Why I Volunteer for Nonprofits in My Community

 
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Guest Blogger, LuAnn Haydon, retired from John Deere as Manager of Deere Global Visual Services and volunteer extraordinaire

Ever wonder the best way to recruit a new volunteer, board member or donor? Learn from consummate volunteer, LuAnn Haydon what she looks for when getting involved with a new organization. What can you learn from her experiences that can help you recruit people to your organization?

Before we talk about why I volunteer in the community, there are many things you should consider, things like what I should expect to provide to that organization. Is this something that I would be interested in doing and why?  Should I say yes to a board position with this organization if asked?  These are all the questions I ponder when I start to form relationships with any local nonprofit organization in our community.

I was raised to believe that part of our personal mission in life is to give of yourself to those individuals and organizations in need. I may support them as a volunteer, possibly assisting them with their programming or even considering accepting a position on their board of directors if asked. In my experience, all these reasons are why I have spent so much of my life working with nonprofit organizations in our area. My advice to anyone wanting to get involved with a nonprofit organization is to do your homework before you engage.

That said, before I ever say yes to serving on a board of any nonprofit, I get involved with that organization. I usually start by attending one of their fundraisers. I do that because that is where you meet individuals that have a strong affiliation for that organization. I talk with some of them to find out why they support that organization. Although that is not the only reason I attend the event, the most important reason is to be present to hear the compelling story that is usually associated with such event. That, for me, gives full exposure of the heartbeat of that organization, what they do, and what outcomes of support they provide to their clients

Once I feel compelled to learn more, I reach out to friends, employees and/or the Executive Director of that organization to see how I can support them by becoming involved. This conversation sometimes is set up by others who have recommended the organization or by setting up time to meet the Executive Director to let him or her know of my interest in their organization.

I realize that it could be somewhat intimidating to make that first move to becoming involved with a nonprofit organization. I have told most friends that are looking to get involved with any nonprofit organization to reach deep within themselves to determine what moves them to get involved. Is it their mission? Is it because you have admired what they do and feel compelled to get involved? Or maybe it’s just the draw of becoming involved with something bigger than yourself that pushes you to become involved. Nevertheless, in my opinion, being involved with a nonprofit organization is one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.

During the courtship and involvement with any nonprofit organization, you may be invited to join their board. If that is what you are drawn to, make certain you understand all the responsibilities that come with taking a seat at their board table.  Aspects and responsibilities associated with a board position means becoming intimately involved with every aspect of that organization. That includes strategic planning, budgets, programming, marketing, fundraising and development and, with some, crisis management. What do I mean by crisis management?  Due to uncontrolled circumstances, the facility of one of the boards that I serve on was displaced from their business location. That put all board members into overdrive to assist in relocating physical assets, redirecting programming and finding temporary housing while searching for permanent residency.

I cannot stress enough how valuable your time and experience is to a nonprofit organization but I can certainly tell you that, from my experience, I have not only felt privileged to be a part of those organizations but have been nourished and humbled by the ongoing benefit these nonprofits bring to their clients and, most importantly, our great community.


 
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LuAnn Haydon

Guest Blogger, LuAnn Haydon, retired from John Deere as Manager of Deere Global Visual Services and volunteer extraordinaire