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  • 1.  How can I measure my impact as a volunteer? What counts?

    Posted 01-30-2023 09:30
    Edited by Taylor Evans Ghosal 02-03-2023 09:42
    I know people who volunteer who often wonder how they can measure their impact in their communities or within the organizations they volunteer with. 

    My friend Fran shared a year-end post that really resonated with me: "I worked to really let go of feeling responsible for every single social problem that I see. I have been practicing the mantra that 'You can't solve a systemic problem with an individual choice,' and I'm really starting to internalize that (without abandoning a sense of collective belonging and responsibility)."

    As a highly empathetic person, you can feel both an acute sense of responsibility to solve things, and ALSO dread when you realize you can't change things on your own. My best advice is for people to gain clarity on the types of activities/causes/efforts that speak to their purpose -- and then focus on those.

    What has helped you gain clarity?

    How do you measure your impact as volunteer, in both tangible and intangible ways?

    Lee Ann Searight

  • 2.  RE: How can I measure my impact as a volunteer? What counts?

    Posted 01-31-2023 15:01
    @Lee Ann Searight, that quote your friend shared resonates with me big time. 

    Prior to the pandemic, I did a fair amount of public speaking at high schools and colleges around the topic of healthy relationships, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Often these presentations would include a case study where we'd present a story to a group of students, then ask which party they thought was responsible (if either) for misconduct, and whether that person (or persons) should be held responsible. The number of times I'd hear students make excuses or work to find loop holes in the case we presented in order for no one to be held responsible was honestly a little mindblowing, and hard to swallow. BUT! There were always one or two in the crowd who seemed to really Get It, and who spoke up with their thoughts, even if it went against the majority. And THAT felt good. 

    I say this because this is frequently how I see myself measuring my impact. Sometimes it's really easy to focus on the vastness of big issues and to get caught up thinking: I'm just one person; what can I possibly do to help?

    But if I think about the smaller ways - say, a 1:1 conversation with a new friend or colleagye about WHY having LGBTQ allies and advocates is so important to me as a queer person - that may have a big impact in another person's world. And perhaps they'll alter their behavior or share with one of their friends. A little bit of a domino effect, if you will. 

    What do you think?

    Stay awesome,