I believe that we volunteer for our own gain AND to make things we believe in happen.
Our volunteering gives us a sense of purpose, camaraderie, and enjoyment. And we benefit by developing our skills, meeting new people and expanding our lives.
The best volunteering situations encourage volunteers to take on only what they can do in the time available ….. and they deliver. The organisation and the individual communicate openly and honestly and the individual can ask for help.
There are some people who take on voluntary roles for other motives, maybe because they want the status associated with the post or because they want to get a “toe in the door”. In my experience, volunteers like this do not fit in well. They don’t support the team as effectively as volunteers who are genuinely interested in what they are doing. And I’m sure they don’t derive the same satisfaction for themselves.
Volunteers are making a serious commitment to do a job – albeit an unpaid one, and should be treated as seriously and professionally as paid employees.
I agree with Matthew Taylor (RSA) in his “A Formula for Volunteering” that the word volunteer encompasses such a wide range from seriously responsible public roles to micro-volunteering that it is time that we developed a more helpful vocabulary. I would love to see a new word that recognises the professional nature of many volunteer posts and one that helps shake off the old, charitable “do goody” image. Please post any ideas.
This is my volunteering philosophy. Do you agree?