Harbinger Consultants

Creative Sustainability :: Place, People, Product, Potential, Partnership + Pollinating

GIVE | Online volunteering

by Linda Carroli

John and I participate in many community activities, making time to volunteer and give to the community where we can. I recall a colleague telling me that she couldn’t see the point of volunteering: others, she said, only value what they pay for and, unless there was a self-promotion or marketing rationale, she wasn’t interested in ‘giving’. Other colleagues have operated from a ‘what’s in it for me’ mindset where they leverage advantage from their voluntary efforts. Our view is that that approach isn’t philanthropy or volunteering – it’s a business partnership and that certainly plays a vital role for many non-profit organisations. However, our business is part of the community, not outside it. It doesn’t just operate exclusively in the flows of business, markets and marketing. We also feel strongly that our paid work or intentions are not the only things we ‘contribute’.

We’ve both been involved in non-profit boards and reference groups, we’ve donated our time and services to community groups, and made all kind of commitments. Unfortunately, we increasingly find that we are pressed for time and that community involvements can be too consuming. We both recently stood down from non-profit boards and have found that we have more time. So, we’re now thinking about how our volunteering can have an impact while retaining an appropriate balance in ours lives.

We’ve been exploring various online volunteering opportunities, such as United Nations Volunteers, and closer to home the Centre for Volunteering and OurCommunity.com provides advice for those interested in different kinds of volunteering. We also think social networks provide some interesting opportunities for giving or sharing. For example, I was just looking at an online peer-to-peer community for seeking and offering mentoring and coaching called iMantri. John has an ongoing relationship with Indigenous Community Volunteers.

So we encourage our peers to explore the many opportunities for business, including solo operators who don’t have much time, to pass it forward.

P.S. Shortly after posting this I found a group called The Extraordinaries who deliver volunteer opportunities to mobile phones that can be performed on mobile phones in just a few minutes. It’s a clever idea that reduces barriers to volunteering and enables people to volunteer on-the-spot and on-demand.

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