“If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness. By giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.”
As we celebrate national volunteer week, I am reminded of the above quote from a sermon given by Dr. Martin Luther King. At The Pollination Project, we are the beneficiaries of this kind of greatness– the kind that flows from service– every single day.
Our paid staff team is quite lean, yet we receive an average of 6,000 applications each year. In the past, this has caused some to wonder how we can possibly screen, fund, and support the immense volume of seed funding applications we receive each day. The secret is that The Pollination Project is supported by a veritable volunteer army of love. Nothing we do would be possible without the volunteers who prescreen each application. We are so grateful for Mary Connors, Philip Banda, Nancy Myers, Emmanuel Ogwel, Michael Abdullahi, Mohini Sharma, and Ayodele Ayeni, who review each and every proposal to make sure it has all the necessary information for our team of grant advisors to make a thoughtful, informed funding decision.
Our prescreening volunteers pass the applications on to our team of volunteer grant advisors, too numerous to list here (check out this section of our website if you are interested in reading biographies and learning a little more about our advisors). These advisors, most of whom are former grantees themselves, know exactly what it takes to plan and lead a successful grassroots volunteer project. Their service is precious to us because they are the most qualified people to do this important work.
After our advisors make funding decisions, they are able to welcome new members of The Pollination Project community, each of whom is an individual working on a volunteer-led grassroots project. Working at the individual level ensures that those most directly impacted by a community’s challenges are empowered to solve them. Projects led by grassroots leaders inspire additional volunteer support, as those in the community have more ownership in a project and a stronger interest in supporting their local leaders.
Our changemakers attract roughly 138 hours of volunteer time for their projects after receiving seed funding. Based on recent estimates about the hourly value of volunteer work, our community has unleashed over $15 million in volunteer leadership in service of grassroots causes around the world, over three times the $6 million our advisors have given in seed grants.
In sharing the gift of time, our volunteers share a gift of love that creates space for hope, possibility and transformation. With heart and dedication to service, they help to move projects forward.
From all of us at The Pollination Project, we extend our sincere thanks to each volunteer for sharing their time, talent and radiant heart. Each of you are a treasured co-conspirator in compassion, and we are so grateful.