“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give” – Sir Winston Churchill
As my network grows, and I connect with more people, I’m always surprised by how much attention is focused on only one aspect of people’s lives: their career.
I understand that LinkedIn is designed for professional use, but there is very purposefully an area for volunteer experience. Volunteering should be a part of your professional life. As your knowledge grows, you’ll want to showcase your experience outside of work, just as much as you do for work.
Whether your professional life is fulfilling or not, involvement in a charity is a worthwhile endeavor.
For too many, writing a check is the only connection they have to a charity. Giving, however, does not have to always be monetary. Organizations are always in need of volunteers, not just for events or office tasks, but for skills and services that they don’t have.
This relationship isn’t one-sided, either. Volunteers gain experiences they may not have access to through their work. You may learn new skills that impact your job or prepare you for the next one. Through collaboration with other volunteers, you’ll also gain professional connections. The volunteer experience should be fulfilling one, for both you and the organization.
Some organizations struggle with how to best engage volunteers. Ensuring that needs and skills are matched is critical to success. Having too few volunteers puts a burden on Staff; too many, and the volunteers feel unnecessary and underappreciated. Finding the right balance, and managing needs and expectations, is an important step when soliciting and accepting assistance. Just as with any job interview, understanding the organization and the individual are key factors in the process. A highly-skilled volunteer is a precious commodity; don’t squander the opportunity.
A good employer, too, will encourage charitable involvement, and may provide further assistance to the organization in the form of sponsorship, recruitment, or event participation. Companies have found that supporting a cause can drive up morale, productivity, and foster an overall healthier work environment. In some cases, employees may directly benefit from the organization their company, and their peers, are involved with.
For many, this experience helps create a much healthier work/life balance. No longer is the only expectation to work, work, work. Time away from the office can provide a much-needed break, both physically and mentally. This is particularly true when you take the time to find the right organization and engage in a way that is meaningful to you. People who volunteer are 42% more likely than people who don’t to say they are ‘very happy’. The relationships you build, and the experiences you gain, will benefit you personally and professionally. It is the ultimate form of networking; all while giving back.
If you’re already involved with a charity, please continue to give of your time, your talent, and your treasure.
If you haven’t yet taken that step, take a moment to think about what causes are important to you, and where you would enjoy having an involvement.
It would be wonderful to see more people volunteer, not just to list the experience on LinkedIn, but because it matters. For me, the best connections have a healthy balance of professional and charitable experiences. Giving back is an important part of our lives; the sooner we start, the more impactful we are. While this may also help build your resume, it will improve your life, and the lives of others.