We Asked, You Answered: Valuable Volunteer Lessons

Volunteer work not only aids your community, but it can also help you develop relationships and skills that are helpful in a professional environment. Find out how your fellow association pros have benefited from volunteering.

The personal benefits of community service and volunteer work can have a positive impact on your overall well-being, as well as bring skills and perspectives that are useful at work.

We asked our audience, “What is a volunteer experience you had that taught you something valuable for your professional life?” Here’s what they had to say.

Rob Bergeron, CAE

Relationship Manager, Marketing General Incorporated

When working as a national association staff member, I always prioritized and encouraged my colleagues to serve as a volunteer leader in a chapter or an organization of their own choosing. There is no better way to keep association management professionals appropriately grounded, in terms of the expectation management and communication practices needed to be effective in your job, than by walking in the shoes of the volunteers you are charged with developing from the staff side.

Garland Preddy

Director of Education and Training, Society of Government Meeting Professionals

I have used my meeting planning skills to assist two nonprofit organizations. I have learned that working with volunteers is very rewarding, both to the organization and especially to me. Volunteers often work harder—without compensation—than paid workers and have a genuine interest in the success of the organization. I hope that I am bringing value to these very worthy organizations.

Sabrina Kidwai, CAE

Membership and Marketing Director, National Association of Bond Lawyers

I was president of the PRSA-NCC chapter, and I stepped into the role when a president had to relocate midyear. For 17 months, I led the chapter through a variety of initiatives and learned a great deal about leadership, membership recruitment, and managing volunteers. All of these experiences will help me become a great CEO one day. Being involved at the board level for seven years provided me with insights on best practices to work with the executive director and the board, which will help me when I become a CEO. Volunteering gives you the ability to gain skills outside of your daily job and see if running an association is something you ultimately want to do as a career.

Susie Hayman

President-Elect, National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals

Volunteering as a NAPO leader, both on the local and national level, has impacted my personal and professional growth and development.

One thing I recognized early on was that the time spent as a volunteer leader is never lost time. The rewards we reap and their impact are often not realized until many years later. What one gets back in rewards, whether tangible or intangible, can be as varied as those who lead. For me, they came in the form of personal and professional growth, by impacting my relationship with colleagues and clients.

Getting involved has given me a strong voice and provided a venue for expressing my opinions. It has reinforced my skills as a connector of people and resources, and as a result, has made me more successful with my clients. They learn from me, while I learn from them. Just as NAPO, it’s a team process and effort. As a result, my business continues to grow and evolve.

(Elecstasy/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Raegan Johnson

By Raegan Johnson

Raegan Johnson is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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