I believe that if we want to really engage people to serve, we need to connect people to what they are passionate about.
I have proposed this idea many times and find that whether the audience is a ballroom full of Rotarians or a conference room of corporate leadership teams, people pretty much agree with this idea. We can all think of people who have launched, led or contributed to powerful change efforts who connected with the mission because it connected them to something they were passionate about.
And in our Rotary projects, it's the same. We can ask our members to get involved. And out of a sense of duty, the desire for social connection or even out of pure pursuit of fun, people sign up and show up to get the work done. And so long as we keep it fun and interesting, support for a project might continue. But when we take the time to find out what people are really passionate about, we fully engage their energy; we give them an opportunity for real self-expression. We don't have to push or beg for help. More often, it feels like we have to hold those people back! For me, volunteering for ShelterBox is like that.
But what about those whom we serve? How do we create lasting change? In this TED talk, Ernesto Sirolli proposes that the way to make lasting change is to ask the people we serve what they need. Rather than show up with our notion of "best practices," what about asking a few questions first? What about finding out what really matters to the people we are trying to help?
We can only help people who want our help.
So today's question is, in your club's service efforts, ask yourself: Are we making a difference, or just feeding the hippos?