Humanity, Empathy, Compassion and Volunteerism…How to Pay it Forward and Get Immediately Paid Back



This last weekend, I had a great experience that I wanted to share with those of you reading here. DallasGiveCamp is a philanthropic event in which non-profits are selected to acquire technical assistance from teams of volunteer developers, project managers, UX designers, business analysts and technical gurus. Every year, a mass DallasGiveCamp event is held that brings all the charities and all the volunteers together to knock out some serious hours, product and good will. Before I use this as a platform to further write this post, I encourage you to visit to see what this is about. The experience was very eye-opening, both from a giving and a receiving perspective. I also need to call out the tremendous job the organizers did to pull in teams of volunteers, facility and support logistics, and all around great people to make it all happen.

I’m writing this, because of some things that I recognized I was experiencing as part of what started as a volunteer undertaking. I’m writing this, Continue reading “Humanity, Empathy, Compassion and Volunteerism…How to Pay it Forward and Get Immediately Paid Back”

because in my mentoring of other business analysts, it’s common that I will guide a person to seek volunteer opportunities to help an organization succeed while also practicing the craft of business analysis. Trust me, I’m no stranger to volunteerism, but I realized this weekend that the practice of volunteering is more than just honing a BA technique on a company desperate for help. I realized that the exposure to the struggles of people allowed me to also work on my empathy and compassion in how I form, refine and interact in relationships with others.

Hear. Better yet, Listen.

The representative charity that I work with had its story, but it’s not atypical, I’m sure, from what the other charity leads were sharing with the other teams. Across town from where I live, another world has children struggling not just with family dysfunction, not just with hunger, not just with poverty, not just with existence vs education…but all of this at once. There are brave people leading efforts to do better in their goals to assist these families and individuals with what they need by having the guts to stand up and ask for help from those like myself who have something to give. I heard a few stories that slapped me aware hard enough to realize that I really needed to listen to my customer, because her customers were counting on her for their own existence. I asked uncomfortable questions about another culture, race, lifestyle, etc. at a time when asking these things has powerful consequences if not handled properly. So I practiced hard, and on the spot, my empathetic listening, vocalizing, and body-language presentation that ensured my questions were understood as a means to help through comprehension of the needed answers. I wanted my understanding to translate into benefit for this charity.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” 
— Mahatma Gandhi

Compassionate Will Breeds Action

The people that formed these teams came together en masse out of compassion for others and a willingness to give something to another person. I haven’t mentioned that the DallasGiveCamp 2017 event lasted from 5pm Friday night thru late late Sunday afternoon. Many people worked over 15 hours both Saturday and Sunday (I cannot claim that myself) to churn out analyzed, managed, coded and tested solutions to help the various charities achieve their own goals. I learned by participating that while I had something to offer, as well, I selfishly absorbed the lessons in humanity that showed huge positive effects on the charities and on each other, as we worked together. I learned that no matter how much I work to do better work in the workplace, it’s rare that those efforts can readily translate to have the kind of direct impact I witnessed, until I get out of the workplace.

I am so glad that I did. Give volunteerism a try. There are so many types and so many needs, we can’t possibly go wrong helping one another….and in doing that, you just might help yourself.