Two of Conjunct’s recent blogs dealt with the subject of Skills-Based Volunteering: How to make skills-based volunteering work and Why Skills-Based Volunteering? In this blog, I’d like to take a step back and ask “Why Volunteer?”
My journey as a volunteer:
Let me start by sharing my journey as a volunteer. In 2000, while living in California and after being retrenched by my company, I travelled to Romania at the invitation of two friends who were missionaries there. I was shocked and appalled by what I had seen-children playing in the snow with no shoes, no coats and no warm clothing of any kind. I saw mothers who could not afford the fees to get their documents and thus have no access to healthcare or public services. I became determined to do something, anything.
I started by holding a shoe drive and sent 12 boxes of shoes to my missionary friends who distributed them directly to those in need. Over the next 10 years, I collected and shipped more than 12,000 kilos of clothing, shoes, blankets, toys, and toiletries, mostly at my own expense and out of my one car garage. I also helped my friends develop programs such as after-school programs, textbook libraries, mother care/mother support meetings and drug/alcohol abuse prevention programs. So I know first hand the benefits and the rewards of being a dedicated volunteer.
When asked the question “Why Volunteer?” everyone answers differently, but there are some common benefits in every person’s answer. We’ll consider those benefits, but first let’s address the first commonly quoted roadblock to volunteering: Time.
Think you have no time to volunteer? Consider this: it’s never a matter of time; it’s always a matter of priorities. We ALWAYS have time to do what matters to us. Love sports? I bet you always find time to practice, play or attend sporting events. Love to travel? If you aren’t actually on a trip, I bet you’re thinking about where you’d like to go next or remembering with pleasure a recent trip. Be honest, instead of saying you have no time, state the truth – it’s not a priority to me. Some of the time activities aren’t yet a priority, because I don’t fully comprehend the benefits. So let’s ask “WIFM?” or What’s in it for me?
*Growth-If you want to grow, help others. If you are facing personal or professional challenges, help others. If you are depressed, lethargic or unmotivated, help others. There is no faster, cheaper or more rewarding path to rise above whatever might be facing you than to get out of your comfort zone and volunteer. You’ll find new talents, new skills and new energy that you didn’t even know you had and you’ll make new friends too.
*ROI – “What’s the ROI (return on investment)?” Many people consider that money is the scarcest resource, but I believe that time is truly everyone’s scarcest resource. Why? Because many of us, given unlimited time, can always earn more money. However, no one can earn more time. We all have exactly 24 hours in a day. We can only save and invest time. And I like to invest my limited time where it has the greatest ROI.
Consider this: volunteering is win-win-win. The return on investment accrues not only to you but to other people and organizations. While the latter two returns have been well outlined, let me share WIFM (what’s in it for me).
Through volunteering, I win, because I get the satisfaction of helping others. I win because I meet new people, gain new insights and get new perspectives. I win because I always get a big dose of gratitude. No matter what seemed to be a challenge before, when I give to others, I gain a new appreciation for all the gifts, blessings, talents and resources that I enjoy daily. Thus volunteering helps me live my life to the fullest, with an attitude of appreciation which leads to joy.
After visiting Romania, I no longer felt sorry for myself, because I had lost my job of 15 years. I knew that I was blessed beyond imagining. I knew that no matter what my external circumstances, I could always have hope because the world was full of opportunities – I just hadn’t found them yet. Now, of course, living and working in Singapore, I have found new opportunities and my life has transformed. I continue to volunteer because it’s been an incredible journey of discovery and adventure.
Say YES to volunteering and set in motion an adventure that will leave you and others forever changed – for the better. It’s an investment that will provide outstanding ROI in ways you can’t possibly imagine. Invest in yourself, in others, in society: Volunteer!
About Connie Finch:
Connie is the Global Controller for Viki.com, an internet video streaming company with offices in Singapore, Silicon Valley, CA, Korea and Shanghai. Living in Singapore since 2012 and she has volunteered with several organizations in Singapore, including Care Channels. She is also a volunteer with Conjunct Consulting since 2016.
To find out more about volunteering at Conjunct Consulting, please visit this page.