There is Never Enough Time - The Volunteer Paradox
Listening to Tessa's keynote on Volunteering at JoomlaDay Israel a thought struck me. If volunteering is so great, and I think it is and I have done it all my life, then why doesn't everyone do it and why don't those of us that do volunteer do it more. I have travelled the world and met so many people with amazing passion and skills for Joomla and yet I never see them contributing. Why is that? Is the problem with us? Is this a problem we can and should be solving? There are so many different ways that people can volunteer to help the Joomla project, so what is stopping some people from giving their time?
The day lasts 86,400 seconds. It always has and barring planetary disaster it always will. Dolly Parton sang "Workin' 9 to 5, What a way to make a livin'" but today we are working longer hours and have more commitments on our time than ever before.
In 2014, the pace of life is faster than it has ever been. The pressure on our time is constantly growing and the requests to squeeze in even more activities never ceases. Society has changed and our responsibilities are increasing as we get older – raising children, caring for elderly relatives and even caring for grandchildren.
It is not just time pressure, but financial pressure that affects our ability to volunteer. As the cost of living and the demand for material goods increase we all have to spend more time working and have less time to volunteer.
We need to rethink the volunteer model – not by paying people but by changing the tasks and adjusting what we expect and require of people when they volunteer.
It is frustrating for co-ordinators to hear "I don't have the time" but it is also frustrating for people who really want to volunteer but can't because they are unable to make the time commitment.
Every time we stand up and espouse the benefits to Joomla and to you by being a volunteer and contributing we are upsetting and excluding those that want to but don't feel they can.
We need to adjust our contribution model so that it provides opportunity not just for those with time but for those without time as well – you should not have to volunteer for a set number of hours a day or week – any time and any contribution is valuable.
So what can we do?
- Reward tasks completed not hours contributed.
- Ask new people. Varying the group reduces the time commitment and increases the pool of available volunteers
- Make it fun. Make volunteering a part of someone's social time not their work time. It should be a joy not a chore.
- Make it an opportunity for learning and personal enhancement. That way the individual and Joomla both benefit.
- Provide the time for reflection. If you are always running to complete a task you don't have time to discover if that is even the right task.
These are just a few suggestions – it would be great to hear any ideas you have in the comments below.
We can't add more hours to the day so let us see if together we can make the most of those hours.