Sunday, June 6, 2010

Volunteering that offers purpose and more

I recently finished reading Drive by Dan Pink. This book challenges  the current management carrot & stick ethos. His basic contention is that some incentives can suck the enjoyment and results for creative, and intrinsically rewarding tasks.

He cites some very interesting research and anecdotes that back up his hypothesis. One in particular speaks of a study at the efficiency of donating blood. Turns out that when people were paid to give blood, donations decreased. When people were compensated it eliminated the good feeling from doing an altruistic act. The pillars of intrinsic motivation call for autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Volunteerism has intrinsic motivation, looking at Pink's criteria it clearly provides purpose. We all feel good about performing a self-less act for others. However when we look at many typical volunteer opportunities, they lack autonomy or mastery. Stuffing envelopes, serving food, donating blood etc. Enter Well of Change

Well of Change is a new non-profit organization fuelled by a small but passionate group. It's an online marketplace to increase volunteerism. They're like the Craigslist for volunteering. You can provide services to people in exchange for a donation to a charity.  People can feel altruistic in donating their time and talents while performing a task which offers them autonomy and mastery. A hairdresser can style hair in aid of Mount Sinai. A mechanic could rotate your tires in aid of the Scott Mission. On the other side, people are purchasing services while supporting charities which is a noble task as well.

If you're looking for a way (purpose) to give back to a charity you like while doing something you love (mastery) on your own terms (autonomy). Check out Well of Change, you could offer you skills to support a cause near to you. You might even find people offering services you need.

Autonomy, mastery, and purpose? Check, check and check. Well of Change should make Dan Pink proud.