NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
Giving vs Taking
by Don Singleton, Director, APCUG, January 2002
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Membership in your local User Group offers a wonderful opportunity to learn more about computers. With practically no effort on your part, other than attending a meeting, you can sit and watch a very good program, presented by a knowledgeable speaker, and frequently you also get an opportunity to participate in a raffle or door prize drawing where you have a chance to win a nice program for your computer. Even if you don't want to come to meetings, membership gets you a copy of the monthly newsletter, which contains information about upcoming meeting programs, some of which you may decide you want to attend. It also contains technical articles, reviews, and other news to read at your leisure.

But your local User Group also offers an opportunity to get a lot more out your membership than you can possibly get by being passive. It offers the opportunity for you to become an active participant, and give something of your self (time, effort, knowledge, etc.) to benefit others. The inner satisfaction and rewards one gets from helping others are truly amazing.

People frequently point to the 80/20 rule, which is found in many aspects of life; for example, 20% of the people in an organization will do 80% of the work, while the remaining 80% of the people collectively do 20% of the work. Well, there is a further application of the 80/20 rule: the active 20% doing the work, are getting 80% of the pleasure out of the club, and the passive 80% get only 20% of the pleasure.

I encourage you to think about this for just a few minutes. Is there something that you could do to help others, so that you can see whether or not I am right? You will certainly see that the returns from investing that effort to help others far outweighs the investment. Can you give just a little bit of your time, doing whatever you do best? Perhaps that is:

    Making a few phone calls to try to arrange something we need (speakers for a SIG, a meeting place for a SIG, advertising for the newsletter, etc.)

    Trying out a new computer program, and then writing a review of it for the newsletter, sharing what you liked and did not like about the program, so that other members can benefit from your experiences.

    Spending a little time in a one-on-one basis with a new member who just got a computer, or who just got a new program for his computer, and who is completely lost trying to figure out how to make it work.

    Donating some of your time to help church workers, or workers in some charitable organization, who are having trouble getting the most out of their computers.

    Spending a few hours sitting in a booth at a computer show, telling people that stop by the booth what your local User Group has to offer.

    Presenting a program to your user group, or to another user group in town.

    Speaking to a class in the public school system, telling them how computers are used in real life, and possibly sparking that interest that encourages them to work harder to learn how to use computers, or speaking to a group of public school teachers, teaching them things they don't know about computers, to better enable them to teach their students.

    Leading, or helping to lead, a special interest group, enabling UG members interested in a particular subject or program, to get together and share their experiences with others that have that same interest.

    Joining us in the UG's Refurbishing Computers project, to help recondition old computers to be donated to some worthy non-profit agency, or other worthy recipient.

    Spending some time adapting computers to aid the handicapped, so that a quadriplegic confined to bed or a wheelchair, and totally dependent on others, gains some control over his own life, whether it is something as simple as being able to turn the TV on and off without help from someone else, or whether it is a powerful as being able to communicate his thoughts, wishes, and ideas, when previously he may have been unable to seriously communicate with the outside world.

The elected officers, and the Special Interest Group leaders are all wonderful people, since most of them are Givers, rather than Takers. It is a real pleasure interacting with this group of generous UG Members, and they do a number of things to help make UG successful for the rest of the membership. But they can only do so much. There are many things that could be done, but are not currently being done, and I would be willing to bet your UG's President cannot in good conscience ask these Givers to give even more. Not that they would not accept the responsibility; they probably would, but he/she would run the risk of burning them out. What your President needs is a few more people to become Givers.

If you would be interested in helping your local User Group in any particular way, please let your President know. Things get pretty hectic at a meeting, so just mentioning your interest runs a risk that he/she may forget it when someone after you brings up something else entirely. But if you would write down your name, phone number, and the particular skills you have which you think your local User Group might be able to use, and perhaps an indication of the amount of time you would be able to devote each month, and either bring this to a meeting, or mail it to your President, he/she will do everything possible to match you up with a job you can handle, and you can start reaping the rewards of being a Giver.

And if your UG President can't find enough to keep you busy, contact president@apcug.org, and I bet Dan can find some committee in APCUG that could really use your help.

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