Volunteering is usually considered to be the biggest component in helping society, so we’ve decided to survey one final aspect of volunteerism—the benefits we look for in choosing a volunteer opportunity. After looking at the challenges in volunteering technical communication expertise, and the types of organizations technical communicators choose to volunteer with, we were curious to know why you choose to volunteer.
This goes beyond filling up those free hours (and if you have any, we’re curious to know how you manage it). Those who choose to use their technical communication skills in some fashion may be looking to improve their job prospects, but even then it’s usually not the only reason. Do you have a particular cause that motivates you? Perhaps you find new energy in simply doing something worthwhile with people you can enjoy being around. And there’s a lot to be said for continuing to learn new things, so many technical communicators seek to help society while improving themselves and exploring new perspectives. And many, because financial circumstances have become less than ideal, want to help society without hauling out the check book (or debit or credit card).
The gang at TechWhirl understands the variety of motivations that lead to volunteering. The partners actually met and became friends through volunteer work. And the worthy and honorable members of the Special Writers Unit contribute, certainly not because of the royalties they get (at least not at the moment), but because of the camaraderie, the chance to share and sharpen skills, the portfolio building opportunities, and more. The SWU, in the same way as the whole gamut of technical communication pros, have unique skills to offer, individual interests and passions, and varying amounts of free time, so they volunteer in areas as diverse as the open source movement, fundraising for the arts, translators without borders, youth coaching, and literacy. Not to mention how many of our colleagues respond in heartfelt and ingenious ways when disaster strikes. Or how many technical communication vendors support NGO’s and non-profits around the world.
We all do something to advance society for all kinds of reasons, and as we head into the end-of-year holiday season, it’s worth taking a look around at your colleagues and peers for inspiration and ideas for helping society. Take a few minutes to vote in this week’s poll, and add a comment about your own motivations. Or start a new thread over on the email discussion list. We’re looking forward to the conversation.