August 1 is the Siyum HaShas and I coordinated the purchasing process for my Shul and another local Shul. In total, close to 400 tickets were purchased through these efforts.
Here are some lessons learned:
These types of projects are usually more work than anticipated.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them, just that you should be aware of a potential time underestimation. (A good friend warned me about this at the start of the project).
I think most people do appreciate these efforts on their behalf, but only a few will actually express their appreciation.
That’s ok, your motivation to do these projects should be to help the community. If you’re looking for expressed appreciation, you’ll probably be disappointed.
Some people will give you a hard time.
If possible, try to deal with the complaint with a smile. With some, it might be necessary to be a little more assertive and remind them that your doing this as a favor for them.
Working with people from another Shul adds complications.
With your own Shul, you’ve probably built relationships and an emotional bank account over time, so there’s little friction in most cases. With another Shul, there’s usually less understanding and appreciation, and there might more issues if problems arise.
You will make mistakes.
If you make reasonable efforts to correct mistakes, the person affected will often appreciate that. Even if they don’t, you’ve done all you can.
Bigger communal organizations have a wide cast of people.
Most of the people you will deal with in larger communal organizations will be very cordial and helpful. Show your appreciation and minimize your focus on people who aren’t as cordial.
One thought on “Setting Reasonable Expectactions in Communal Projects”
Mark, thank you for talking about what people think, but never want to say at meetings.
The lack of appreciation for what volunteers do, in the case of next weeks Siyum is only seasoned with zechus that you and others, like the girl who took my payment info on the phone yesterday when I ordered my tickets for the Chicago event, will get.
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