Leveraging Volunteer Opportunities for Career Growth

  • Posted on: 5 September 2017
  • By: mtucker@leaderc...

Leveraging Volunteer Opportunities for Career Growth

Todays professionals face reductions in mid-level career opportunities due in part to globalization and the proliferation of technology. Industry consolidation means fewer companies which leads to less growth and promotional opportunities for the career-minded professional. As you think about the next promotion, take a look at the opportunities that can set you apart from your colleagues or the Company’s new hire.

Volunteerism. For some the word elicits visions of more work, no pay and the erosion of your spare time. Volunteering offers a sense of accomplishment and the satisfaction of participating in something bigger than oneself. There are many types of organizations that need volunteers including civic associations, small nonprofits, trade associations or even local project-based opportunities.

For purposes of this discussion let’s focus on professional or member-based nonprofits and specifically on volunteering as a Board of Director or Committee Member. Serving on a Board opens the door to a variety of opportunities. The more obvious, expanding your professional network, honing skills, and leadership development. But the not so obvious benefit is creating leverage to advance your career.

To identify a nonprofit board, do your research. Head to the nonprofits website and review their mission statement. Does it resonate with you and your values? Who currently serves on the Board of Directors and what industry or company’s do they represent? A board that is made-up of Company CEOs may not appear to be a good fit if you are a Director, however, keep in mind that this board may need a more junior member to influence a younger audience. Or, maybe the board lacks representation from your industry?  Want to walk before you run? Consider joining the nonprofit as a Committee member.

Before you throw your hat in the ring, ask to meet with a Board member or staff member such as the Membership Director. Prepare for the meeting by taking advantage of the public information available at www.guidestar.com. Questions should focus on the nonprofit’s nomination process, length of term and board member expectations. Confirm whether they have adopted a ‘Give and Get Policy’. Do they carry Director & Officer liability insurance? How often do they meet? Be sure to take a look at their financial tax filings (IRS 990) available on GuideStar.

When its time for your annual company review, be prepared to demonstrate the hard and soft skills you have obtained through board service and how it benefits the company. Be concise and use metrics to demonstrate the increased value. These enhanced skills and leadership experience benefits your company and at no cost to them. Now that is a key differentiator!


About the Writer:

Helen M. Chamberlin

Executive Director

Bowen McCauley Dance, Inc.