Monday, February 15, 2010

Time & Money & Why Volunteering Is Worthwhile

A person might wonder why a person would work without getting paid - i.e. volunteering. I can provide some reasons that might convince even a selfish and horrible person to volunteer. And if the end result is positive, perhaps the intentions don't matter? That's another subject for another time, perhaps.

  • The cause is good. If you care about something deeply, volunteering for this cause is a great way to further said cause. And if you really do care, why wouldn't you do something?
  • By volunteering, you are often doing something for yourself. You want someone from your political party in office? Volunteer, help them there, then you are more likely to get YOUR legislation passed! Want a cure for a disease common in your family? Volunteer so that organizations funding research can afford to find it. I guess this starts to get a little self serving, but who wants to volunteer for something they don't believe in?
The best reason to volunteer is Altruism: doing something good for the sake of doing something good. But now I'll appeal to the selfish people out there, too.

  • Sometimes the benefits of volunteering are superior to the benefits of being a lazy ass. I volunteered at the Wearable Arts event this weekend and really didn't put in much work at all. I was an auction table guard and that mostly involved standing by a table and chatting with friendly patrons of the arts. I did this for a total of an hour and a half. If I were working at a retail job for an hour and a half, I'd probably make about $15 before taxes. After the event I spent about a half hour peeling stickers and stacking chairs - I think that event staff for the convention center make somewhere from $10-12, so for that extra half hour, I would make somewhere from $5-6. I was rewarded for volunteering by being allowed to see the show for free. Putting in the equivalent of $20-21 of work I saw a $25 event. It's almost like being handed $4. Plus one of the board members was nice enough to buy me a mimosa during the show. Maybe I'm just lucky to volunteer with such a great organization, but wouldn't this make a selfish person want to do it?
  • Sometimes it is really fun. I have volunteered at some rather unpleasant things before, like canvassing. Making calls. It's important because volunteers really do make a huge difference. But sometimes volunteering is FUN. Rotaract volunteers at Rotary's day at the lake every year and all you do is play with kids. I volunteered at a cabaret event and got to pour drinks and see the show for free. When you volunteer with an organization with really cool people, like JAHC and some of its affiliates, you have a great time, even if the work isn't traditionally fun.
  • Some other perks might include taking home some leftover goods. I walked away with beer, wine and food after at least a few events for which I've volunteered.
  • Think about the future - if you volunteer with an organization or in a field of interest, you might charm your way into a paying position. I know that my reputation volunteering in a few fields definitely led me to some great things.
So, now the altruistic and those who need ulterior motives alike can take part in the joys of volunteering! I would anticipate I've gotten a lot more out of volunteering than I've given and I don't think that's an uncommon thing. Plus, think about how well I must sleep at night!

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