This past September was Amazon’s Global Month of Volunteering. In Australia, Amazon employees took part in the event, hosting 43 volunteering initiatives that ranged from cooking meals for OzHarvest and making hundreds of sandwiches for St Vincent de Paul Society’s hunger relief van, to raising more than $100,000 for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance through the Steptember walking challenge and related volunteering activities.
Amazon Australia’s Amazon In The Community lead Charlotte Richardson, who headed the event in Australia, says the connection to Amazon’s non-profit partners and the chance to meet the charities’ beneficiaries inspired many of her colleagues and provided a better understanding of just how beneficial volunteering can be.
“We know that volunteering promotes a sense of wellbeing,” she said. “We always have strong, positive feedback from people having that experience of doing something meaningful—hearing about the non-profits and connecting with their peers about something that is bigger than themselves.”
Ahead of the holiday season of giving, here are five of Richardson’s top learnings from this year’s Global Month of Volunteering events.
#1 Don’t let a sense of commitment get in the way
“Don’t be afraid to volunteer for just an hour or so,” shared Richardson. “You can make a difference and add real value without donating heaps of your time.”
#2 Being thoughtful about what you donate makes a difference
When choosing items to donate, especially in disaster relief, Richardson says providing “dignified support” is very much appreciated by recipients—think good quality, sustainable and responsibly sourced products from small suppliers that show the items have been carefully and lovingly selected.
#3 Meeting the people you’re helping builds connection
During this year’s Global Month of Volunteering, Richardson was reminded of just how compelling it was for volunteers to hear directly from the non-profits about the impact of their work, and from ambassadors affected by conditions like cerebral palsy. “Having that connection to the cause is really powerful,” she said.
#4 Volunteering is a great platform for networking
“It’s good for people in the early stages of their career to get to know their peers and to have the opportunity to speak with leaders,” noted Richardson. The Global Month of Volunteering events, for example, provided a platform for Amazonians to connect with other people from across the business in all kinds of roles.
#5 You get more support when you organise events that are easy to join
Making an event accessible definitely increases participation, Richardson said. For example, an event to pack sandwiches for St Vinnies was really popular because the volunteers didn’t have to travel and could make a difference simply by donating their lunch hour. “Providing people with opportunities to suit their timetables and bringing those opportunities to them is impactful.”
With non-profits often in need of volunteers, Richardson recommends that volunteers “spread the love and get the word out” to create a movement of giving back, which can be as easy as bringing a friend to a charity event or simply telling someone about what a fulfilling experience volunteering can be.
To learn more about how Amazon is contributing to the community, visit https://www.aboutamazon.com.au/news/community.