Why I Volunteer With KarmaTube

Posted by Birju Pandya on Jul 13, 2010
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Volunteering with CharityFocus in any capacity is an opportunity and an invitation.  CharityFocus provides the space from which one can more easily serve with ‘no strings attached.’  For many (myself included), it’s quite rare to do something with an intention of no strings attached, so being intrigued by this idea I’ve been volunteering with KarmaTube (a project of CharityFocus) for the last few years. 

Interestingly, while my intention wasn’t to receive anything in return for my involvement, I’ve found that much has come my way!  As a way to describe what can happen when results are not explicitly sought, here are the 5 most salient ‘benefits’ from volunteering with Karmatube: 

Knowing about the video content – Over the course of the last few years, KarmaTube volunteers have scouted and watched hundreds upon hundreds of inspiring videos.  This creates a connection to the content, especially when few others are aware of it.  Consequently, when I’m in a conversation about why my friend is unhappy at her job, I can easily reference and send some of the site content on positive psychology.

Shifting in mindset from watching video content – Interestingly, it is difficult to watch so many videos of people doing inspirational work without starting to feel it to be normal.  One starts to reorient the internal compass so that doing activities to help others is ‘default mode.’  This is ‘neuroplasticity,’ the brain actively rewiring itself based on the stimulus it receives.  Consequently, we start trying to learn from these activities and try them in our own daily life.

Expanding kindness creativity – In addition to simply watching and curating videos, KarmaTube volunteers also write actions (be-the-change’s or BTC’s) that the viewer can take if they are moved by what was seen.  From a volunteer perspective this is a huge opportunity to expand creativity in writing these BTC’s.  How often do you spend thinking of creative and specific ways to serve others?  As a KarmaTube volunteer, you do it explicitly at least a dozen times a week.

Focusing on process before results – Even though it just so happens that Karmatube viewership has grown like a weed, that was never the main intention.  The goal is to be clearer in values, write more insightful and usable BTC’s, highlight more inspiring videos and let the chips fall where they may.  This means videos that would generate a high viewership are sometimes not chosen because they don’t strongly capture the values of inspiration and service.

Supporting a team on the same journey – As Karmatube is entirely volunteer run, EVERYONE involved is at some level receiving all of these benefits.  The goal here is to be-the-change ourselves, which is quite different than volunteering for a fundraising gala where money is raised but moment-to-moment behavior isn’t shifted.  Since that is so explicit, the team supports each other on this humble path and we instantly have a group of ‘noble friends.’

While this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, it sheds light on much of what I’ve seen in the volunteer experience.  What’s more, as this activity can be done heavily on a laptop, the only thing I end up ‘missing’ is the occasional Seinfeld rerun as I’d rather be writing up videos anyway.

I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity to serve in this capacity as it is slowly changing me for the better.  Would love to read about what activities have changed you for the better in the comments.

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Comments (2)

  • Nipun wrote ...

    Birju, this is a great post. I think it's a very helpful practice to be reflective about the work you deeply care about.

    If I reflect on 'Why I Volunteer with CharityFocus', I might say:

    --to practice giving w/out any strings attached; and subsequently, to have no scarce resources and still experience a strong sense of abundance

    --to practice supporting other people's journeys, and experience the resulting benefits of compassion and patience permeate other parts of your life

    --to witness a cocoon of inspiration, that brings out the best in people and births synergies where sums of the parts is greater than the whole

    --to be part of a posse of 'noble friends' whose die-hard commitment to selflessness strengthens your own

    --to have a context that honors subtle acts of service, where the reward isn't just in the impact but in the inner transformation that precedes the outcome.

    I'm sure there's more, but that's what comes to mind right now. :)

  • Shannon wrote ...

    I like the be-the-change part added so the viewer can actually apply it.