How to resign from a voluntary position?
January 17, 2013 12:54 PM   Subscribe

I have a voluntary position with the union I'm a member of, which involves a lot of extra work, which has been fine up until now. Recently, the job role has changed, with people in my position being encouraged to take on additional duties. There have also been other changes that I'm not happy with. How do I go about resigning my position without causing bad feeling, especially as I will likely need the services of the organisation in the future?

The job role as explained was A. It's now A + extra duties, with more duties being added in the foreseeable future. I can certainly see the necessity of the changes, but I don't wish to engage in or be involved in these extra duties. Given that this is the case, I feel it's appropriate to resign from the position.

I'm looking for a template that I can use as a resignation letter that will cause the least amount of fuss, given that I will likely be needing help from said union in the future. Normally I'd use the standard "I resign from {position} on {date}" format, but that seems a little terse. I'd like something that leaves the doors of communication more open than that example would.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total)
I agree the simpler the better, however a small prevarication might be in order here.

Dear Union President,

I deeply regret that I must resign as Shop Steward for the foreseeable future due to pressing family issues. I have appreciated this opportunity to work with and for my union brothers and sisters and hope that I might be able to do so again in the near future.

In Solidarity,


That ought to take care of it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:05 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Dear whoever, I am writing to inform you that I will be resigning from my position as XXX from Whenevary xxth 2013.

I have been happy to see the increased scope of activity taken by [organisation] and regard this a very much in line with the ongoing needs of the members. Unfortunately I do not feel able to meet the increased requirements on my time that this expanded position requires and feel the position and the members will be better served by someone who is able to make a fuller commitment. I remain committed to the [organisation] and its goals.

sincerely/humble servant/laters
posted by biffa at 1:09 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

what biffa said. Say nothing about how you don't quite agree with some of the changes, and don't prevaricate. Just say that you do not feel as though you have the time and energy to serve as A anymore.

Groups which rely on volunteers to fill positions are (or should be!) used to people resigning for no reason other than "I don't want to do this anymore".
posted by jlkr at 1:38 PM on January 17, 2013

I was once an officer of my union local; when I had to resign, I went with the same short 'n' sweet sort of letter you'd do for a paid job:

Dear [union president's name]:
Please accept my resignation from the postion of [whatever it is], effective [date].

Just like any other kind of resignation, it's best to keep it completely polite and very simple: details are not necessary.
posted by easily confused at 2:09 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I also support biffa's approach. First off, unions are used to people having to end their volunteering for all kinds of reasons, so this isn't unusual. Secondly, however, it's good to let them know that what they are asking might be too onerous for a single volunteer. I'm a union member and a staff person of a (obviously different) union. When I resigned as department steward a couple years ago, I just approached the local VP and told her I was finding the extra responsibility too stressful, but was willing to help out in other ways. She was totally fine with it.

As for the union representing you in the future, after your resignation, they are required to represent you fairly by law. This is about the duty of fair representation in Ontario, which may not be your jurisdiction, but there is likely something similar where you are.
posted by looli at 2:18 PM on January 17, 2013

I am a union president and yes, people resign all the time. But we aren't a workplace, it is supposed to be a collaborative and equal relationship. I appreciate it when the people who resign (with a formal letter, as above) have FIRST had a conversation with me, to see if there is anything I can do to support them in their role. I have had a couple of resignations where basically someone made a bunch of assumptions, or heard rumours, and lept to the conclusion that resigning out of the blue was the best option. That also makes me question their judgement if they ask later to be in a role of having to work collaboratively with members or the employer. If they can't even have an honest conversation with me where solutions to challenges in their current role can't be discussed, I would wonder how effective they would be - if future conversations would similarly be mostly occurring in their head (with unspoken assumptions about the other "side"). If you are planning to be in the union a long time, keep in mind that if another opportunity to participate comes up you are interested in, the Union executive/membership may be reluctant to elect/appoint someone who suddenly resigned over role challenges they had not brought up. Clearly if this is something you have tried to resolve this would not apply - but I have seen too many members quit suddenly over non-existent problems/misunderstanding conversations without seeking clarification. If you are going to resign I prefer Biffa's letter to Ruthless Bunny's - I can tell when someone is blowing smoke up my ass and if I already know someone is unhappy with additional duties but resigns due to "family reasons" I would look askance at their ability to be honest. It is absolutely okay to be honest and say the voluntary duties are too much/too onerous/are isolating so that the Executive's expectations can be challenged and possibly changed for the next person.
posted by saucysault at 2:52 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

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