Where would America be without volunteers who give millions of hours to make our country better? The answer is nowhere. It is core to who we are but vastly overlooked by our government elites.
We need more voluntary efforts. We won’t get it if we don’t organize it. Consider the nonprofits whose only goal is to do just that.
It’s possible that there’s a woman who walks around your neighborhood every day, generously straightening up, picking up trash and improving things. Possible but unlikely.
Countless hours of volunteer engagement go untapped, because it’s genuinely unlikely that people will contribute what they can, unencouraged.
The key elements are an agenda, peer support and a hierarchy of achievement.
The agenda is important, because it frees the volunteer up to do what’s next, instead of figuring out what’s next. The agenda makes it emotionally and socially safe to contribute. And the agenda lays out the road map of how we (however ‘we’ is defined) get from here to there.
Peer support is critical. “People like us do things like this.” It’s difficult enough to find the time and energy to contribute, but harder still to do it when one feels like an outsider.
And a hierarchy of achievement kicks in to amplify and encourage the work of the 10% of people who do 90% of the work. By recognizing those people as well as giving them more authority, the hierarchy creates a self-fueling cycle of impact.
Volunteering is a spark that makes society work, but it takes organizations to build the support structures that keep it going.
Better structures lead to better work. People who care can magnify their impact by building structures that bring in more people who care.