Over the past 10 years of my career, one thing has been constant… I have volunteered with some outstanding non-profit organizations. It’s been a labor of love and I’d like to share with you a few of the many valuable lessons I’ve learned through the years.
1.) There are two things you must do constantly – Fundraise and Recruit Good People
– Fundraising is more than just asking people for money. It’s establishing partnerships and figuring out what benefits both parties. At its core, it’s relationship building.
– Good people = people who are passionate about the cause and willing to give their time, energy and passion to moving the cause forward. They are also accountable and reliable.
2.) Say thank you – whether it is hand written notes, or simply saying “thanks for taking the time to do this”… Go out of your way to acknowledge volunteers. This is pretty much the only thing they’ll get out of their involvement aside from their personal satisfaction.
3.) Be kind to all contributors and volunteers – “A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gal. So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey which catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the highroad to his reason” Abraham Lincoln
4.) Think big – I truly believe that ANYTHING is possible. There are only two things standing between you and your loftiest goals – Resources and Will… If you are committed enough, it will get done. Be unstoppable and expect adversity. Adversity will only build your will.
5.) Don’t be afraid to ask and keep asking – eventually someone will say yes. Then you can move on to the next ask.
6.) Make sure your personal goals align with the organizations – If they aren’t aligned your involvement and your commitment will not be sustainable.
7.) Nonprofits are at very best 3rd on the list of volunteers priorities – Family and work come first, understand this and support this. Volunteers will love you for it.
8.) Make goals and a plan to achieve them – Get buy in and allow people to embrace how they can contribute to the outcomes. Celebrate all outcomes, big and small. Always be in action towards your goals. If you fail to meet your goal, set a new goal. Remember to keep goals simple, measurable and attainable.
9.) Make it fun – If it’s not fun, you shouldn’t be doing it
10.) Everyone involved matters – every volunteer matters, make sure everyone has a role and is held accountable. The rest will take care of itself.
My mother taught me at an early age that we all have special gifts and we should share them and support those that need it most. For me, being involved in non-profits and their various causes have given me purpose. Purpose above my career and above my personal life. It’s broadened my impact on the world. At the end of the day, I believe we all want to leave the world a better place. Volunteering and leading in the non-profit world is a great opportunity to do this.
Through nonprofits I have grown as a leader and as a person. The experiences and relationships I have built through my involvement mean the world to me. I hope you have the same opportunity in your life.
Please share your stories of involvement or great non-profits below.
Here are some resources to help you along your non profit journey.
Great resources if you’re looking for an opportunity near you:
Volunteers of America – http://www.voa.org/Landing.aspx
Big brothers and big sisters – http://www.bbbs.org/
Volunteer match – http://www.volunteermatch.org/
Top 100 nonprofits – http://topnonprofits.com/lists/best-nonprofits-on-the-web/
Nonprofit Leadership resources:
Board source – https://www.boardsource.org/eweb/
Council of nonprofits – http://www.councilofnonprofits.org/resources/resources-topic/boards-governance/board-development
How to develop yourself as a nonprofit leader – http://www.bridgespan.org/Publications-and-Tools/Career-Professional-Development/DevelopMyself/How-to-Develop-Yourself-Nonprofit-Leader.aspx
Nonprofits close to my heart:
Future City Competition – Central Pennsylvania – http://futurecity.org/pennsylvania-central
USGBC Central Pennsylvania – http://www.usgbc-centralpa.org
Harrisburg Young Professionals – http://www.hyp.org
Youth Build – http://www.youthbuild.org
Habitat for humanity – http://www.habitat.org