Million dollar question… how do we as a society effectively engage more volunteers?
“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”
Diminishing volunteerism today could be attributed to many factors…
- Perhaps we are so over-connected digitally that it is pulling our focus in too many directions?
- Perhaps we are losing the ability and “know how” to engage in relationship through our constant and overuse of social media?
- Perhaps we are so over immersed in a fast-food type society that we all want things now, and on our own terms?
- Perhaps we are too self-focused that we fail to see the needs of others around us?
- Perhaps we are too busy and feel like we would be pulled into a volunteer vortex if we even gave an inch of our time and energy?
- Perhaps we do not fully understand the benefits?
- Perhaps we feel we don’t have anything to contribute or we are not good enough or smart enough to make a difference?
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
The single biggest reason that Canadians volunteer is to contribute to the community… and relationship is the cornerstone of Community.
According to a study done by volunteer Canada – Almost half of volunteers actively sought out their volunteer opportunities. The next most common way volunteers got involved was through simply being asked to volunteer. Interestingly, only 6% of Canadian volunteers got involved by responding to an online ad, and 8% to a poster or newspaper ad.
Common sense quip: We build relationship by talking with people – face to face. People will actively engage with another that they “Like, Believe and Trust”. Sometimes all somebody wants, is to be asked. To hear that they are needed and wanted – and to be listened to.
Did you know: According to Volunteer Canada – over half of all volunteer hours are given by 10% of volunteers. Most of these “super” volunteers volunteer on a daily or weekly basis, giving 372 hours or more annually.
The other aspect of this equation – especially when it comes to engaging parental support for school involvement is that there seems to be a prevailing attitude in our western culture, that, we pay our taxes, thus we deserve free and equal opportunities and education for our children. In other words… I have put in my dues and money thus should not be required to engage further.
Lets just take a quick interjected side note into the cultural mindset differences between us westerners and South Korea.
Parents in South Korea take on the role of “coach” in their children’s education – and they take it very seriously.
The average South Korean child spends 13 hours a day studying after supplemental class time is factored in, pining to get into the best universities – thus attaining the few top professional careers available later in life.
After the normal school day is finished, parents seek out, pay and participate in supplemental tutoring.
Now I’m not suggesting we increase school hours for our children but it does illustrate the point that parents of these South Korean children adopt the mindset that they are their kids’ coaches – rather than cheerleaders – partaking in a much more engaged role in their children’s education than us westerners. Dare I say… we’ve become a bit complacent and lazy.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
I suppose this is the epitome of uncommon sense – however, at the risk of sounding a tad “preachy” I’m going to let you in on a reality of life (note; I state this as much as a reminder to myself) – Those of us with children, have a moral and social obligation to engage in their education. That means actively participating, volunteering or contributing within the child’s school and community, so that our children have the best opportunities, education and experiences available!
“If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.”
— Kofi Annan
Note for parents: student volunteers develop life skills and become well-rounded individuals. Children learn how to interact and respond to people in the community who are in need of their help as well as gaining a deeper understanding of the scope of their community needs.
In conclusion volunteering is a two-way relationship that needs to meet the goals of the volunteer and the organization.
“Greatness Begins where your comfort ends.”
In order to engage more volunteers and community involvement – organizations should effectively communicate an alignment:
with individual volunteer preferences, motivations and personal values – keeping in mind today’s volunteers are more goal oriented, autonomous, tech savvy and mobile,
a simple and clear focus on organizational goals and vision – specifically outlining purpose and benefits.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
— Winston Churchill
It’s just Uncommon Sense
© 2017, Uncommonsensemom. All rights reserved.