Sunday, September 8, 2013

Volunteering: A Wish or an Action?

The road to bad places is paved with good intentions.

The source of this paraphrased statement is somewhat widely debated, but the value within the statement is unquestioned.

I notice some major problems in the City of Detroit.  Okay!  Maybe I am not the first one to make this "observation."

However, there is one problem I notice that is not unique to Detroit, but the City seems to suffer badly from it.

What problem is that?

It has to do with volunteering.

I notice a lot of different volunteer groups within the City of Detroit.  This really is a great thing, anyway, but it is truly essential since the City has more problems to solve than it does monetary resources to solve those problems.

This is where volunteering can save the day...or in this case save the City.

Quick Disclaimer: I, only the author of this post and NOT representative of the entire City of Detroit, only started interacting with volunteer groups with any regularity at the beginning of 2013--not a very long time.  This also means that I have not been around to see very many groups.

However, I think I've seen enough to make my point.

What is this major problem in Detroit having to do with volunteering?

I notice that many people who ATTEND MEETINGS at VOLUNTEER GROUPS do not really want to DO anything.

I've noticed this in different forms:

1. Membership without Action. I see this more often than any other form of ineffective volunteering.  There are people who seem to want to be part of a group, either to enjoy social interaction or to feel more important by being part of a volunteer group.  Either way, they are not helping accomplish anything, except adding to the membership count.

2. Broken Promises. Here is where are a lot of people with ambitious intentions sit.  These people make promises to complete things for the group, but they seldom, if ever, seem to find (or make) time to get them done to the level they initially promised, if they get done at all.  Usually, these people have great ideas--maybe even great skill sets--but they tend to speak more loudly in the beginning than they do at the end.  This is frustrating when the unsuspecting group members (or other would-be recipients) depend on the actions surrounding these promises, only to be disappointed later.

3. Short-Term Thinking. There are several people who want to use experience from different non-profit groups to build portfolios of their work while gaining contacts and experience along the way.  It is a brilliant strategy...when people actually DO the work.  However, I notice there are many more people excited about the IDEA of putting a bullet point on their resume than they are doing the work to earn so much more.

In any of these cases, volunteering really underachieves what it really is capable of doing for Detroit (or any other city or cause).

I notice that Detroit has amongst the greatest needs for volunteer help.  Many people seem to understand this concept...probably better than this blog post author truly does.

However, I keep noticing a lot more people being "part" volunteer groups than actually being part of the essential volunteer actions that help build Detroit's solution.

How about you?  Are you just WISHING you were a volunteer, or are you VOLUNTEERING YOUR ACTIONS?

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