We hold these three principles steadfast within our organization:
Stay fully volunteer-run.
ServiceSpace was founded by volunteers and is run by volunteers. There is no paid staff, no office, and no central facilities. All ServiceSpace programs are conceived, designed, implemented, and administered by people who selflessly give their time so that others can benefit from those services.
Based on twelve years of our experience with a volunteer-run infrastructure, we've developed a streamlined process that structures projects in a distributed and decentralized manner. This allows more volunteers to give small chunks of time and still deliver high quality services to the end-receiver.
Being volunteer-run also allows us to organically self-organize. Instead of hierarchies and prefabricated business plans, our volunteer infrastructure is dynamic, low-cost and open to radical change. Everything is based on relationships and presence, and that creates a powerful context to BE the change.
We continue to be amazed at what inspired and dedicated individuals can do. Margaret Mead eloquently said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does." We could not agree more.
Serve with whatever we have.
We have chosen a slightly different path than most organizations, and choose not to focus on fundraising, grants, or other sources of revenue - for example, none of our websites contain any advertisement. All services are distributed are gifted without any fees. Thus, we serve with whatever support and resources that come in organically when people are truly moved to give.
ServiceSpace projects are built within a gift-economy system, an economic system in which goods and services are given freely, rather than traded. In a traditional market economy, one's wealth is increased by saving. In a gift economy, giving leads to increase: an increase in connections and relationship strength.
Our services are given freely, without asking for anything in return. Instead of scarcity and fear for an uncertain future, our second principle roots us in abundance and trust. We have realized that over time, if you serve with pure intentions, people's cups of gratitude overflow. They don't give to fulfill a need, they give as an expression of their own solidarity and joy. These genuine gifts, no matter how small or large, are what sustains us.
Focus on the small.
Our attempt is to do "small acts with great love". As our tagline says, "Change Yourself, Change the World." If we started out by having a goal to change the world, we might have been a little disappointed in our abilities; when we start with ourselves, we notice that the ripples around us continue to get bigger and bigger and as more people try to do small acts, we have every potential to change the world.
Just as every tiny bit of a hologram contains information of the whole, we feel that paying attention to the process, to the present moment, gives us plenty of information to become instruments of a larger, systemic change.
This is how ServiceSpace makes things happen. But essentially the engine that drives the organization is inspiration, pure and simple. We learn from each other, spur each other, help each other, and frequently amaze each other. Sure, we are stirred by the words and lives of great men and women like Gandhi and Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa; but the examples set by our ServiceSpace colleagues--everyday heroes--are the real sustaining forces behind our projects.
Generosity 2.0 is an article that details the systemic implications of building a movement in an Internet era.
ServiceSpace Founder Nipun Mehta speaks at Stanford about the the implications of its three values.
(*ServiceSpace was formerly known as CharityFocus)