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What’s Your Contribution?

By Shawn Stratton | Follow him on Twitter


What’s Your Contribution?

Leadership is influence.” ~John C. Maxwell

Leadership is an expansion of influence. You influence your friends, your family, and your community. What’s the ripple effect of your influence?

Even though Statistics Canada reported that the number of people volunteering in Canada is growing slightly, a small proportion of volunteers do most of the work. In fact in 2010, 10 per cent of volunteers accounted for 53 percent of all volunteer hours given to non-profit and charitable organizations.

According to, volunteering connects you to others: “One of the best-known benefits of volunteering is the impact

Copyright Shawn Stratton

Copyright Shawn Stratton

on the community. Unpaid volunteers are often the glue that holds a community together. Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place. However, volunteering is a two-way street, and it can benefit you and your family as much as the cause you choose to help.”1

If volunteering is so amazing, why aren’t people doing more of it? (tweet that)

I, just like everyone else, get busy and caught up in my own family and life. It is hard to keep all your priorities straight. I recently received a reminder of the importance of my volunteer participation with the community through some wonderful comments. I was moving from St. John’s to Calgary when goodbye messages begin to fill my inbox; many of them commented that our (Triathlon and running) community would miss me. It let me know that my presence and my efforts to give back to these groups, however small, had made a difference to others. I, fortunately, had fantastic role models growing up. I saw my parents constantly volunteering with various organizations: hospital, church groups, and charitable societies.

If you want to take advantage of all that your community has to offer, make sure that you are making a contribution as well. True leaders begin by example, and their influence can spread much further than you would think. If every person that benefited from community events would volunteer at just one event, more people could enjoy them. An active community is a loving and supportive community.

Organizations at which people volunteer need to understand why people are so reluctant to volunteer and make it easy as possible, and fun for people to get involved. Volunteers benefit the community, but they themselves should also be benefited by the community.

Now, it’s time for your thoughts

What do you think are hindrances to volunteering? What would make it easier for you to step up and lead a volunteer group?

 Shawn has a Masters in Leadership and devoted 15 years to   wilderness leadership expeditions as a senior instructor with the National Outdoors Leadership School and other international organizations. His skill for fostering powerful teams has made him an international speaker, workshop leader, business consultant, and author of bestseller TEAMS ON THE EDGE: Stories and Lessons from Wilderness Expedition. Follow him on TwitterFacebook, or Google Plus