It’s been almost 8 years since i joined CRY America (NY NJ chapter) as a volunteer. The first 6 years have taught me a lot , the 6 years have given me various opportunities, 6 years have challenged me with various situations , the 6 years have won me lot of friends, well wishers. Well, i also had some quite embarrassing moments , some very tough situations, but got to learn something from every situation I was in .
In short I owe a lot to cry for giving me the opportunity to volunteer.
However, the last couple of years have been anything but the above. While loosing volunteers was a problem we had to deal with all along, it was the inability to maintain the same motivational levels with the remaining volunteers. Pretty soon, except for the name of the group there was nothing else to mention about the group or it’s activities.
The strange thing about a volunteer organization is that there will be 100’s of volunteers who join the organization but except for a handful, no one ever takes active participation in any of the activities and they can’t be forced either. They have to be somehow motivated, pushed to come to the fore front. But aren’t they already motivated, isnt’t that’s the reason they joined the organization.
Apparently that’s not the case. Volunteers join for various reasons such as
- to network;
- to meet new people;
- to make new friends;
- to genuinely support the cause;
- to spend their free time in a constructive manner;
- to add the experience to their resume;
- to just hang out.
No matter what the reason is, they are all part of the group. So the responsibility of an organization is not only to focus on it’s mission, it also needs to focus on motivating the volunteers to take active participation in it’s activities.
I always felt volunteering has to be coupled with activism. This not only keeps us, the volunteer motivated but also helps us connect with the ground realities of the people for whose cause we are trying to do our bit. Unfortunately the realization itself came in a bit late !!!
Or may be i got it wrong , i still need to learn the tricks and trades and there is still a lot more to this. The only good news is i’m still a volunteer and still have the opportunity to learn !!.