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Submitted by williamelledgepe on


I have been told volunteering to be on the Board of a non-profit can be fun, rewarding, and good for your career. What do you think?
In my case, I help with my daughters school from time to time, volunteer a fair bit with my church, and am also an Asst. Scoutmaster in the local boy scout troop. The invested time in another volunteer effort would be time from other efforts, but could yield real benefits (I am told).
What do you think? If yes, how do I find one with both common values and a need for someone with my skills? I am sure northern VA has plenty to choose from, I just don't know if I should dedicate the time.

JonathanGiglio's picture
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The short answer - yes and no.

I've been working this path for almost 2 years now. I volunteered for the Local Red Cross Associate Board and served as both the VP and a Committee lead. I did this for career reasons and to expand my horizons. It can be time consuming and I'm concerned about the impact I'm making. However, I do see it as an investment in my professional development. Leadership skills, change of scenery, new networks and friends can all open up.

My advice would be this - try it, but don't be afraid to quit if it isn't right for you. There's low barrier to entry and low risk - with high potential upside. If it doesn't work out, it didn't cost you anything but time.

Our Young Professionals group had a "speed dating" charity event, although I had already been a part of the Red Cross board before going. The United Way, LLS, ALS, and may other organizations can use qualified individuals to help develop their missions.

mrreliable's picture

Agree with JonathanGiglio. Community organizations can be rewarding and provide good career energy, but be careful. Many if not most volunteer organizations are in a constant desperate search for volunteers to fill key positions. It can be easy to get into a position of responsibility in a volunteer organization but much more difficult and awkward to get out if it's not working for you. Oftentimes volunteer boards are staffed by people who don't have much experience at their positions, and sometimes they're staffed by people who shouldn't be there. Make sure you know what you're getting into before you make any long-term commitments.

cynaus's picture
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I love this advice from JonathanG:  " try it, but don't be afraid to quit if it isn't right for you"... perfectly on point!

And MrReliable is spot on re desperate searches for vollies to fill important positions. I've seen it happen a lot too.

Go for it and test the waters!