islamic organizations

Why No One Takes You Up on Your Offer to Volunteer

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I've been turned down as a volunteer, and turned down those who wanted to volunteer. I remember when I found a great cause and offered to volunteer for it, but I received no response whatsoever. They're probably just disorganized and bad at communicating like most Muslim organizations, right? I've also had the opportunity to work for some major Islamic organizations and was the point person who received requests from people who wanted to help out and volunteer. As particular as I was about replying to everyone who contacted us, these emails got pushed further and further down to the point where I barely replied to them.

The crux of the problem simply boils down to

  1. Not understanding how to communicate with busy people.
  2. Not knowing how to communicate your value.

When a person receives an email that says "I want to volunteer for your organization" it is usually a sincere offer from someone who wants to share in the cause of the organization. The person reading the email actually sees this request as "more work" because they now have to dedicate extra time to figure out a way to actually utilize this person.

If you want to volunteer for an organization, learn to communicate your value effectively. Use the following scripts as examples:

"I noticed that your organization doesn't have a formal logo, I would love to volunteer my design services and send over 3 prototypes for you to review. If you like them then great, if not, no big deal. I've also included a link to my portfolio as a reference so you can see the type of work I produce."

"I love what your organization is doing, I am also very interested in [the primary mission of said organization]. I'd like to volunteer my services if you have any needs. I'm not sure what exactly you need help with, but my background is in X, and I have previously done x,y,z tasks for a,b,c organizations."

It can even be as simple as: "I really love the work you all are doing and want to help out any way I can. I attend X masjid, and would be more than wiling to make announcements or hand out fliers for any upcoming programs you have."

This enables the person on the receiving end to immediately know if they have something they can plug you into or not. Unfortunately the most common volunteer offers are simply general, and they never pan out because the person volunteering doesn't know what they really want to do.

Be specific about how you can help and add value in your communication. This way, even if they don't have an immediate need, when one arises they will remember you because you gave them enough detailed information that they already know you can help and exactly where you fit in.

 

The Secret To Good Decision Making

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Every Islamic organization struggles with tough decisions. Should we host a particular event? Invite a particular speaker? Hire a certain person? Buy this land? Rent a facility? The sad thing is that in Islamic work, the secret to good decision isn't really a secret. It's just a lost art. Or rather, an abandoned sunnah.

Chalk this one up to another common sense thing that's not so common. We can't fool ourselves into thinking we are doing religious work when we don't have the wherewithal to actually take the spiritual guidance that actually ensures we make the right choices.

I'd go so far as to say anyone who is in any kind of leadership role is violating the trust of leadership if istikharah is not a standard part of their decision making process.

Should we have a conference? Make istikharah.

Should we hire this person as our imam? Make istikharah.

Should we build our masjid in this location? Make istikharah. 

Not sure if you should dedicate your time volunteering for a particular cause? Make istikharah. 

Should we let a particular person volunteer to do something? Make istikharah. 

If you need more information about what istikharah is, or how to perform it (it is just 2 units of voluntary prayer followed by a short supplication), then check out this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEcovFTsQ4E&hd=1