Dear Annie: I recently attended a volunteer appreciation lunch for my local Meals on Wheels. This is a great organization, and once a year they invite the volunteers to lunch. We buy raffle tickets, and there are generous door prizes given.
This year, several members of our city council were invited. I was shocked when several of them won raffle prizes. One council member had his name called three times. I realize anyone can buy a raffle ticket, but this luncheon was for those of us who donate our time and money to deliver meals to those in need. I think they should have returned their prizes to be awarded to a volunteer. Most of my co-volunteers agree with me. What do you think? – Shocked Volunteer
Dear Volunteer: We agree that giving the prizes to people other than volunteers was tacky, but we assume the organization was trying to raise money through the sale of raffle tickets, in which case, whoever bought them can win, and what they choose to do with those prizes is up to them. Yes, it would have been gracious to donate the gifts back to the organization (or to the volunteers), but they are not obligated to do so. The problem is, this sort of thing leaves a sour taste for the others and can have a negative impact on future volunteer work. Please talk to the organizers of the event and let them know how poorly this went over.