I haven’t really done any volunteering since I took a (now very extended) break from assisting a youth model parliament organization when I was about 25.
In large part, this is because most of my recent volunteer experiences have one thing in common: they ask me to do something I generally wouldn’t even do for money, for free.
Things like: cook for a dozen people, or lift heavy things back and forth, or greet and guide people.
While I understand that volunteering isn’t about having fun, it also shouldn’t be about wasting potential resources - and I’m betting most people who volunteer aren’t actually being utilized in the way that they generate the most value.
What I want, is a chance to be able to do the things I do best, for free, in support of a good cause. I’d find that more socially valuable, more validating, and more meaningful than being used for physical labour or as a human signpost.
I imagine a system that classifies different tasks and skills, and a taxonomy that attaches those skills to descriptive words, job titles, and experiences.
People who want to volunteer could feed in their LinkedIn profile, or Facebook information, and then answer a series of questions to validate the assumptions made on that data. Hopefully, it would allow potential volunteers to be identified at the outset as someone who is a great organizer, or creative worker, or technical worker, etc.
On the other hand, organizations looking for volunteers could submit a plan, a framework, and outline of what they need. If people are just looking for free labour, this wouldn’t be the way to do it. But if people are looking for collaborators, people to help turn an idea into a charitable volunteer effort, this could be hugely beneficial.
I think a lot about this kind of thing, because I feel like many start up efforts are actually non-profits in disguise. If your core motivation is truly to make the world a better place, and you don’t have a business model in mind, or even a vague concept for one, who’s to say that you don’t just want to focus on doing the thing, and not make it your career or your survival plan?
This is one of those non-posts that doesn’t come to fruition, because this isn’t a thing I actually want to make. It’s a thing I want to exist already. I want a way to find opportunities to do what I seem to do best, to try to make things better, completely separate from my professional life.