Volunteering your time

As professionals, time is a valuable commodity.
I don’t particularly like that statement as the word “commodity” implies abundance; however, we do trade commodities for money, and in the case of time, most of us trade our time for a salary.

Memory chips are a commodity. Apples are a commodity.
We treat time as a commodity, but it should be a treated as a resource.

Resources are limited. Copper and gold in the ground are resources. Clean water is a resource. While oil is treated as a commodity due to its historical abundance, at some point, it will be priced based on scarcity or the increased difficulty in extraction.

Time? Perhaps it depends on your point of view. As an employer, time is a commodity—I can purchase time at a market rate from any number of providers. As an employee, time is a valuable resource that is limited and always decreasing.

Taking time to volunteer means donating your most valuable resource to an organization that, hopefully, doesn’t treat it like a commodity.

I now work on both sides of this equation—I ask people to volunteer their time, and I donate my time to other groups. As someone who now asks folks for their time, I have become more aware of the value of my time. I don’t want it wasted. I want it to help the organization and its mission.

If you are a volunteer, I encourage you to consider taking a leadership role in an organization you support. Most likely, you’ll be asked to ask of others. I’m confident it will put a new perspective on how you view (and value) your time.

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