Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Volunteering Do's and Don'ts

[Thanksgiving Day]

Certain volunteering experiences leave me feeling high and totally buzzed, while others end up being frustrating at many levels. As a reminder to myself for the future, here are my do's and don'ts as they relate to volunteering efforts.

1. For any volunteering effort, the potential scope of impact is important. The bigger the scope, the more engaged I become. And if things are in the inception stage or just starting-up, then I feel more involved, as opposed to being "a cog in professionally run charity events." (This is a personal preference)

2. Make a distinction between a one evening or one day effort, and a bigger commitment. If it a one-time deal with small time commitments, I should definitely take it up. These usually lead to more doors getting opened (and the people typically present me with opportunities that are a better fit).

3. If it is a longer term commitment, I should think it through. Longer term volunteering only worked for me if it was something that really wanted to do anyway.
a. If it feels really easy, then that's a good sign that I will like it
b. If it is a cause that I feel is worth spending my time on, I have almost never regretted my time and efforts. (A good portion of voluntary activities involve mundane and non-skilled administrative tasks.)

4. I should remember to do a Time-Benefit analysis - preferably on paper, but at least in my mind. I have been a part of several 'charitable fund-raising' causes where the total number of corporate and personal hours spent were hugely disproportional to the money raised. I do understand the argument around awareness, team-building and "social engagement" but still these huge efforts leave me feeling somewhat deflated about the whole task. I end up feeling that as a group we are deluding ourselves in the name of doing good.

5. If the volunteering task demands a skill that I am reasonably qualified for it (and strangely, if it is very similar to the profession "work" that I am trained for) I have almost always come off with a positive experience.

The above are just a few notes for me to keep in mind before I sign up for anything.

But here's the most important lesson. When I find the right volunteering opportunity I will know it. It feels like being hit on the head with a 2 by 4. It is okay to wait until then.

1 comment:

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