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Published:
2018-04-28 11:17:20 -0400
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with Rachel Bussert, who volunteers as a staffer in our Volunteers & Recruitment Committee.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

The mission of any organization is driven by the people who dedicate their time and resources to it. Volunteers & Recruiting (VolCom) is very central to that for OTW. Throughout the year, we handle recruitment for all the positions needed, which readers may see regularly in our announcement posts. Below is a chart of OTW’s volunteer numbers over time. As you can see, the number of folks involved in the organization have increased over time to accommodate the work of each committee, and Volunteers & Recruiting is the first step in making sure those staffing needs are being met.

Our work doesn’t stop with recruitment. Volunteers & Recruiting keeps track of the service of each volunteer in the organization, such as the number of years they've been with us and which roles they've held. We coordinate all of the account permissions and tool access that people need to do their work and interact with other volunteers. We also process the turnover as people depart the OTW or as they move into different positions. We report all these changes each month in the OTW newsletter.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

There tends to be an ebb and flow of work throughout the year, so there’s not necessarily a single answer to that. A given week might include any or all of the following:

  • Discussing committee needs for personnel with their chairs and reviewing role requirements
  • Processing applications for various recruitment campaigns
  • Induction or retirement of volunteers
  • Updating information on volunteers going on or coming off of hiatus
  • Editing tools and resources when a volunteer’s name or email changes
  • Updating organization wide tools and training
  • Work on various internal projects

Did anything take you by surprise when you began volunteering for the OTW or your committee?

Two things, though I think both of them speak more to OTW as an organization rather than just VolCom. The first thing was how well organized everything is overall. Most of the non-profits I’ve had experience partnering with tend to be a little bit haphazard for a variety of reasons, so I was pleasantly surprised by how clear onboarding and training was, and how much effort various committees put into working together for a common goal.

The other thing was just the sheer enthusiasm there is all the way around. Every time we recruit for a role, I’m floored by how many people apply because they want to get involved. That’s not to mention within the organization. There are a lot of really amazing people who put their heart and soul into this.

What's the most rewarding thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?

Fandom has given me so much. I was kind of a lonely kid, and getting into writing fanfiction was the first time I really found people who felt like my people. A couple of my closest friends are folks I met because they commented on my writing, or because we happened to be in the same fandom chat, and so fandom in general is really special to me. I also gravitate pretty strongly towards non-profits in general, so OTW is just this really natural fit.

I think what is most rewarding for me is that with VolCom, I’ve had the opportunity to take some of the skills I’ve developed in my day job, and turn them towards supporting a cause I have so much love for.

What fannish things do you like to do?

All of them? In all seriousness though, I have a lot of fannish interests. In terms of content creation, I write a lot. I’ve been teaching myself art via photomanipulation as well and having a great time with it. I’m mostly in the Captain America fandom these days, but I dip back into Doctor Who and Fullmetal Alchemist now and again. I also cosplay competitively sometimes and get really absurdly excited about documentation and screen accuracy.

I’m pretty serious about giving back to the community that’s given so much to me, so I also tend to get really involved behind the scenes. In addition to OTW, I am on the team that runs two of the writing/art events in my current fandom, I run one of my city’s cosplay meetup groups, and I’m the co-chair for the cosplay masquerade at a local convention.


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.