Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2016 Review – It didn’t kill my Volunteerism spirit.

Not too much can I say about the year gone by. I know that in 2017 people will volunteer in their millions once more. I sense more people will become interested in doing more for their community. Proof? Not in yet. Just some observations and some articles I’ve seen. See earlier blogs.
I get a sense of people watching the news on TV feeling helpless. How can I help? What can I do to make a difference? There is an opportunity here for Humanitarian organisations to connect with the armchair viewers of the chaos going on around us. Because everyone can make a difference.
Nobody need feel helpless.
Everybody can do something.
But then there is the community division. A person may volunteer for a great organisation and do important work for some vulnerable people in our community. Yet that same person may be a proponent of banning Muslim immigration. They may be anti-refugee in their sentiment. But they volunteer in their local hospital or local pet shelter. They may be doing great work with the homeless.
How do we look at this narrative?
How many thousands of people who voted Donald Trump volunteer in the American community?
“Volunteering is time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain.” This is the definition of volunteering according to Volunteering Australia. Does it apply to those who volunteered for both sides of the campaign in America?
Does it apply to those who volunteer for One Nation in Australia?
Who decides what common good is?
Volunteer activists who break the law? Common good?
Is the law always common good?
Volunteer leaders must be struggling with these issues across the globe but it’s a bit of a taboo topic. Which is a pity. It’s good to air the difficulties we face. And help each other.
We like to keep sex, politics and religion out of our volunteer team discussions! But it’s easier said than done.
For me it’s about aligning to the values of whatever organisation we work with. It’s that simple. But engaging with people around this is the challenging part.
If I work with a humanitarian organisation I expect that I have humanitarian values.
If you are challenged by some views from your teams check your organisations mission and values. Maybe in this day and age you may even need to reassess them.
For me the “Common Good” in the volunteering definition speaks to decent Humanity. Maybe every organisation that engages volunteers need to embrace humanitarianism first.

"Activism can be considered volunteering. This definition is aligned to the current UN position on volunteering that states: ‘When people participate in peaceful activism, for or against animal research or building of a dam, both sides seek what they consider to be beneficial outcomes. They are included in our definition. Activities involving or inciting violence that harm society and actions not corresponding to the values attributed to volunteerism are not included in our definition’


  1. I had similar thoughts in this blog after the election:

    I've heard from a lot of organizations saying that a long-term volunteer is violating their policies by expressing opinions that are not allowed in the workplace, such as intolerant views of people that are not Christian, but they are afraid to reprimand the person because of the person's status as a long-term volunteer. They are willing to lose other volunteers to keep that long-term person. Very disturbing.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment Jayne. That is a worry.


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