The 80-20 rule, or Pareto principle, is a useful mechanism for understanding how things in the world of work – or play – play out.

When it comes to volunteering, I see this rule operating pretty accurately. I use the term of volunteering in the broadest sense possible. In my hometown, there are a number of voluntary bodies and helpers working for the community and its subsets. The thing is, you tend to see a lot of the same faces cropping up in a lot of these groups.

I suspect that 20% of the available people are doing 80% of the voluntary work that a given community needs fulfilling for it to operate satisfactorily. The remaining 20% is the 20% that does not get done. It’s the 20% that is owed to the community by the other 80%.