You may not be paid for your efforts, but once you accept a volunteer position you assume responsibilities (to be on time, to complete tasks you're assigned). You should, however, have certain rights.
The D.C. Clearinghouse's Bill of Rights for Volunteers:
* The right to be treated as a co-worker--not just free help.
* The right to a suitable assignment--with consideration for personal preference, temperament, life experience, education background and employment background.
* The right to know as much about the organization as possible--its policies, people and programs.
* The right to training for the job and continuing education on the job--including training for greater responsibility.
* The right to sound guidance and direction.
* The right to a place to work--an orderly, designated place that's conducive to work and worthy of the job to be done.
* The right to promotion and a variety of experiences--through advancement, or transfer or through special assignments.
* The right to be heard--to feel free to make suggestions, have a part in planning.
* The right to recognition--in the form of promotion and awards, through day-by-day expressions of appreciation and by bring treated as a bona fide co-worker.
"Many students are disappointed because the agency where they work is not as tightly organized as school or other businesses," says Noelle Vitt of Holton Arms School.
"They have to learn to roll with the punches. It doesn't do to grouse all the time because the organization doesn't live up to their full expectations. So long as they're doing a service, the project is worthwhile."