Volunteer Responsibility Amnesty Day

December 21, 2024
You can put down your burdens.

Have you taken on too much?

Lots of important things depend on volunteer labor - local civic groups, open source software projects, and more.

But maybe you are getting exhausted, burned out, from trying to volunteer too much.

As the sunlight in your life
reaches its high or low extreme,
it is a good time to ask yourself
if you've gone as far as you can,
and need to pull back.

Volunteer Responsibility Amnesty Day is about checking with yourself, and ending the commitments you need to end – maybe by taking a break, or by rotating it on to someone else, or by sunsetting a project.

Every solstice, take inventory of your volunteer responsibilities.

The next solstice is December 21, 2024. The one after that is June 21, 2025. Add reminders to your calendar.


Take inventory. Take twenty minutes -- maybe with a friend -- and create a responsibility inventory. Go through your accounts and look through your calendar, emails and tabs, so you can make a list templated like:

  • current responsibility [rough summary, 1 sentence]
  • want to keep doing this? [yes, no, or "just this subset"]
  • next step [such as "delegate to PERSON", "mark as NO MAINTENANCE INTENDED and archive", or "keep going!"]

Once you've decided to end a commitment, say so publicly. Feel free to point to this page as a way of saying: I need to put a few things down. I hope other people pick them up and carry this work forward. But even if no one does, I need to stop, or at least pause for a while.

Ask your friend to nudge you every couple of weeks about those next steps.

Resources and inspirations

If you're having trouble letting go, read Camille Acey's six short lists of reasons, reactions, and more, and Christie Koehler's set of 9 "questions I ask myself to help navigate the process of identifying whether or not it’s time to let go of a project". If you're worried that you're being selfish, consider this counterpoint by Mary Gardiner.

Inspired by "What Would Open Source Look Like If It Were Healthy?" and NO MAINTENANCE INTENDED.