Volunteering: Are You Part of the Pathetic Majority?

I stumbled upon a sad truth a week or so ago. While scrolling through my phone’s contact list to find a person willing to volunteer 3 hours of their day to help those less fortunate, I was coming up empty.

I finally found a taker, my good friend Representive Nick Zerwas, however the fact that I reached the letter “z” in my contacts before finding someone is what alarmed me the most. I like to think that my fiancé Annie Deckert and I have a wonderful and giving group of friends. Almost all of them volunteer in some capacity with regularity. If I was having this much trouble, how big of a problem is finding volunteers for the average American?

The typical responses you get from most professionals are; “I’m too busy,” or “I just don’t have time,” or even the dreaded “I already volunteered for such and such last month.” I myself have even been guilty of using one of those excuses at different points in my life, so I understand the thought process and the justification. That being said, I thought I would put this problem into context for everyone…maybe even cause a few of you to do some soul-searching.

Being as I chose social media as the forum to share my thoughts, I thought it would be appropriate to use social media statistics to illustrate my point. The BLS noted that 26.5% of Americans engaged in volunteering activities over a one year period. Now, standing alone that statistic actually doesn’t look all that bad. Over a quarter of us are giving our time to a cause free of charge!

Hold that thought though. A whopping 67% of American’s use social media according to Edison Research. Combine that withIpsos Open Thinking Exchange (OTX)research showing the average American spends over 3 hours per day engaging with social media and you have a very pathetic truth.

On average, we as Americans can find more than 21 hours per week to socialize via electronic devices, yet scoff at the idea of carving out 3 hours that same week to help others. What’s more sad is that according to the same research, business owners and c-suite executives spend even MORE time on social media, and an even lower percentage find time to volunteer. How can many of us call ourselves leaders and role models with such skewed values?

I want to challenge each and every one of you to take a few hours away from your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter activity this week. Spend that time volunteering…ANYWHERE! A school, Boys and Girls Club, a local food shelf, heck…teach some senior citizens how to connect with their families with social media! Volunteers are needed in many places, you are guaranteed to find something that fits your schedule and comfort level.

Post your time commitment and the organization you will be volunteering for in the comments below. That way, we can all hold each other accountable. As leaders, let’s stop being pathetic. Make time for what truly matters. Your news feed can wait.