Do you give freely of your time and/or expertise to help others?
You may not think that helping another, especially at work, is volunteering with a capital V, but the Oxford Dictionary disagrees, citing a Volunteer as “A person who freely offers oneself or one’s services for an undertaking, task or purpose”.
Note: the emphasis is on ‘freely offers’ – which generates an entirely different energy to the sense of reluctance, which often occurs when being ‘volun-told’.
Therefore, whether it’s at work, play or even in both, most of us volunteer in some capacity – even if we don’t think of ourselves that way. Perhaps if we did, volunteering would become more mainstream; less thought of as only applicable to the ‘do-gooders’ with time on their hands.
After 25 years of volunteering in various Not for Profit organisations (part of the DNA my parents gifted me), I am yet to meet many volunteers who have time on their hands. It’s far more likely to be the opposite. So why would you do it?
- be looking for something meaningful to do;
- want to feel part of your community (especially if you are new to it);
- feel strongly about supporting a particular cause;
- want to utilise your skills where needed or even upskill;
- have a desire to ‘give back’ and have the resources available to do so;
- want to remind yourself that ‘There, but for the grace of God, go I’;
- see a gap or need and feel moved to fill it;
- want to be part of a collective group working towards a useful outcome;
- choose to ‘Pay it Forward’ because you or a Beloved has been helped;
- want to know that you are really making a difference;
- have a passion you wish to pursue, in a different way;
- need a reason to get up and at ‘em, during times of transition;
- want to stop saying ‘someone should…’ and be the ‘someone who is…’
In my experience the impetus to volunteer differs based on the stage of life you are at and the specific challenges or opportunities that stage presents. However regardless of your reason for doing so, when volunteering, you become part of an intricate, interconnected beehive-like ecosystem – with everyone purposefully working towards a common goal. And just like busy bees, the collective output is invariably sweet.
The rewards gained from volunteering also differ, depending on the motivation for doing so in the first place. At various stages in my life I have been grateful to:
- experience immense satisfaction in being part of a team who are making a difference in our communities;
- make new friends and networks;
- enjoy female interaction (when working in the (then) male dominated transport industry);
- use the skills that I have been fortunate to accumulate, for the benefit of organisations that would ordinarily not be able to afford them;
- learn more skills;
- gain a sense of belonging (in a new location); and always,
- grow my confidence in enabling others who may not have had as many opportunities in their life as I have – yet!
If you are even vaguely considering volunteering, please know that globally, our communities have a huge, ever-increasing, insatiable need.
While there are the more visible organisations – such as schools, sport teams, community centres and Churches – which garner communities by virtue of their existence, there are also literally hundreds and hundreds of organisations that provide services to parts of our communities that we may never know about, unless we, or our Beloveds, have a need to access them.
Without a doubt, Volunteers are the backbone of these organisations, especially if they are the fundraisers (because there’s always a shortage of money required to keep our community groups financially viable) and/or the service providers (e.g. the counselors, the coaches, the co-ordinators, the cooks!).
Of course Volunteers need Supporters – the generous people who reach into their pockets, more often than not, to enable our services to reach those who need them. If you’re a Supporter, thank you. Thank you. And thank you again.
Will you help share the love, spread the load and volunteer in your community? If you’d like to know more about where or how to start, please get in touch.