Monday, December 8, 2008

Why Every Young Professional Should Volunteer for a Non Profit

Non profits that serve disadvantaged youth in urban areas is a bit of a growing passion of mine. I've donated my time to two organizations that have missions that involve this population in the two years since I've graduated from college. But I believe that all young professionals can benefit from volunteering for a non profit that serves a cause they believe in for the following reasons:

Gives you an opportunity to take on a leadership role you may not be privy to if you are a junior staff member at you full time gig. Since I have been working professional for less than three years, I am still pretty low on the totem pole in my day job. I succeeded in getting "assistant" out of my job title, but I still have a supportive role to my superiors. I am able to take on a leadership role I would not yet be considered for because of my lack of work experience for the non profit I volunteer for. I am currently a member of a board of directors of a non profit that two friends started in my hometown and lead a committee that has duties that definitely translate to applicable work experience.

Gives you an opportunity to add meaningful work experience to your resume. I have developed writing samples and lead projects for both of the non profits I have volunteered for that are now on my resume. Doing things such as leading a committee, planning events, writing media and marketing materials, among other things definitely belong on my resume. Whatever your skills are: writing, planning events, designing websites, networking, fundraising, mentoring or teaching youth, cooking...you see where I'm going with this, we all have skills that could be very useful to a non profit organization and could also help move your career along.

Offers opportunities to network with seasoned professionals...this could translate to a job opportunity. Whenever I have the opportunity, I chat up professionals that I meet at conferences or other settings and tell them about what I am doing for the non profit. Sometimes seasoned professionals can be inspired to donate time or money or even mentor you so you can make a greater impact to the organization or cause you are volunteering for. I believe that networking is about helping each other out, not waiting to contact someone when you need something like a job, for more info about networking, I would suggest reading the book, Never Eat Alone which I had heard about from Ginger over at Girls Just Wanna Have Funds a few months back. Build these relationships now and they could later translate to a job or introductions to other professionals.

Makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Making a difference in your local community or on a national or global scale can make you feel good about yourself. Giving back is a good feeling you don't just have to save up for the holiday season, you can feel good about giving back any time of the year. Yes, I could probably find freelance gigs that pay me to do some of the things I do for the non profits, but making money is not what drives me to do what I do, its getting that warm, fuzzy feeling that I am making a difference (be it large or small) in someone's life.

4 comments:

fdiary said...

This is a great write-up. I work at a non-profit and we are constantly in search of for young professional volunteers. We have tried to tap the United Way Volunteer roster, but many seem quite picky about what they will do. Better still, if there are those who can serve on a non-profit board. There is also a great need for professional to act as volunteer on boards/committees or dedicate a year or two to serving as a board member.

fdiary said...

I forgot to mention that the person would have greater impact an feedback on the type of services that nonprofit agency provides to the community if they were elected to serve on a board.

Small Budget, Big Style Chick said...

I really enjoy being a board member of a non profit though it is not a commitment to take lightly.

I've heard that Idealist.org posts volunteer opportunities as well as jobs with non profits organizations.

Money Maus said...

This is fantastic! I really should volunteer. I have been trying to look into it. :)