Been There, Done That

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m a mom with three kids and the beginnings of a business. I’m
busier than a hive of bees with far less time. My husband has a high-
powered job that requires about a week of travel each month. We
have a big house, and the boys are old enough to be involved in
various after school activities. Read that as lots of shlepping. My
youngest is in a very socially progressive pre-school in which I have
been very involved. Read that to mean on the Board and also involved
in classroom and fundraising activities. For the past two years I
chaired the Basket Raffle, which is an annual dress-up silent auction
night where people bid on baskets with collections of donated prizes,
everything from massages to jewelry. It takes lots of work to
coordinate donations, allocation of prizes, and the event itself. But this
year I have a new business of my own to manage, a small online
multi-level marketing enterprise that is surprisingly successful, but
also takes time and attention. I feel like I have served my time as a
volunteer, but other Board members are trying to flatter me into a
yes, with variations on “You did such a great job!” and “We need
YOU!” I just want to work for myself.

Been There, Done That

Dear Done That:

Flattery is a very useful tool that inspires many people to do things
they might otherwise refuse to do. But those are people whose
opportunity costs (economics techno-speak for the value of the
foregone alternative) are much lower than yours. You can feel
committed to the project and even donate to it gracefully, without
having to serve a third term as chairperson.

Send the Board a polite email that says roughly this: Dear Fellow
Board Members: As you know I’ve chaired the Basket Raffle for the
past two tears. It’s a great fund-raiser that I support with my heart.
But my life has changed since my first “Yes, I’d be honored.” I simply
cannot do it again. What I can do and commit to doing, is to meet with
whoever agrees to chair the event and download everything I learned
the hard way about what makes it a success. I’ll donate gifts for five
baskets from my new business. And I’ll work the night of the event to
help get people bidding so we raise as much money as possible. But if
you cannot find someone other than me to chair the committee, we’re
going to have to figure out a different way to generate revenue for our
school. My bet is that someone else steps up. But if not, you can know
you did your part. No one person should have to shoulder the whole