Reviewed: Spirit of Service – Your Daily Stimulus for Making a Difference

Occasionally we receive advance copies of new releases on volunteering, volunteer recruitment and management, and making a difference. See them all in our Reviews section. Got a book, magazine, DVD, or Web site you’d like us to review? Send it to us at or Editors, VolunteerMatch Reviews, 717 California St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94108.

Spirit of ServiceSpirit of Service, an intriguing and well-written new offering from HarperOne, is a terrific addition to the bookshelf or desk of anyone who cares about our communities.

Inspired by President Obama’s call to action, the book contains 365 readings about lending a hand in some service capacity – often as a volunteer with an organization.

That’s a lot of ways to make a difference, so to help make sense of all the opportunities in the book, Spirit of Service is organized as a “devotional,” which means it’s ideally meant to  be read one short passage at a time.

Inside, the opportunities have been grouped into seven key themes: Money, Energy, Focus, Influence, Compassion, Support, and Passage. Echoing the daily devotional format, each theme is represented by a different day of the week. Tuesday is about Energy, for example (“Energy translates into action….), and Thursday is about Influence (“Each of us has much more influence than we think we do….).

The devotional format works perfectly. Given the subject matter, which is so different from page to page, and often touching for varying emotional reasons, this format works great – and the length of each piece is just right for a daily reminder about the amazing array of ways of making a difference. (You can browse inside it here.)

Within the book’s theme areas, the causes it touches upon represent the entire range of conscious service,  including the environment, human rights, elder care, youth services, hunger relief, animal conservation, troop support, green living, the arts, literacy, historic preservation, civic participation, and more. Many of America’s most recognized organizations are present, but again so are many other regional and grassroots groups. And why not: with 365 days of reading, there’s room enough to cover a great cross section of the service community.

Some examples:

  • Interview a veteran (Veterans History Project)
  • Calculate your family’s carbon footprint (Save The Manatee Club)
  • Volunteer as an archeologist on your next vacation (Passport in Time Clearinghouse)
  • Start a socially-conscious investment club (Green Money Journal)

Like many of the recent publications related to service, the book helps solve two of the more persistent issues that potential volunteers and activists face. One, that they might want to contribute to improving the world but don’t think they have enough time, money, or energy. And two, that some folks want to give back but aren’t sure how. This is a book that really can help folks get started on the journey.

Also great: The publisher has put up a terrific Web site with essays, inspiration, and cool extras like ecards and stickers. They’ve also installed VolunteerMatch’s SearchLite widget, making it possible for visitors to search for volunteer opportunities directly from the book’s promotional site.

Learn more about Spirit of Service.

One Comment