How to Make Volunteerism Impactful and Meaningful

By Tuan Nguyen, heart-centered entrepreneur and philanthropist

“Above all clouds is the sun.”

When life feels stormy, I remember this quote. In these days of social distancing, everyone is feeling the storm. I feel it in my community, my home, and my body. From moment to moment, our feelings are being tossed around in the winds of today’s climate.

Then I remember, “above all clouds is the sun.” It helps me shift my focus. It helps me to remember that acts of kindness can burst through the clouds like sunlight, open people’s hearts, and provide inspiration and strength.

Volunteerism is the sun above the clouds. Every day, people all over the world are coming together to help any way they can without asking for anything in return. They’re asking themselves, “What can I do to help my family? What can I do to help my community? What can I do that will have a real impact?”

After 30 years of volunteerism on both a local and global scale, I believe there is a 3-element formula that makes volunteerism impactful:

Element 1: Do what you’re passionate about

The trick is to take notice of what you like doing (both at home and at work). It takes time and energy to drive this awareness, but when you do, something magical happens. It initiates a process that I call, “network effect of realization”, and it’s a positive circle. Once you see what you are passionate about, you can begin to connect with more people and resources about your interest. For example, when you realize you are a great cook, you begin to follow other great chefs. You see how they are helping people through cooking, and then you start brainstorming ways you can improve and help people, too. This effect builds in your mind over time. Soon, your mind will be full of more and more creative ways to build your skills and help people.

And no matter your skill or knowledge level, your passion can drive a massive ripple effect. For example, as a father of daughters, I’m passionate about learning how to style my girls’ hair. Sometimes I fail, but I don’t give up. I mention it to a few of my friends, and all of a sudden, I learn there is a group of fathers in my community interested in learning how to braid their daughters’ hair. Now, we have a support group where we can all learn together, which is massively helpful for single fathers.

What you’re passionate about might surprise you. Right now, people are discovering passions they never even knew they had. Some have discovered they love solving technical challenges for people setting up their home offices. Others are discovering they love injecting their communities with positive energy. For example, because of social distancing, people have found they have become passionate about making walks fun for everyone. Families have begun coming together to make walks more fun. They create a weekly list of items to place on their windows and post the list on their neighborhood social media page. Families can print it and gamify their walk with their kids. They share a picture of their kids and their completed checklist with each other and talk about their favorite pictures.

What are you passionate about? How can you use it to help others?

Element 2: Do something that brings people together for shared experiences

When people come together. they generate the power of shared experiences that exist within a home and the greater community. The power of shared experiences has been traditionally felt during movie premiers and at concerts and shows. It connects people and generates momentum, encouraging more people to get involved in a cause and thus strengthening it.

Our current global situation is a shared experience and of course, we see its powerful impact – including bringing you here to this article to learn how you can volunteer and support others at home and beyond. Something I started recently is challenging my friends to call one business they feel can contribute either a product or service to different community needs. Three of us were able to attract over 20,000 gloves donated to hospitals while other friends were able to solicit food donations to health care workers. A ripple effect began as my friends challenged their network of friends to do the same. The impact of sharing your experience and bringing even a handful of friends together can grow into dozens of people coming together for a cause.

How can you bring people together to accomplish something good?

Element 3: Do something that creates a common purpose

Understanding the reason why we do things fuels the shared experience for the ripple effect to go even further.

When a group of medical students offered to support seniors by walking their dogs for them, the common purpose among these students was to support at-risk populations with something they all loved – walking, dogs, and walking dogs! Now, these medical students were sharing an experience they were passionate about. The group’s sense of purpose fueled and sustained the effort.

Another example is the way that parents are coming together to support other parents with home learning. The common purpose of these parents is incredible. It is the love that they have for their children that connects conscious parents to ensure their children are not only learning but are enjoying the learning process as well.

I started a free online community that supports men across the globe. It’s an anonymous space for [men] to share some of their deepest concerns and supports them with a brotherhood of conscious men and experts who volunteer their time with their knowledge, tools, and resources.

This has grown to thousands of men across the globe simply through word of mouth. How? The common purpose is that we want to show up for our families, communities, and colleagues as a higher version of ourselves.

What common purpose can you contribute to in your community?

How to Get Started

When it comes to volunteerism, there is a tried and true formula to make your work more impactful than you could have imagined: Do what you’re passionate about, do something that brings people together for shared experiences, and do something that creates a common purpose.

Ask yourself now:

  • What am I passionate about? What skills and knowledge do I have that I can use to help? What drives the most creativity in me?
  • How can I drive passion and creativity in myself, my family, and community by creating shared experiences?
  • Do you have a volunteerism idea that seems to drive a sense of purpose within you? Is there an initiative out there with a purpose or goal that truly resonates with you?

On behalf of LifeSpeak and the greater community, thank you for your interest in volunteerism and learning how you can bring sunlight to your community and make the world a healthier and happier place. It truly is the most rewarding experience we can share. Make a difference today and see you in the community!

Tuan Nguyen is a purpose-driven, heart-centered entrepreneur, philanthropist, and three-time TEDx Speaker. He is the founder of HealthGenie, a multi-million dollar firm serving large private health organizations with financial advisory services, lead generation, and communications and leadership training. He runs a ‘bizdad’ tribe called DudeBuddha, an invite-only, anonymous community that supports fathers in growing businesses while building deeper connections with themselves and their families. Previously, he and his partners built and sold a software company and three online directories with offices across Canada that served over 100 cities. However, Tuan’s passion is bettering the community. He has coached and mentored thousands in finding their way to contributing to a worthy cause.