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 Post subject: What is a "reasonable" travel distance?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:52 pm 
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So the phone rings or an e-mail pops up, and somebody you have never met wants you to travel and volunteer your time to help out a 501c3 nonprofit organization where you are not a member, and have never been a member. Maybe it is an activity like doing a program, holding a class, or inspecting a locomotive for them.

It should always be the volunteer’s decision whether they want to contribute their time and travel to help out a nonprofit, particularly where they are not a member, and it should never be necessary for them to defend their decisions in doing so.

But as a topic for discussion, what do you feel is a “reasonable” distance to travel to help out a “good” non-profit organization, one that is well regarded, if the expense to travel is coming out of your family budget?

At what point should the organization requesting the help be willing to provide some support for the travel expense?

Do any of your organizations actually have guidelines they use regarding these kind of requests for volunteers to assist?

PC

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 Post subject: Re: What is a "reasonable" travel distance?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:05 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 5:05 pm
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You are asking how high is up? "Reasonable" is in the eye of the beholder.


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 Post subject: Re: What is a "reasonable" travel distance?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:14 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:06 pm
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Location: Thomaston & White Plains
Speaking of "reasonable", any organization (non-profit or for-profit) that asks someone (especially someone not a member) to travel and put on a program/inspect a locomotive, etc. should be offering, right up front, to at least cover travel costs for the person they are asking the favor of. If that person then decides to "perform" at no cost to the organization, so be it, but simple courtesy and good manners would dictate the offer of covering the costs of travel (and lodging if necessary) be made.

Howard P.

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 Post subject: Re: What is a "reasonable" travel distance?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:19 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
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There are so many variables here that we're going to need calculus to solve this one...

Helping the organization out is your contribution to the organization. Two questions arise. 1) How much interest do you have in helping them meet their goal? 2) How much interest do they have in getting your assistance?

Are you providing a service they can't easily get from somebody else? For example, a certified welder may be more useful to an organization that somebody who's willing to help build their website. Both tasks are important, but you can find far more folks to help with the latter at the local high school.

From your point of view, is what they're doing worthwhile? Is your contribution going to be meaningful? Or would it be better to just send them a check for $50 and say "Keep up the good work chaps!"

From my point of view, if it required an overnight trip, and if they had specifically requested my services, I might ask for a hotel room and/or travel expenses?

Again, though, way too many variables. Is the task something you enjoy? Will it benefit you as well as the group? For example, will it further your research on the subject, or generate photos that you can use/sell?

Also, where you live will make a difference. My son lived in Montana for a few years, and they think nothing of driving 75 to 100 miles to go to dinner or shopping etc.


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 Post subject: Re: What is a "reasonable" travel distance?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:35 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:59 pm
Posts: 523
Depending on one's location relative to the museum, in a major metropolitan area like the San Francisco Bay Area, the question might better ask about travel time. My commute to the Western Railway Museum is about 45 miles, and when I do it on weekdays it is against the direction of commute traffic so the trip is about 45 minutes. However, if someone had to deal with commute traffic then that might be the important factor.

If one itemizes tax deductions, mileage and tolls are deductible if the organization is a nonprofit.


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 Post subject: Re: What is a "reasonable" travel distance?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:14 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 7:57 am
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Location: Faulkland, Delaware
Different people think of very differently. We have folks at the W&W that travel an 1-2 hours to travel to volunteer regularly. I know of people who travel the better part of a day and stay for 2-3 days 4-6 times per year to be part of a specific project. As someone who is now in an empty nest and off most of the summer, I would travel and for some long distance and stay for a number of days if it struck my fancy.

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 Post subject: Re: What is a "reasonable" travel distance?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 3:43 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
Posts: 1483
Location: Southern California
John T wrote:
You are asking how high is up? "Reasonable" is in the eye of the beholder.
tomgears wrote:
Different people think of [it] very differently.
I have had conversations with people and heard stories from other people about the perception of distance.

To some people just going across an average urban area is a major trip, for others it is something they'd do at the "drop of a hat." To this second group a "major" trip that requires advance planning is a road trip of multiple days and hundreds of miles.

It is perception. Perception that is based on the environment someone grows up in and lives in.

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Brian Norden


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 Post subject: Re: What is a "reasonable" travel distance?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 7:57 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
In my consulting business non-billable travel would be travel within the normal commuting zone of the metro area. It would be roughly equivalent to what used to be the local toll call zone. Outside of that region travel would be billable at time plus expenses.

In many cases I had a contractual travel credit for some number of hours of consulting.

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 Post subject: Re: What is a "reasonable" travel distance?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:53 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 11:07 am
Posts: 521
PCook wrote:
So the phone rings or an e-mail pops up, and somebody you have never met wants you to travel and volunteer your time to help out a 501c3 nonprofit organization where you are not a member, and have never been a member. Maybe it is an activity like doing a program, holding a class, or inspecting a locomotive for them.

It should always be the volunteer’s decision whether they want to contribute their time and travel to help out a nonprofit, particularly where they are not a member, and it should never be necessary for them to defend their decisions in doing so.

