Jennifer Lehman, Epsilon Upsilon, Baylor University
Have you ever been the recipient of a Good Samaritan? I’ve been fortunate enough to experience this inherent goodness more than once in my life, with people who have gone out of their way to do something extraordinary for me.
Recently, while on vacation, I had a memorable encounter with complete strangers who stopped to offer assistance when I needed help – lovely people who inconvenienced themselves for hours simply to help my family. It reminded me of another encounter that happened when I was a college student stranded on an interstate with a flat tire, before cell phones were around. Three young women and I were in the car headed to a college football game when a tire blew. When a man saw us standing on the shoulder of the highway reading the car manual, I can only imagine what he was thinking. But nevertheless, this young husband and father took hours out of his day to help a group of young students.
A busy dad on a busy Saturday morning stops to help a group of clueless co-eds. Why would he do that? Maybe he saw in us his grown-up daughter. Maybe he imagined the alternative and figured if he didn’t stop, the next person who did might not have the best of intentions. Maybe he thought of our dads – far away and unable to help – and hoped that someone would help his little girl some day when she needed it. Regardless of his motivation, something caused him to act, sacrificing his time and family, simply to help someone else. I did not appreciate this act of kindness then, but I have great appreciation for it today.
As I recently reflected on this story, I thought about the volunteers those of us in the nonprofit sector have the privilege of knowing. We all know leaders who serve on boards, volunteer at recruitment events, manage fundraising efforts, serve as advisers, the list goes on and on. What motivates them to do this? There are dozens of answers to that question. But, most importantly, something in their spirits causes them to choose the mission of an organization for a few hours over business, family, and hundreds of other responsibilities.
Why? Because they care.
So take a moment today to think of the volunteers you encounter in your organization. It’s a privilege the for-profit world does not have – people who give selflessly to make someone else’s life better. Volunteers aren’t perfect – sometimes far from it – but if you take the time to learn their motivations and better understand the why, that insight can help you bring out the best in them, which, in turn, means the greatest impact on your organization.