Rethinking volunteerism: donating your comparative advantage | Mary Zhu | TEDxStanford

Over 90% of Americans report a desire to volunteer, but only 1 out of 4 actually do; in our culture, charity is often painted as a sacrifice of money, time, and even a career. As a result, there is a deep separation between doing good for the world and working towards our own goals. Volunteerism must be reinterpreted in a way that recognizes that these two objectives are in fact symbiotic. Rather than simply “giving up” time or money, what if everyone volunteered their skills through their “comparative advantage”? With such a vast diversity of talent across our generation, the impact we make may exceed all our preconceived constraints.

Mary Zhu is a student studying Computer Science for her B.S. and M.S. at Stanford. She founded her first nonprofit in high school by selling cakes to sponsor children in underserved communities. She is now the co-founder of Develop for Good, which connects volunteer engineers and designers to technical projects at nonprofits