As an association professional, you likely work with volunteers every day through committees, task forces and boards. You’ve recruited them, motivated them, encouraged them, coached them and thanked them. Have you thought about joining them?
In 2011, according to the Federal Agency for Service and Volunteering, Americans volunteered a total of almost 8 billion hours, an estimated economic value of roughly $171 billion. During the same year, Indiana residents volunteered an average of 29 hours per resident for an estimated $3.1 billion of service contributed statewide. According to ASAE’s 2008 publication The Decision to Volunteer, the top reason cited for volunteering “a desire to help others and create a better society. While association members expect career benefits from their professional volunteering, they are also interested in contributing to a larger cause, such as building a stronger profession”.
Why should YOU volunteer? Here are five ways that you can benefit by volunteering in the association community:
- Volunteering allows you to build your network and strengthen your skills. Whether you’re on the market for your next position or you simply want to meet new people to benefit from the collective wisdom of a dedicated group, volunteering is a great way to learn from like-minded individuals. A new study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research even found that unemployed people who volunteer are 7% more likely to find a job than those who don’t.
- When you volunteer, you are taking a positive step toward strengthening your organization’s brand in the industry. How many times has a company’s involvement with your professional association influenced a business decision? Name recognition matters. (Tip: Remember to add your volunteer affiliation to your “Volunteer Experience and Causes” section on LinkedIn.)
- And, of course, as a volunteer, you have the opportunity to give back to the industry that supports you. It’s not a secret that being involved in your professional association is a fantastic way to increase the return on your membership investment. When we contribute as individuals, the whole benefits.
If you already volunteer with ISAE, I encourage you to continue your involvement into 2014. If you aren’t volunteering, please take a moment to check out the volunteer opportunities at http://www.isae.org/volunteer-opportunities and to ask questions of the sitting committee chairs. You can find out what makes your professional association hum and learn how you can personally support the profession by participating on a committee in 2014. The benefit far outweighs the risk.
Author: Melissa Heeke, CAE, Midwest Political Science Association
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Indiana Society of Association Executives (ISAE).