Gratefully, I spend my days working in non-profit. As a fundraiser for many years, I am dedicated to my employer and my community. Today was The Jewish Federation’s city wide phone-a-thon and service day. We had over 500 volunteers today engaging in some type of volunteering.
I am truly moved by those who show up to give of their time. It is the generosity of their time and efforts that I find most admirable. Volunteering is hard. We talk a lot about the rewards of volunteering, how it feels good, how people should do it as well as admonish those who don’t do it. But we never really talk about how hard it is.
Physical contribution – some volunteering is hard labor. Cleaning up the beach, painting a school, or packing up food boxes can sometimes be physically challenging. Some people volunteer at Habitat for Humanity to build homes – I find this extraordinary. It takes a lot of strength to build a home.
Social Pressure – Everyone comes to the table with a different level of hunger and thirst. Sometimes, it feels the same in philanthropy. Some volunteers are starving for any kind of philanthropic experience – serving on a board or committee, committing to a weekly volunteer position, or raising money. Others come to the experiences more slowly. When a committee is a mix of all these different volunteers, each member must find their own comfort level to be involved and stay committed. As I watched a room full of callers today, I was touched by the generosity of those experienced who took the time to teach those who were new to volunteering in this capacity.
Emotional commitment – It is never lost on me that our volunteers have a deep emotional attachment to our organization. Their joy and sometimes their frustrations come from their love and investment in the survival of the organization. They come to care deeply for the beneficiaries of the organization and for their professional partners with whom they may work for many years. To witness a moment of tearful joy and pride for the work that is accomplished or the heartbreak for those who continue to be in need, is the great reward of a professional.
To all who volunteer for The Jewish Federation and organizations all over the world, thank you for helping us make the world a better place.