Columnist finds inspiration in TED Talks on volunteering

TED Talks that speak to her

On social media on Fridays, I share TED and TEDx talks I’ve found that relate to volunteering and the social impact sector.

Not all of them are specifically aimed toward our sector, but even the ones talking about business have clear applications to working with volunteers. Today, in no particular order, I’d like to share a double handful of my favourites and why I love them.

A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter – Mark Bezos

Not only is Bezos a superb and humorous storyteller, this talk has some vital lessons for both volunteers and leaders of volunteers. Especially about the impact of little things.

The power of appreciation – Mike Robbins

In this TEDx talk, Robbins shares stories that illustrate the importance of appreciation. Not just when things are going well, but it’s even more vital when things are rough.

The puzzle of motivation – Dan Pink

In this funny and insightful talk, Pink shows us how we might just be going about motivating people the wrong way. He also provides much more effective ways. Our sector is strong in providing Purpose for volunteers, but how well are you doing on the others?

Everyday leadership – Drew Dudley

I’ve watched this TEDx talk at least twice a year since it came out. For all the talks about leaders and leadership that there are, Dudley’s is the one that speaks to me the most. He demonstrates that leadership isn’t about big things, but about the impact that we can make every day in people’s lives, one lollipop at a time.

Helping others makes us happier – but it matters how we do it – Elizabeth Dunn

Although Dunn’s talk tends to focus on giving money, her conclusions point directly to the benefits of giving time. To gain happiness from giving, we need to see a direct connection with the result. As she says, “We have evolved to find joy in helping others.” Volunteering is the best way to do that.

How to motivate people to do good for others – Erez Yoeli

Yoeli provides some practical and (reasonably) easy-to-implement ideas for encouraging people to volunteer, and to help their community in other ways.

Why some people are more altruistic than others – Abigail Marsh

This is a fascinating talk about how the way our brains are built affects the likelihood that we will help others. Marsh shares a compelling story about how someone with a lot of altruism saved her life, and put her on the path to the work she’s doing now.

How to build and rebuild trust – Francis Frei

There are a lot of talks out there about trust. This is, by far, the most practical and helpful one I’ve heard. Frei breaks down exactly how trust is built, broken and rebuilt, and what to watch for to shore it up if it starts getting shaky.

The counter-intuitive way to be more persuasive – Niro Sivanathan

This one may not seem at first glance a good fit for this list. However, if you’ve ever needed to advocate for yourself, your volunteer program, or volunteers, Sivanatha’s advice can make a big difference. Sometimes, less really is more.

The way we think about charity is dead wrong – Dan Pallotta

This is, in my opinion, the preeminent talk about our sector. Although focused on fundraising rather than volunteering, it is incredibly insightful, and turns so many accepted beliefs on their heads. Everyone – especially those outside the sector – needs to watch it. Pallotta illustrates clearly the vital importance of funding that disparaged portion of social impact organizations: “overhead”.

So these are my top 10. I hope you enjoy them.

Do you have any favourites? If so, send me any you think I should watch. I’m always on the lookout for talks I haven’t seen.

Thanks, and see you in the new year.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Karen Knight has provided volunteer recruitment, engagement and training for not-for-profit organizations for more than 25 years.

Her professional life has spanned many industries, working in both the private and public sectors in various leadership positions.

Through her passion for making a difference in the world, she has gained decades of experience in not-for-profits as a leader and a board member.

Karen served in Toastmasters International for more than 25 years, in various roles up to district director, where she was responsible for one of the largest Toastmasters districts in the world.

She oversaw a budget of $250,000 and 300 individual clubs with more than 5,000 members. She had 20 leaders reporting directly to her and another 80 reporting to them—all volunteers.

Karen currently serves as vice-president of the board of directors for the Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association.

After many years working and volunteering with not-for-profits, she found many leaders in the sector have difficulty with aspects of volunteer programs, whether in recruiting the right people, assigning those people to roles that both support the organization’s mission and in keeping volunteers enthusiastic.

Using hands-on experience, combined with extensive study and research, she helps solve challenges such as volunteer recruitment, engagement and training for not-for-profit organizations.

Karen Knight can be contacted at [email protected], or through her website at https://karenknight.ca/.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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