21 June 2015
This morning I gave my twenty-fifth "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester.
It was prompted by the phrase "What's in it for me?" which I recalled from a presentation at a Price Waterhouse partners meeting in 1998 to discuss our planned merger with Coopers & Lybrand to form PricewaterhouseCoopers. That meeting was about a commercial transaction, namely the merger.
However some recent experiences have made me focus on the point that there are many personal benefits from helping others, even though the primary goal of volunteering is simply to help others with no thought of reward.
There is a question which sounds cynical.“What’s in it for me?” Perhaps something a miser like Ebenezer Scrooge might ask.
Religion tells us to help others, with no thought for ourselves. That is what charity is supposed to be about. However the truth is that there is almost always something in it for us.
At the simplest, most religions believe that being charitable and helping others gets you Brownie points with God. That may help you in the afterlife. However there are far more immediate benefits from doing good deeds.
Before the general election, a friend of mine spent many days delivering leaflets for her political party. Democratic politics in our country would be much poorer without such voluntary effort. However it was also good for her. The fresh air and many days of walking made her fitter and helped her to lose weight. Those are real benefits for her.
I regularly give mentoring time, completely free, to younger professionals. It has helped people to get much better jobs, and to give their careers direction. I do it as an act of charity. However every time I have a mentoring discussion, I come away having learned something more about myself and with new ideas of how to be more personally effective. Those are real benefits for me.
The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. In that time, we have helped to make Greater Manchester a better place for everyone. However, while doing it, we have had fun, and made new friends. If we didn’t enjoy doing it, most of us would have given up long ago.