What kind of work should we get done by volunteers?


The mission comes before everything else. The credibility and the evidence of success of your mission attracts people who would like to contribute their effort to it. There are two aspects here – one is the most pressing things that need to be done for the mission, the other is the volunteer’s specialty.

Dignity in Voluntary Labor

If you put the mission first ( which makes a lot of sense nearly all the time), then you would identify what areas are under-served or need more attention. You would then deploy all human power that becomes additionally available to address those areas. Sometimes the tasks may be just physical labor or very simplistic chores. Yet, your decision would be governed by organizational priority.

This approach will work just fine so long as you communicate it to prospective volunteers. Many reasonable people understand that while they possess specialized skills and can provide valuable ideas, there is such a thing as lending a helping hand in a situation, where they just do whatever needs doing. The great thing about this is that the cause is helped, the mission moves forward, and the volunteer has toiled purely in its interest, with hardly any other fulfillment at a personal level.

Bring along your Gift

There is another approach – it has more of a “win-win” and is likely to appeal more to those with higher skills and specialized abilities. These are people who feel gratified at the opportunity to utilize their gifts and knowledge for the aid of a humanitarian or philanthropic cause. Making such a contribution of their time, talent and effort brings them a unparalleled sense of gratification at a personal level. This is their motivation, and yet such a drive or desire on their part delivers a high-quality benefit to the cause – whether by way of encouragement, support in fund raising, medicare or surgery, skills training, ambassadorial or liaison work, or other kinds of know-how.

At a spiritual level – if by spiritual, we mean a plane that is higher than the customary social level – it makes sense to apply the notion of `equal as humans’, and offer the specialists the opportunity to get some time offering assistance of a non-specialist kind too.

The reason for this is that they usually are called upon professionally for their specialist abilities, but social service is a realm where they seek to be useful to a cause in various ways, and their own skill-set is an important but just one of the ways of feeling and expressing their commitment.

It’s all for the Cause

But this is in an ideal situation, and depends upon the level of spiritual understanding of the volunteer as well. Usually what happens is that there are more cataract surgeries required than volunteer eye surgeons can manage time for, and so every minute of their volunteering time will be utilized for their specialist skills. While this is a charitable service they perform with their professional ability, it’s not the same as a spell of setting aside their personal or professional identity where a person renders service with no regard for self. This is a level of `selfless’ service where a person sets aside their background and emotions and is intensely and solely focused on the task or the cause. And they do so not out of any compulsion, coercion or cajoling, but of their own chosen will – such a dedication of the “volens” or will is the ultimate level of volunteering which can be known only by experiencing it for oneself.


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