It just feels that being a volunteer is not unlike working for a company, you get bullied, treated unfairly and the ethics are as shaky as in the corporate sector. Several years ago I witnessed the verbal bullying of an individual coming from an ethnic minority group who was volunteering his time as a fundraiser. I didn't dare to say anything then, I was young, a bit naive and needed their references to apply for a job (I was fresh out of university).
Even when this happened to myself at another charity I said nothing and left with good grace using an excuse. Why? Is it because I didn't want to harm an organisation that does good work? Later on I was bullied in my job and had to resign. I was working in a corporate environment and at least I was paid to take the crap, still I wish I did something rather than just resign and mention a personality clash in my exit interview.
But let's go back to volunteering, which is on the whole a really good thing to do as it helps a good cause, can provide you with new skills and open horizons. To be honest I had off-episodes in most charities I have volunteered, often from other volunteers. Lately I started to speak up when I don't agree rather than suffer in silence. I stay calm and say my piece, but I keep thinking of when I kept my mouth shut and regret it.
On balance, for mums like me, volunteering is doing something great while on maternity leave or a way to get involved in the local community (children's centre, school, etc). When I started working again, I kept volunteering because it's such an enriching experience. You might do it for having something on the CV rather than just maternity leave, better your community and possibly get a character reference if applying for a job. But what if you get the mean treatment or it's difficult to get a reference? It's quite shocking how non-profit organisations can be no better than a profit organisation despite their assurances that they nurture their volunteers.
Still, despite all the off episodes, I still want to be a volunteer. If I stopped something would be missing from my life!