Taking Stock of Volunteer Contributions


Edge of the Web 2011

The other day I added up the time I spend on volunteer work, you know, contributing back to the community and the like.

I used to see this as just an hour here, and hour there, no big deal.  I just consider it to be part of what I do.

However when I added it all up and came up with a yearly average. It was a bit of a shock.

The amount of time I spend volunteering is a little over an hour for every workday.   It’s around 240 hours annually.

Now that doesn’t seem that bad, until I put a dollar figure on this, in terms of lost income.   Now for me that’s a considerable slice of my time and money.

Makes you think if this volunteering is a good thing or not.

The upside.

Volunteering has a great number of benefits, not the least of which is that you are supporting the community and providing a service that often would never happen without your effort.

One of the major benefits is the connections and people you meet. Often this networking opportunity would take a lot longer to achieve, but volunteering will often shortcut the process. However you have to be willing to take advantage of the opportunity or the new contacts will be lost over time.

When times are good volunteering your time isn’t really an issue, it seems freely available.

For me this good time is when I don’t have to spend a lot of time looking for the next contract or slice of work to fill the next week or so.  Things just seem to flow, there is nearly no stress and everything just appears to just happen. Most of this comes from constantly networking.

You just don’t even think about your  time volunteering.  The time is not seen as being wasted or lost, volunteering just becomes just part of the work/life process.

The downside.

However this can all fall apart.  When the times aren’t so good you need to focus on other aspects of your life from family, to business.  Those extra hours that you try and find for volunteering often just aren’t there.  So you end up stealing time, usually from your family, this is not good.

I speak from experience here.  Over the last year, sadly  I have personally dropped the ball several times with volunteering.

Mostly it came down to doing volunteer work or putting bread on the table.  You can guess the latter won.   Still one does feel guilty over this.  I can’t but thank the fellow volunteers who picked up my slack.

Still with many work prospects not as perfect as they used to be, one does consider if it isn’t time to focus on my core personal needs.

Just think and say thanks.

So next time you are at an event or organisation run by volunteers.

Just stop for a moment, think if they were not here. This all would not have existed and you are in fact piggy backing on the charitable work of these volunteers.  It’s no good taking the attitude of “oh well someone else well do it” – because you know they wouldn’t have.

Just stop, say thanks to the volunteers let them know that you appreciate what they are doing for you and the community.

Also don’t assume they are getting any real benefits from their work, as more often than not they are loosing out on the time front.

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