This is a piece that I've been meaning to write for a number of years and have perhaps told this some or all of this story in a number of ways. I sense a shift towards volunteering and hope that it is not a one-off, short-lived affair, but something that we all to some degree or another choose to do.
'Gift work' for those unfamiliar with the term was first coined by Charles Handy in 'The Elephant and the Flea' as part of one's portfolio career. Defined loosely as a type of work done with no (financial) reward expectation in return. To you and I, this is most synonymous with volunteering.
Here are a few reflections of my own entry & experiences into this world:
Whizz-Kidz - I'd recently left the corporate world for the first time. By way of synchronicity, I'd me the CEO of this medium-sized charity at a party and she'd said that they were always open to new volunteers and I was willing to explore how I could help out. A meeting with the then Volunteer Manager followed. It wasn't an interview per se - rather an exploration of fit, what I could bring to the table and what I too wanted out of it.
I was placed in the Corporate Partnerships team - and had a very flexible work arrangement with the team. Here, I had my first real exposure to a not-for-profit, took part in fundraising events & made new friends. This is what led me to my next 'gift work' stint.
Find out more about Whizz Kidz - http://www.whizz-kidz.org.uk/
Unseen Tours - A co-founder of this fabulous little social enterprise was working at Whizz-Kidz at the same time I was volunteering there. We became friends and over time I found myself hanging out with the crew. To begin with, my involvement was quite informal. Over time, I became known as the 'Critical Friend' to the organisation providing a sounding board and commercial advice.
I certainly witnessed a few waves of evolution during the years I was actively involved and to my mind, the right people, and the right energy came and went naturally. The business model remains somewhat unique. Here, I learnt a lot about volunteer motivations, humility and had my first dabble with public speaking engagements, predominantly within educational establishments.
Although I'm now longer actively involved, I remain passionate about the cause and a strong advocate. I'm truly humbled by how people are currently giving their time, yet saddened by the effect on income streams for not-for-profits.
These are but two examples of gift work evolution in my own portfolio and I'll no doubt share others in due course. Other small doses of community and service are coming to the fore now - sometimes it may be our creative side that makes the world go round. My mum's brought her sewing machine out and makes a handful of masks per week for friend's and neighbours. Others are revisiting their hobbies for the same. That's humanity right there.
Find out more about Unseen Tours - https://unseentours.org.uk/
Rupa Datta - Founder, Portfolio People