I spent 7 years in the British military (Royal Navy) and as any seasoned sailor (matelot) will tell you, one thing you NEVER do is volunteer. It took me a long time to unlearn that unfortunate lesson!
The reality is that volunteering is an important aspect in anybody’s development and the earlier that people get involved the better. In our Canadian high schools it is mandatory that students log a minimum number of “volunteer hours” (40 I believe). Obviously for many kids this is just another “thing” to get out of the way, but for some it is a first taste of the rewards of volunteering.
I sit on the National Board of my industry association and devote a lot of time towards efforts that will improve our industry, protect the industry from unfortunate legislation and raise the bar amongst its practitioners. It is a big commitment, on top of my day job, but to be able to have a positive affect on our industry is very rewarding.
I have served on several charitable boards and most recently joined a major gifts committee for the United Way here in Ottawa. I don’t do these things because I am short of things to do with my time! I know that my business could make good use of that time too. So why do I volunteer time … a resource that I cherish?
Here are some of my reasons …
1. Somebody has to do it. Non-profit organizations would not exist if it were not for volunteers.
2. I get satisfaction from making a positive difference.
3. I get to meet like-minded individuals. Good personally and good from a business networking perspective.
4. I bring diversity to my world. The volunteer position uses some of the same skills I use day in and day out, but also requires other skills which is a welcome change.
5. I learn from others and from the new experiences.
6. If the organization you volunteer with is important to you then its success will benefit you (like our industry association).
In addition I would suggest that volunteering is great way to advance your career, primarily because of all of the above.
Get involved and see for yourself!