This past weekend I was at a thank you brunch for the Edmonton Touring and Bicycle Club. This got me thinking to get back to a post on volunteer organizations (see Knowers, Doers and Funders in Volunteer Boards) and specifically why do people volunteer in the first place? From a rationale-economics model it makes absolutely no sense – giving away your time and talent for free. Volunteering is not limited to a few individuals either, according to a 2010 study by Statistics Canada, nearly half of us volunteer. Recent models and the study of altruism in animals suggests that there is an evolutionary basis for volunteering (more on this in a second).
This inclination to volunteer is good for our community because it means, at a fundamental level, people want to contribute. As a result, the question is how to encourage and sustain a natural inclination? The answer is two part: payment and reducing as much as possible the burden of volunteering. To start what I hope will be four additional blogs (insert good intentions here)….
The Currency of Volunteer Payment
Let’s start with the three currencies by which organizations can pay their volunteers:
- Paying Your Volunteers Well: introduction
- Currency 1, Purpose: being part of something that is bigger than any one person.
- Currency 2, Affiliation: the feeling of community and the creation of social bonds.
- Currency 3, Experience: gaining experience or practicing skills from being a volunteer.
This series is a companion to a previous blog entitled “Knowers, Doers and Funders in Volunteer Boards”.
The Burden of Volunteering
There is a ‘negative-payment’ involved in volunteering, the burden to do so. My fourth blog will be and exploration of what are the impediments volunteer organizations put into place that dissuade volunteers.
As always, let me know what you think or send me your volunteer horror/success stories.