But as a topic for discussion, what do you feel is a “reasonable” distance to travel to help out a “good” non-profit organization, one that is well regarded, if the expense to travel is coming out of your family budget?

At what point should the organization requesting the help be willing to provide some support for the travel expense?

Do any of your organizations actually have guidelines they use regarding these kind of requests for volunteers to assist?

PC


Regardless of membership, travel expenses to do volunteer work for a 501c3 tax exempt organization are tax deductible.

Bob H


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 Post subject: Re: What is a "reasonable" travel distance?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:20 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:52 pm
Posts: 909
Hi,

Quote:
It is perception. Perception that is based on the environment someone grows up in and lives in.


Excellent quote.

I would also add that how important is preforming the task in question to the volunteer's self worth or self image or feeling good.

One answer is available from the Friends of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic. Some come from overseas to help rebuild and/or maintain the C&TS collections for a week at a time. They have the resources and/or money to spare and want to go.

Others do not have the resources. so they can only drive within 5 miles.

FWIW

Doug vV

Is the plural of calculus calculii?


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 Post subject: Re: What is a "reasonable" travel distance?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 1:50 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:28 am
Posts: 2438
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
PCook wrote:
So the phone rings or an e-mail pops up, and somebody you have never met wants you to travel and volunteer your time to help out a 501c3 nonprofit organization where you are not a member, and have never been a member. Maybe it is an activity like doing a program, holding a class, or inspecting a locomotive for them.

It should always be the volunteer’s decision whether they want to contribute their time and travel to help out a nonprofit, particularly where they are not a member, and it should never be necessary for them to defend their decisions in doing so.

But as a topic for discussion, what do you feel is a “reasonable” distance to travel to help out a “good” non-profit organization, one that is well regarded, if the expense to travel is coming out of your family budget?

At what point should the organization requesting the help be willing to provide some support for the travel expense?

Do any of your organizations actually have guidelines they use regarding these kind of requests for volunteers to assist?

PC


If you keep track of your volunteer driving, it pays dividends on your tax returns.

At the end of the day, it is a subjective decision of the volunteer as to whether it is "worth" their time. When I lived in St. Louis, I used to regularly make the 626 mile round trip to IRM multiple times a year for a weekend of work. One volunteer at IRM visits regularly to work. He is from the Columbus, Ohio area and drives by another railroad museum to come to IRM. One is worth his time, and the other isn't in his mind.

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 Post subject: Re: What is a "reasonable" travel distance?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 7:49 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:05 pm
Posts: 114
John T wrote:
You are asking how high is up? "Reasonable" is in the eye of the beholder.

Exactly - your time, your life. Only you can make that decision. We have volunteers at Campo coming from all over greater LA and east of Tucson!

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Pacific Southwest Railway Museum
Campo, CA (San Diego County)


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 Post subject: Re: What is a "reasonable" travel distance?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:19 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 7:16 am
Posts: 1379
This topic that I posted developed out of a request that an organization made for a non-member to travel 2400 miles at the volunteers own expense to help them with an event. That seems excessive and I decided to post the question here to see what our friends on RYPN think is a reasonable request.

I also ran the question by several accomplished authors in other fields, including marine and steamship history, aviation history, and writing for general interest magazines. Their responses were quite interesting.

Most of them agreed very closely with the posting made by Howard Pincus. The consensus was that any organization that approaches anyone (and particularly a non-member) asking for help that involves travel expenses, should have enough class to offer right up front to pay the cost of travel. The person being asked to travel on their behalf should not have to ask whether any of the expense will be supported by the group. Whether the individual then elects to accept or not accept the offer of the travel expense is up to that person. And there should not be any criticism or blowback in situations requiring travel, if the person being asked elects not to participate.

Two people I asked did have established radiuses within which they do "free" travel for a reputable non-profit where they are not a member. Their limits were both 60 miles one way, 120 miles round trip.

I would suggest that anyone who gets an unsolicited request for long distance travel from an organization where they are not a member should do an internet search for that organization’s IRS 990 forms. If the forms show that they are paying their own people travel expense every time they put the key in the ignition, but they are not offering it to people they ask for favors that involve long distance travel, it is entirely appropriate to question what is going on.

PC

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 Post subject: Re: What is a "reasonable" travel distance?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 4:25 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 11:07 am
Posts: 521
PCook wrote:


I would suggest that anyone who gets an unsolicited request for long distance travel from an organization where they are not a member should do an internet search for that organization’s IRS 990 forms. If the forms show that they are paying their own people travel expense every time they put the key in the ignition, but they are not offering it to people they ask for favors that involve long distance travel, it is entirely appropriate to question what is going on.

PC


Not a bad idea *except* the 990 only tells you how much was spent on travel, not who went where or why.

Bob H


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 Post subject: Re: What is a "reasonable" travel distance?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 4:32 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8354
Location: Baltimore, MD
I've done 2400 miles one-way to give a show for an NRHS Chapter. Twice.

Disclaimer: The in-laws were 50 miles down the highway and they moved the meeting/program to when I was in town; it's a part of the country where people drive 50 miles to work at times; and I got a full shop tour of the railway in town the second time.


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