When most people think about volunteering there seems to be a rather bleak outlook on it, either for reasons of no monetary incentive for those who give up their time, or for it not being widely accepted as ‘proper work’. Throughout the past few years, I’ve learnt that volunteering your time for causes and projects that are important to you and particularly those for dawah purposes is one of the most valuable steps you can take towards developing yourself, your skills and an organization all at the same time.
Some may argue that people who ‘voluntarily’ do work that they are passionate about are more lucky than some people stuck in a job they have little enjoyment for – I wouldn’t say the reality is far from that! Below I’ll share with you some of the major lessons I’ve learnt from volunteering over the years; from the ability to lead in ideas to selfless productivity, it seems that volunteering is the way forward when it comes to cultivating our sense of purpose in life and giving back to society.
1. Giving Selflessly of Your Time
Giving back to society seems to be one of the main motivators people offer their time and effort to a cause or project outside of their work hours, as indicated by research. Perhaps what is most significant here is that volunteering your time (on the basis of wanting to contribute to society) is an immensely rewarding act, as the Prophet (prayers and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Every good deed is charity.” [Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Besides, most young people could seize the opportunity in their youth to spend some of that free ‘TV’ or ‘game-playing’ time to a project that could make a difference whether at a local or global level.
2. Developing Your Skills
Volunteering for an organization whose mission and message you believe in is truly an investment in yourself rather than simply for the organization. Even for professionals who work a 9-5 job, volunteering for an organization can provide more scope for developing your skills and knowledge in a specific sector. Personally, I have gained knowledge and experiences that are more enriching and relevant to me through dawah projects I volunteered either at the MSA/ISoc than I did through formal education. Some of these skills include the ability to take initiative, work with minimal supervision and best of all – take ideas and make them happen!
3. Meet Other ‘Passionately Driven’ People
There’s a working ethos we have at ProductiveMuslim which is one of ‘sincere intentions and hard work’ which has led me to the belief that only sincere people will remain driven in volunteering. There’s a huge support base that others offer for work in the virtual/real world and often my experience of working with people passionately driven by the cause of their work (ultimately for Allah) has a huge motivating factor in getting work done! People who work with a passion are driven to give their efforts which can be inspiring. Working for an organization currently that combines my love for its work, and the people in it, has definitely been one of the benefits of volunteering!
4. It takes Real Commitment
I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen over the years people who are so committed by the purpose and vision of their work that they’ve worked on the project/cause with optimal effort, and with even more effort than perhaps put into a role they receive a salary for (this doesn’t negate that we should offer volunteers paid opportunities and other similar benefits to express appreciation). Many organizations particularly in the charitable and Islamic sector rely on their volunteers to do an amazing job, which can be done with the right commitment and training in place.
5. You grow and learn
In reflection, multiple skills and projects have been the spring board for learning many lessons, making many mistakes and most vitally - helping me grow as an individual. The above are just a few of the many that I’ve been able to cultivate through my time in both online and offline volunteering. Many others could be mentioned such as high purpose work, advocating a shared vision, ability to work with like-minded people and being innovative as well as resourceful, but I want to hear your stories and experiences of volunteering, share them HERE in the public document