I see a lot of blog posts about why you shouldn’t work for free, but I think that society undervalues the volunteer at times. This post isn’t meant to dismiss situations where you should be charging for your time, but rather speak up for the role of the volunteer.
My mum taught me the importance of giving back from an early age. I always joke that my first volunteer experiences were hardly “voluntary” because she was the one signing me up. Now I’m grateful. It used to disappoint her when someone signed up to volunteer and then wouldn’t show up because they felt their commitment wasn’t as binding due to the fact they were an unpaid volunteer. It’s the wrong mindset.
Sometimes getting paid to do something is not possible or not likely. This shouldn’t hold you back. If money isn’t your reason for doing something, it won’t hold you back from helping an important cause, mission or not-for-profit. We should value these chances to help.
Not getting paid extends to more than just charitable work in my mind. Some things we do in life won’t always be about making money. Sometimes, it’s about doing something you love, something you enjoy. The cliché saying we all know is, “there is more to life than money.” Yes, everyone needs to make a living but not everything we do has a dollar amount attached to it.
I’ve also found that getting paid to do something potentially changes expectations both for yourself and the person paying you. When you’re getting paid it can ruin the “fun” element. The person paying you might expect more than when you were a volunteer. Now that you’re suddenly getting paid you could also get fired.
When you’re not following your passion, helping someone who needs you, or feel that you’re being taken advantage of for some reason– then revaluate your situation and ask again if you should still be working for free.
What are your thoughts on getting paid?
cc license, U.S. Coast Guard
You may have heard of the efforts in Columbus help victims of the Haiti earthquake. Today Mayor Michael B. Coleman, the American Red Cross of Greater Columbus and Central Ohio media outlets are hosting a special one-day fundraiser. They will be at the Ohio Historical Society parking lot from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. accepting donations.
I know that I’m a new blogger and that my words might not reach a huge audience but I still felt it was important to share this message. I was asked by Heather (@prtini) along with other Central Ohio bloggers to “donate” my online space today. I was more than happy to do that and now I ask YOU to please find a way to donate.
How The Online Community Can Help
- Blog about the event on Wednesday and/or Thursday, sharing how people can donate
- Fan the Facebook page and ask your friends to join as well
- Tweet using the #Cbus4Haiti hashtag
- Share the content with your other social networks
- Email your Columbus friends and family, asking them to support the event
To Donate to the Red Cross
- Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish)
- Make a secure online contribution by visiting http://www.redcross.org. You can choose to designate your contribution to the International Response Fund or for the Haiti response specifically
- Text “Haiti” to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the Red Cross
- Drop off a check or cash donation on Thursday, January 21 to the Ohio Historical Center
No effort is too small or meaningless. If one person made a donation, or simply took time to reflect on the larger issues of our world, then this post was well worth my time. Keep up the awesome work Columbus!
I love the concept behind Columbus Gives Back, and try to give them shout outs when possible. If you are a young professional in Columbus who wants to get involved with community service but don’t have a lot of time of time to commit – here is your answer.
The group plans one time volunteer events in various interest areas of community service. After the project the group usually goes out for food or drinks to socialize. It is free to become a member. Join their email list and RSVP online for events you are interested in attending. You can show up to an event anywhere from once a week to once a year, no restrictions or minimum requirements.
Juliana Pernik started the group in March 2009 to use volunteerism to make friends. She refers to it as “volunteering with a social twist.” Juliana works during the day and goes to school at night so I’m not really sure when she finds time for this constantly growing group (another reason I love to help her spread the world and get others involved).
Preparing a meal at the Unverferth House
I’m also a fan of young people using community service to take visible action. Service and philanthropy are themes I want to carry throughout my life, regardless of my career path. I find volunteering empowering (and fun) so sharing that feeling with others is important.
So take the next step. I encourage you to check out the website and consider joining the mailing list (remember no commitment) or become a fan on Facebook. You can also follow them on twitter @cbusgivesback which is how I found out about the group and got involved. The leadership team is always looking for event leaders. This is a great way to work with a cause you are particularly passionate about. Columbus Gives Back is a great opportunity to serve, meet new people while having fun in Columbus. Hopefully I’ll see you at a future event.
One of my favorite volunteer projects to organize with Circle K is a “rake and run.” We borrow the school van and drive around Westerville looking for random front yards still covered with leaves. I’ve been told some Circle K clubs rake the leaves when no one is home and then leave a note at the door. We like to ask the homeowners for permission first, but most are extremely grateful for the offer. Typically there is a reason the yard hasn’t been taken care of – perhaps they are elderly, living alone, very busy or have something else holding them back.
Part of the reason I like rake and runs so much is the instant feedback and gratitude from those you are helping. It generates such a genuine response. Let’s face it, how often does someone knock on your door and ask to do a few hours of yard work free of charge? We are not interested in donations, delivering a message or handing out literature. It is just a random act of kindness, helping out a stranger, no strings attached. The women we met this week probably thanked us ten times. There were four of us working and it took about an hour and a half to finish the front yard. Meaning it would have taken this woman living alone at least six hours to finish the job on her own, maybe more.
Another gratifying part of this project is the effect is has on the students volunteering. I took three sophomore with me who have been involved with Circle K since last year. There was a moment where one girl stopped, looked at me, and said, “I’m glad I don’t have to do this alone.” It was really powerful, because I think she realized the impact of her actions on someone else. It was also a great reminder of why we choose to serve others.
You don’t have to be a volunteer extraordinaire to rake leaves. It’s easy, but sometimes a simple good deed can be really meaningful.