When you volunteer to help lead a membership organization, you benefit from the experience at least as much as the organization benefits from your service. What can you gain from volunteering? We asked the experts: professionals at organizations who work daily with member volunteers. Many of these professionals volunteer their time as well, holding leadership positions in the American Society of Association Executives & The Center for Association Leadership.
Here’s what they had to say:
LEADERSHIP TRAINING: Volunteering offers first-hand insights into how to effectively lead an organization. Directing volunteer leaders and staff, you can manage political situations and think strategically.
MAKE CONTACTS: Relationships can be extremely important in your professional life; what better way to build relationships than through a shared volunteer commitment? As one volunteer leader puts it: “The real value of volunteering is the network of colleagues and friends I have assembled over many years. It is a source of insight, inspiration and support for me.”
LEARNING LABORATORY: Volunteering gets you out of your day-to-day routine and lets you gain new perspective on problems and situations. You can explore, test and share ideas with colleagues, paving the way for fresh thinking and perspectives.
IDENTIFY CRITICAL ISSUES: One volunteer says his leadership role helped him learn about an important development in an Internal Revenue Service regulation that directly affected his organization.
BUILD A KNOWLEDGE NETWORK: Trading knowledge with colleagues can pay dividends when you learn what others are doing in their organizations that you can apply at your organization. Volunteering can shorten your learning curve by giving you access to sources of the most reliable and up-to-date information on issues that affect your profession.
SHAPE YOUR PROFESSION: What happens in your profession affects all who work in it. A consultant in the association profession says he wants “to make an impact on the profession and help move it in the right direction, “which in turn affects his own career. “I also want to ensure that certain projects and programs have a voice and are done correctly.”
STRENGTHEN YOUR RESUMÉ: People with strong values and abilities are usually those who serve in volunteer leadership roles. It looks great on a resumé and the experience gained through volunteering can position you as a valuable asset to any company or organization.