What’s so special about volunteering and why can’t we get enough of doing good stuff for free?

TEDxLondon is an organisation run entirely by volunteers. As we celebrate International Volunteer Day, we’re throwing the spotlight on some of the stories behind the magic that helps us build diverse and inclusive communities.

14.2 million people in the UK formally volunteer at least once a month. That’s close to double the population of London, clocking up an average of 11.6 hours every month for regular volunteers and giving a staggering £22.6 billion in economic value.

No one at TEDxLondon gets paid a salary, but the team is deeply committed, creative and passionate about delivering uplifting, thought-provoking, events. We don’t call it a ‘Tribe’ for nothing!

With tight deadlines and high standards, each new TEDxLondon event brings exciting challenges as well as endless possibilities and opportunities. The first question is always: how are we going to pull this off? The answer is simple – help – and plenty of it.

A diverse bunch of 30 individuals make up the TEDxLondon leadership team and we work to create experiences inspired by TED and the city we love. Fuelled only by passion, we are from the worlds of architecture, finance, IT, journalism, charity, tech, design and everything in between.

Our mission is to encourage dialogue and engagement, create inclusive spaces and foster debate and discussion that continues long after the final bow has been taken.

As a non-profit, we’re conscious of marrying the responsibility of delivering a quality event with our deeply held values of respect, collaboration and showing up to audiences with the wider TEDxLondon family. This family includes over 200 volunteers who collectively make up our ‘Tribe’ – the glue that holds us together when it’s time to run our live events. At our most recent event, TEDxLondonWomen, over 100 Tribe members volunteered between 10 and 29 hours each over the course of the weekend – that’s around 1,700 hours of collective Tribe work!

 

What do we get in return? Only a lucky few are able to say they are part of an organisation that creates a climate of openness, fairness and respect for all. When we get together, it’s not quite the United Nations, but if feels pretty close. None of the shackles of a traditional work hierarchy exist and as TEDxLondon Director and Curator, Maryam Pasha says: “This is one place where competing against your colleagues doesn’t work.”

Being part of the team also gives access to one of the best skill-sharing spaces around. By day you’re a chartered accountant, but in the TEDx world, everyone knows you have a flair for stage management! As our Volunteer Director, James Lloyd says: “All of us here have our fingers in many pies outside of TEDxLondon. Our work is another part of our personal and professional journeys.”

So for those of you who have wondered how it works and why we do it, there it is. Just a group of enthusiastic and committed people, drawn together through a shared ambition of wanting to be part of the change for good.

If you’ve been inspired to join our TEDxLondon Tribe, you can sign up to our waitlist via our website.

 

Images Credit: Jason Wen