5 Questions to Ask as a Professional, When Deciding Whether to Volunteer

volunteering hands together as oneIn one way, shape, or form we’ve all volunteered. Whether it was out of obligation or free will, we’ve all dedicated our time, resources, or hard work to serve a cause or organization. As we get older and become wrapped up in our daily routine and all the things we have to do, it’s easy to forget why volunteering was once a fun and enriching thing to do.

While many of you may be thinking that volunteering is not a top priority on your list, when at the age of trying to grow in your career and gain new expertise and experience. What many people don’t realize, is that you can do both. Serving on a committee or advisory board can be a great way to network with other professionals and also to enrich your life.

At The BLU Group – Advertising & Marketing we are encouraged to dedicate our time and expertise to an outside organization and are even allowed to do so on company time. Two years ago I started my position on the Advisory Council of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the 7 Rivers Region. The experience has allowed me to use my professional skills and knowledge in another setting as well as expand my network to include many area professionals and business leaders that I may not have otherwise met. During my two years on the Advisory Council I have co-chaired an event and served on several event committees. The experience has been extremely rewarding, but it has also been a big commitment of my time.

Dedicating your time and expertise to volunteering on a committee or advisory board is something that you should think through and learn as much about as possible, before committing. Here are five tips to keep in mind when deciding whether to volunteer on a professional committee or advisory board.

  1. Is it something you’re passionate about? The time that you spend on your every day responsibilities may leave you with little time to spare. The last thing that you want is to feel that you have one more thing you have to do when it comes time for your volunteer work. If you find an organization that’s mission is something you’re passionate about, it will feel less like work and will be a way to relieve stress by spending time on something you enjoy.
  2. Will this opportunity grow my skill base? Look for an organization that would provide the opportunity for you to strengthen a skill that is beneficial in your career or industry. For example, if you’d like to become better at public speaking, seek out a role that would allow you to speak on behalf of the organization at events or group gatherings. It will allow you an outlet to practice and gain confidence. You can then bring that new skill back to your company for use in your professional repertoire.
  3. Will it allow me the opportunity to use my knowledge or expertise? If you choose the right organization, you will hopefully find yourself meeting and working with people from prospective industries or companies. By being able to be in a role in your volunteer position that demonstrates your professional knowledge or expertise and building relationships in a less formal setting, you are in a better position to be top of mind in the instance that that person needs your industry services at their company. For example, if you’re able to strategically develop and help execute a successful marketing plan for the organization, the other committee members are likely to remember that when their firm they work at is looking for a new marketing partner.
  4. Will I be able to prioritize? You’re used to juggling several responsibilities, but what happens if your company gets a large new project or you’re required to put in extra hours? It’s important to always remember that your job comes first. Don’t let your every day duties suffer because you’re trying to do too much. You need to be on a committee or with an organization that you feel comfortable stepping down in certain areas or taking less on if you need to put in more time at your office.
  5. Do you have the time? Over committing yourself to an organization is not good for you or them. Be realistic about how much free time you have to dedicate to your role on the committee or with the organization so you don’t spread yourself too thin. Don’t be afraid to ask about what type of time commitment will be involved to help avoid frustration or under-delivering in your role.

If you choose a cause and organization that fits within your daily life and matches your professional skills and goals, serving on a volunteer committee or board can be a great way to give back to your community and enrich your life.

What other things should be kept in mind when deciding whether to volunteer on a board or committee?