We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. ― Winston Churchill
National Volunteer Week was created in 1974 by then-President Nixon. Since then, volunteerism in America has really expanded and taken off. The Baby Boom generation is 40 percent more likely to volunteer than the same age groups were in 1989 and nearly two-thirds of Generation Y employees would like to use their business skills in their volunteer efforts.
When we think about volunteerism, many things come to mind. It would be difficult to find a person who has not offered their time, skills, expertise or hard work for the good of someone else. These days, if you are a parent, it's a given that you will be involved in some form of volunteer activity on behalf of your child throughout their education (homeroom Mom/Dad, bake sale, chaperone, etc.) and extracurricular activities (team Mom/Dad, snack provider, coach, etc.) alone and that you also will likely be responsible for helping your children learn about and perform community service. Many schools now require service hours as part of the curriculum for all students.
Volunteering is quite beneficial to both giver and recipient. As a volunteer, there are not just the mental health rewards associated with feeling good about volunteering. According to a study by the University of Wisconsin, volunteers experienced increased satisfaction, improved sense of belonging, lower blood pressure, increased protection from Alzheimer's, and decreased mortality. How's that for a healthy lifestyle?
Although giving back to your community and helping others who are vulnerable or in need is one of the greatest acts of volunteerism, contributing your time to your professional association can be incredibly rewarding AND beneficial to your career and to your field. According to Monster.com, "volunteering can help you demonstrate and build skills that can help you land a new job or advance at your current company. It also can show you're a go-getter who takes initiative to keep busy and make yourself useful."
For example, I've always considered volunteering an excellent way to pursue professional development with little or no financial investment on the part of my employer. Anytime I've been intellectually stimulated by something I don't know much about, I simply find a volunteer opportunity to learn more and do a deep dive into that area. This past year, for example, I really became interested in the legal intricacies of running a nonprofit organization because the legal stuff comes up far more often than one can ever imagine. There are constant legal questions associated with human resources, organizational policies, contracts and grants, office leases, copyright materials, and so on. To build some volunteerism into my learning effort around legal issues in nonprofits, I recently volunteered to sit on the legal committee for the American Society of Association Executives. My hope is to be able to bring some of my recent experiences to bear on the committee's work while also learning from many other association experts on the committee.
Will YOU please think about volunteering for your professional organization? This is a terrific way to enhance the benefits of your membership in AMCHP and your career, while also contributing in a real way to the success of the organization. The AMCHP Governance Committee is currently accepting nominations for 2016 AMCHP board positions. These leadership positions guide, direct, inform and contribute to moving AMCHP strategic directions and goals forward. More information about these positions, necessary qualifications and the nominations process may be found on the AMCHP website or by clicking here. We ask that all nominations be forwarded to the Governance Committee by Jul. 31,
2015 to be considered further. Your organization NEEDS your expertise, experience and input. You would be surprised at how much you'll get from the experience in return for some of your time. It is DOABLE!
Until next time…if you have any initial reactions to this column, please feel free to e-mail me directly at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.