Volunteering – Is there really a difference between now and ‘then’?
Is there really a difference in finding volunteers between now and ‘then’? Given the recently revealed results of the 2016 census, you could be forgiven for thinking that volunteering is on the rise in Australia. Generally, it probably is, however, when we break this down at a grass roots level such as schools and clubs, it’s not surprising to find that one of the most common problems for these groups is consistently finding volunteers.
You will often hear stories from ‘back in the day’ about how schools and clubs were ‘overflowing’ with volunteers. We tend to think of a lack of volunteers now as a modern-day issue, but this was not always the case as was highlighted recently by one of our Facebook followers who sent in a tuckshop menu from 1975.
The first thing that struck us about this was the prices! I mean a jam and cream donut for only 10 cents! Those were the days …
The second thing we noticed was no pies during summer! What’s the deal with that?!? Just kidding, that was the third thing 😉 The second thing was the note at the top advising that the tuckshop would no longer be able to operate five days a week due to a lack of volunteers.
So, it would seem that the whole lack of volunteers thing is not just a modern-day problem after all and the cricket noises and foot shuffling that we hear so often when we ask for volunteers are nothing new either. There’s no denying that these days family life is jam packed with sport, dance, music and many other extra-curricular activities, limiting the amount of free time for many.
Being married with three children myself and all that goes along with them as well as work, and day to day stuff I get it, I totally do and I often struggle to find some quality spare time. But that doesn’t stop me from being president of the P & C at one of my kid’s schools. I just make it work and do what I can.
If we all used our busy lives as an excuse for not volunteering, there would be even fewer volunteers than there are now and the results of that would be devastating not only for our local school and club communities but for society as well.
The important thing to remember about volunteering is to contribute where ever and however suits you and not to look at it as a chore. No one wants you to take on more than you can handle and if you can only give an hour to help out at a function or event, that’s fantastic. That’s an hour of time that wasn’t filled before and it’s not always about quantity. It’s about quality.
On the flip side though, don’t beat yourself up if you simply can’t do it. There are many ways that you can contribute to your group that don’t always require your physical presence. Talk to your committee and see what opportunities there are that you might be able to help with.
Maybe it’s time we looked at framing volunteering in a different and more positive way to encourage more people in our communities to participate. Volunteering offers opportunities for new experiences and learning. It also gives us the chance to build meaningful (and often long lasting) friendships with like-minded people. It sets a great example for our kids to see that we are willing to give back where we can and studies show that volunteering will not only make you feel good about yourself, it’s good for your health too.
Now I feel like a jam and cream donut … It’s probably a good thing for my waistline that they’re not 10 cents anymore! 😉
Fundraising Whisperer Freelance Writer
Regina is a mother of three and a P&C President. She knows first hand the ups and downs of volunteering.