitted one too and we felt we had to use hers. I hope you don't mind."

But either way, I'd just ignore and go on as if nothing happened.

I was thinking the same thing...what if the event coordinator came to ehell and said "We asked a volunteer for a poster which she has done in the past, but gosh, this one wasn't that great.  How do I deal with it?"
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: Zilla on March 20, 2013, 08:59:54 AM

  It wasn't a contest, I have done a lot of posters in the past for them.  It's not like I'm soured on the whole organization.
Quote
But now I'm embarrassed and hurt that my poster wasn't good enough.  I don't want to go to any further meetings regarding this event, although I will still offer to contribute what I can.

Did you want to pull out volunteering altogether but only contribute monetarily or just not volunteer your time for this specific event?  Not sure which result you want.

If you just rather not donate time to the event itself but continue donating time with other aspects of this organization, I would suck it up and just be forewarned for next time.  If you want to pull out altogether, then I would just send an email saying, "Some things came up and I am unable to volunteer at this time.  Please withdraw my name from the mailing list.  Thank you."  And leave it at that. 
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: White Lotus on March 21, 2013, 09:04:54 AM
I wouldn't say anything.  I would walk away, as Zilla proposed, but with even less explanation.  If I was attached to the cause I would find another charity in the same area, and work for it.
This was handled so poorly from the get-go, and you were treated so dismissively, OP, I have serious doubts about this outfit's ability to handle money -- as well as their beneficiaries.
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: Girly on March 21, 2013, 10:08:01 AM
I waited a day to respond thinking maybe my suggestion would change, but it really didn't.

I would try to not be so upset about it. The charity needs to use the material that most suits them, and will solicit the most donations/volunteers/whatever they are trying to do. The only way I would be embarrassed is if someone came to me and said something about my poster not cutting it... and that's assuming someone there has less than no tact.

If you feel you must say something to someone, maybe if/when volunteering for another project to ask some specific questions about what they are looking for on the poster/flyer/etc and give them more than one (if you have the time!) to choose from.

Volunteering for a charity should not make you feel bad about yourself, and I'm sorry for you that it has. It really sounds more like a bruised ego than anything else, and maybe next time if you choose to help out in the same way, you will have better results. Good Luck!
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: BuffaloFang on March 21, 2013, 02:00:18 PM
But you should continue like nothing's wrong. It wasn't a personal slight against you. I've been a graphic designer for 15 years. Clients somehow almost never choose the design I like best or am most proud of. They have their own likes/dislikes and agenda. In a creative profession such as graphic designer, or singer, actor, painter... you have to grow a thicker skin. You shouldn't be embarrassed, though. Taste is subjective so "better" is only in the eye of the beholder not an absolute.

I agree with this.  I've had my work "redone" by other people before, and it doesn't feel good.  Sometimes what you envision just isn't what your clients want at all, and it's almost always a failing of the client to communicate what they're looking for.  Maybe someone closer to the actual event (and with an inside understanding on the feel of the event) did the other design.

Also, I agree that 7 times out of 10 clients tend to choose the design I like the least out of all of the options I've given them.  There's a bit of a gap between what looks awesome and what suits their needs (ie, "I have these 30 callouts I need to incorporate!!  They're all important!!!". So don't take it personally.
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: Lynn2000 on March 21, 2013, 03:19:28 PM
I can see how this would be hurtful and discouraging. I would be curious about the backstory behind the decision; but I might have to acknowledge that I wasn't really in a position to know/ask how that decision was made. I would probably just "lay low" for a while, participating less than usual due to being "busy with other things" or whatever.

Then if the situation came up again I would be sure to ask for clarification: "I would be happy to make a poster for the organization; however, last time I was asked to make one, it ended up not being used. I'm not sure why, as I never received any feedback about it. I would really like to make a poster that suits the organization's needs, so I would appreciate being given a chance to revise my design if the first version isn't suitable. Or at least, I would like to be told in advance that it won't be used."

Then if you end up working on another poster that doesn't get used and you feel like you're wasting your time, you know what to say if they ask again--sorry, too busy.
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: Starchasm on March 21, 2013, 08:57:29 PM
I can see how this would be hurtful and discouraging. I would be curious about the backstory behind the decision; but I might have to acknowledge that I wasn't really in a position to know/ask how that decision was made. I would probably just "lay low" for a while, participating less than usual due to being "busy with other things" or whatever.

Then if the situation came up again I would be sure to ask for clarification: "I would be happy to make a poster for the organization; however, last time I was asked to make one, it ended up not being used. I'm not sure why, as I never received any feedback about it. I would really like to make a poster that suits the organization's needs, so I would appreciate being given a chance to revise my design if the first version isn't suitable. Or at least, I would like to be told in advance that it won't be used."

Then if you end up working on another poster that doesn't get used and you feel like you're wasting your time, you know what to say if they ask again--sorry, too busy.

This is exactly what I was thinking.  I do a LOT of volunteer work and get tapped to do promotional materials pretty often and I would be pretty irritated if I took time out of my schedule to make something and then it wasn't used and no one told me about it.  That's pretty dismissive, not only of your product but of your time. 

I really like Lynn2000's wording on what to say to them. 
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: gollymolly2 on March 21, 2013, 09:30:02 PM
I wouldn't say anything.  I would walk away, as Zilla proposed, but with even less explanation.  If I was attached to the cause I would find another charity in the same area, and work for it.
This was handled so poorly from the get-go, and you were treated so dismissively, OP, I have serious doubts about this outfit's ability to handle money -- as well as their beneficiaries.

What about this suggests they are bad with money or their beneficiaries?
Title: Re: My volunteer work sucked... how to deal
Post by: baglady on March 21, 2013, 10:13:57 PM
I wouldn't say anything.  I would walk away, as Zilla proposed, but with even less explanation.  If I was attached to the cause I would find another charity in the same area, and work for it.
This was handled so poorly from the get-go, and you were treated so dismissively, OP, I have serious doubts about this outfit's ability to handle money -- as well as their beneficiaries.

What about this suggests they are bad with money or their beneficiaries?

Yes, I'd be careful of making that leap. Whether it was a mistake, a miscommunication, or maybe a political thing (maybe the group's biggest donor saw rival's poster design and fell madly in love with it), that doesn't necessarily mean the organization is a mismanaged mess. Believe me, I'm involved with organizations that run like clockwork but have alienated many volunteers, and others that are seat-of-the-pants run but treat their volunteers like gold.

It was actually an organization in the latter category in which I got into a situation similar to the OP's. They were putting on an event and were looking for a clever name for it. I came up with one, and when it was passed on to Woman in Charge, she loved it. I think she even said something like, "We have a winner!" When the event was officially announced, it had a different name.

I was hurt, but I figured one of two things had happened: She'd forgotten my idea, or she'd thought it was a joke (it was kind of out there). I may yet walk away from that organization, but for reasons totally unrelated to that incident.