Volunteering in India

Goes around, comes around

Would you give more if you knew you would get back just as much or more than you’ve given?


Volunteering in India
Volunteering in India

Would you give more if you knew you would get back just as much or more than you’ve given?

I’ve been volunteering and working in the not-for-profit sector for eight months now. As an important part of my role is to lead volunteers communications and engagement, understanding the word ‘giving’ with all it entails has been (and still is) one of my key pieces of work.

Why do people chose to donate their time, effort, money and/or skills to a cause? Is it simply for the ‘love’? Because they feel emotionally connected with the cause? Some want to make a difference and do something active about an issue they have at heart. You may remember more theories on this topic I shared while travelling through Sri Lanka: Generosity or egocentrism?

In any case, the act of giving often leads to one of receiving – a sense of achievement, satisfaction, self-esteem, etc. – which manifests itself at different levels. Traditionally, the balance has tilted more towards giving. Not-for-profit organisations can (and should) be innovative in how they ensure their volunteers feel they receive just as much – or more – as they give. But how can we, as volunteers, also play a role in this giving/receiving balance?

  • Pick a cause that makes you happy or angry – but definitely fiery

Do you find your energy level picking up when you talk about a specific topic? The immaterial sense of accomplishment gained from making a difference to an important cause can’t be underestimated. Look for a cause that gets your heart racing and you will receive much more satisfaction in return.

  • Look for the right fit 

Some causes will require high expertise and low manual tasks, others will need hands-on practical duties and no specific knowledge. Some will demand one-off commitments, others will look for regular volunteering. By choosing a not-for-profit that aligns with your needs, you will ease the burden often associated with giving. So ask the organisation a lot of questions before getting involved to make sure it’s the right fit for both of you.

  • Seek personal and professional development

What skills or knowledge would you like to build on? One of the best ways to ensure you get a lot out of giving is to include relevant volunteering opportunities within your personal or professional development plans which focus on the skills and knowledge you are looking to enhance.

  • Put it out there 

Most not-for-profit organisations have volunteer coordinators, communications consultants or stakeholder engagement experts. Speak to them about what you would like your experience with the organisation to be like. You know the saying: what you put out into the universe…

Giving time, money or expertise is such a rewarding gesture. I’m incredibly excited to explore with our volunteers how we can help to tilt the traditional giving/receiving balance so they get so much out of their involvement.

Now I’m curious. What has been your experience of giving?

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