Claire P. Baker 2017 Q&A: Volunteer Positions

[Note: Candidates were limited to 300 words for each answer.]

What are your thoughts on the OTW accepting volunteers who are under the age of 18, even if they might be over the age of legal majority in their country of origin?

As stated in the Volunteering FAQ, the OTW does accept applicants as young as 13 for many positions. Often it’s more a case of whether or not the person in question has the right skills to fit in with a committee. This can put younger candidates at a disadvantage just because they’ve had less time to develop the right skillsets; I know I’ve turned down candidates before whom I’d love to see hone their craft for another year or two and then reapply! That said, I would certainly not turn down a great candidate due to their age, and would encourage anyone interested to keep an eye on our Volunteer page for a position that meets their skills.

Some positions do require applicants to be adults, due to the nature of the content involved in the work. Many of these positions state “the age of majority in your country” or similar, rather than a specific age threshold. While this is somewhat limiting, I hope that younger potential applicants will consider the less age-restricted options. They are always welcome to apply to other committees when they’re ready!

Assuming Legal okayed it, should non-paying volunteers who’ve been with the OTW for over X months be eligible either for voting in the elections and/or being elected for board?

To quote the OTW’s FAQ, “We intend to keep our minimum donation low in order to ensure that it is not a barrier to entry for anyone who cares about the organization….” While $10 USD should be affordable to many potential members, there may be some for whom the amount is prohibitive. If we can prove that it is a barrier and could cause financial hardship, I believe there could be cause for reexamining the required minimum amount. That said, American tax law doesn’t allow for us to award membership in exchange for volunteer hours, and our need to prove each member to be a unique individual makes gift memberships difficult to pursue. Thus, we will need a donation to secure membership for the foreseeable future.

Volunteers certainly deserve to have their voice heard regardless of membership status. I hope that the Board takes ample opportunities to meet with all volunteers so that concerns can be addressed, ideas can be considered, and everyone can feel like they’ve been listened to. If elected, I look forward to leading some of these conversations myself.