Have you ever volunteered? What did you make of it? Did it work for you? Did it work for the organisation?
A while back, as part of the Volunteering Unplugged initiative from Seek, I was asked to volunteer my time, energy and ideas to a local non-profit. It just so happened that Annie Le Cavalier from Vibewire Youth Inc had been to our regular coffee morning here in Sydney, so I checked whether there might be a good fit with my skills and what they needed to do.
What started out as a few hours discussing strategic challenges evolved into a whole lot more. As I got to know Annie and what she and the Vibewire team were trying to do, I realised that there was a great deal of opportunity. Over the years, Vibewire have built an impressive community of passionate and articulate young members and are effectively the unmediated voice of Australian Youth. They provide a platform and the mentoring and experience that helps young people transition into, and become successful in, the workforce.
Since my first volunteer meeting with Vibewire, I have met accountants, social entrepreneurs, students, writers, programmers, marketers and a wide variety of passionate and deeply engaged young people whom I would never have otherwise come into contact with. And it has certainly changed my perception of Gen Y. You can read my brief story here.
And I think that is what volunteering is all about. Sure, it is nice to “give back”, but volunteering is a two-way street. You get a lot “out of” volunteering too. It gives you the chance to hear the stories of others and to participate in their lives in a meaningful way – and because of this, because it becomes personal, volunteering can change the way you look at the world. And it is not all baking scones and visiting people. There are a vast number of non-profits who need business help, marketing support and technology assistance – and a few hours from you could really help them get back to the task of helping others. So have a think about volunteering some of your time.
But don’t take my word for it. Read the stories of other bloggers who took the Volunteering Unplugged:
Life in Mono , Firebug Theme , Miss McMuffin , Autumn Leaves , Blogpost.com , Sheila’s Wonderings , The life of an Audit Diva , Adspace-Pioneers , Corporate Engagement , Wonderwebby , Consumer Psychologist , Imaginif
Thanks to Julian Cole for getting me involved!