*refers to voluntary work for social causes only
What does volunteering mean to you? Take a minute and think about it. Think carefully though, and most importantly, be honest to yourself. It’s okay if the answer is as cliché as ‘It makes me happy’ or is motivated professionally. There’s seldom a right or wrong answer here, because most NG/POs don’t give a shit as long as you fulfil your commitment with them. No, the answer does not matter to them. But it does to you and to the community you have pledged to serve simply because (you’ve probably heard this before) things are not going to get any better unless you do something about it.
It’s all about ownership. Every business model is based on a ‘problem’ and how the business intends to provide solutions to it. And that’s why we have so many successful businesses- because they are able to identify and take ownership of problems that we sometimes didn’t know existed like how easy it can be to get food home delivered, how telecom services can reach close to 2 million subscribers, how innovation can make people stand in line for hours waiting for your product.
Here’s what I find astounding about voluntary work- the problem can slap us in the face but most of us won’t take ownership of it because we think there is no material compensation (read: money) involved. You’d be surprised at the number of people who have zero idea of the sea of social issues and crises outside their countries or even their cities when the information is available at the tap of a key. And that is just a little bit too ridiculous for anybody’s palate.
It is important to volunteer- because the world’s problems aren’t going to solve themselves on their own. Every revolution history has seen took place because everyday people took a stand for something. Today, we have Governments and development agencies wrapped in bureaucracy while they try to fix what’s wrong, and all the while the news channel is churning out problem after problem at us. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that these guys don’t do any good. But it’s only a matter of time before resources max out, and by resources I don’t just mean funding.
So take a minute, and think about it. What does volunteering mean to you. And more importantly, what do you want your stamp on the world to look like. The answer isn’t very easy to find, and is harder to act on. But you’ll only need to take a few steps ahead before you realise how many more you can take in the right direction, and what you can achieve with them.