Volunteering to help causes is a noble endeavor, one I hope every friend and colleague is able to do. When we volunteer to advance causes, we work to make the world a little bit better. A child goes to bed less hungry, a dog or cat finds a loving home, a student learns to read, a family enjoys clean drinking water – the causes we advance are endless.
However, one aspect of volunteering isn’t obvious: how we volunteer. While service of any kind is welcome and important, consider what we do as volunteers and whether we’re doing the most good possible.
For example, I volunteer with MIT’s Global Founders Skills Accelerator as an advisory board member to students’ entrepreneurship efforts. My role is to lend my 20+ years of digital marketing experience to help students grow and build companies. I could just as easily lend my time helping fill bags of toys for Cradles to Crayons (which I’ve done in the past), but that leverages only a fraction of the value I know I bring to a non-profit.
What I do, what I’m good at, is helping organizations grow through digital marketing. At work, companies pay tens of thousands of dollars to my employer for that expertise. If I want to make the most of my volunteering time and deliver the most impact, I should volunteer with my strengths.
As you look for volunteer opportunities, consider what you’re good at. Ladling soup at a soup kitchen is important work, unquestionably, but if you’re not good at working with people or food, perhaps it’s not the biggest impact you can make.
- Suppose you’re a finance expert – could you instead volunteer to help families do their taxes, or help a non-profit straighten out its cash flow accounting issues?
- Suppose you’re a talented writer or copy editor – could you volunteer to help a non-profit write compelling donor copy or clean up its website?
- Suppose you’re an amazing chef – could you not only help prepare meals at a soup kitchen, but optimize the menu and budget to provide nutritious food while stretching limited dollars most effectively?
- Suppose, as many of you are, you’re an incredible marketers – can you help your chosen cause be seen and heard to the right audience in a very noisy world?
Do the most good by volunteering with your greatest strengths. Give the best of yourself and the world will be a better place that much faster.
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