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To be a volunteer – to do something for others

Volunteers give up their free time, are not reimbursed and sometimes they even have to face rejection. However, this does not influence their cheerful and relentless enthusiasm. Why is it worth being a volunteer? – a personal story.

For the curious laymen

The root of volunteering, in fact, lies somewhere deeper than in the benefit or the traditional recognition of work.


Some time ago, I was talking to a volunteer who was fundraising to help a girl who was born with certain disabilities. I must admit, I am not usually thrilled when I am presented with the touching folders of heart-breaking pictures, because I find it unfair that they rely on your compassion to receive help. As usual, I didn’t look at the folder this time either, but I got curious. I went inside for some money, signed the donation form in the name of my family and I asked what I was really interested in:


-  Would you tell me why you are doing this? – and the elderly lady who I was standing next to at our gate basically told me about the psychology of donating for a cause and volunteering through her own story. She did not show much animation or pompousness, but she made her work’s weight and purpose felt. She taught me something that I am now trying to teach you, too.


The essence of volunteering

First of all, she made it clear that everybody has an intrinsic motivation for volunteering, they do not volunteer because it sounds good or because they are attracted to the task. People who volunteer usually want to show gratitude to life for something or want to give something to humankind, because they feel that they have been shown grace by Fate.


In the story of a few minutes that the lady told me about her son who was diagnosed with brain tumour not long after his birth, all the gratitude was shown that the lady and her whole family felt.  But you could also feel the hopelessness and despair, the feelings that ruled their home in the months in which their son’s state seemed irreversible. The boy, who is already in his twenties and lives a full life with the help of some medicine, spends his days looking for a job at the moment, like a lot of young people of his age.


The lady and her family experienced the feeling of being terrified of losing somebody who means more to them than anything else in the world and know what parental responsibility feels like when their child is concerned.


Fundraising/donating for a cause

What does this have to do with donations and money? In this case it is the thing that spoils it all. Of course, the situation is not so dramatic, since money is always only a means in our hands and it only depends on us how we use it. Usually, the reason that leads to a child’s death or late treatment is the family’s lack of money for the necessary interventions or hospital treatment and medicine.


Therefore, volunteers and forums of charity exist to collect that little that will eventually mean a lot.


The crucial question of donating for a cause

When shall we donate for a cause? I am really sorry, but I cannot answer this question. I tried to figure it out and I tried to see through fundraisers, but, let’s not be naive, not every ’folder-person’ is really collecting for a cause, sometimes they only want to abuse this method to gather some pocket money for themselves. It is sad, but true.


For those who are sceptical, the only advice I can give is to trust people, since fundamentally, everybody has good intentions and it is impossible to filter out all the scams anyway. If you cannot decide to donate or not, go for the middle ground and give a sum that you can afford – for others even this can be of help!


And believe that the sun will shine brighter if you think of somebody else a little!


Translated by Judit Molnár

Published: Fri, 29/11/2013 - 11:14

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