Volunteer Service for Beginners

 

Just do it!

Do you have an issue that’s close to your heart? If you have some free time, and would rather spend it giving back and making a difference than binge-watching your whole life away, consider volunteering and Board Service. Remember this quote by the ultimate do-er, Mahatma Gandhi:

“Indolence is a delightful but distressing state; we must be doing something to be happy.”

Folks of all ages have a lot to offer, no matter what you’re good at: accounting, event planning, fundraising, HR, there’s a spot for you out there, at a great organization where your service will be valued and appreciated. I love this article on what makes a great board member from The National Council of Nonprofits. Remember, the most important thing is to be grateful and enthusiastic about the opportunity to serve a cause that you really care about.

Ready to serve?

Here are some fantastic resources that can help steer you towards worthy organizations that are looking for volunteers, Board and Advisory Board members:

If you understand how organizations search for help, it makes it easier for you to find them, too. Linkedin is a perfect place to make the connection between your skills, hobbies, professional interests, and the needs of organizations in your area.

Your state’s association of nonprofits will have more information about which local organizations are currently searching to fill gaps in their board lineup.

Volunteer Match is a great source for a variety of opportunities and ways to help out, both short and long term.

Idealist is another spot to check out if you’re looking for local organizations that need help. Sometimes it’s a good idea to volunteer for an organization for a bit before you ask about board membership. That way, you can meet key players and get a better sense of how the organization operates, and figure out how you might be of most help to them.

The Rules

Not all volunteers are created equal. To be the best, follow these 3 simple rules:

It’s not about you.

When you volunteer, ask what the organization needs, rather than thinking first of how the experience will benefit you or your resume.

Show up!

If you sign up, be on time, consistent, and present. There’s work to be done, and organizations that are asking for help need active, energetic helpers.

Have respect.

This is a free time activity for you, but it’s someone else’s career. Respect employees’ time and effort, and defer to their expertise.

Wanna chat about nonprofit board service? Reach out to me on Twitter!

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