Volunteering Gives as Good as it Gets
I recently resigned as President of Manly Business Chamber – one of my biggest, most enjoyable, challenging learning experiences.
Exiting is sadder than I thought it would be as the Chamber community continues to surprise me. As I reflect on a highly intensive 3 years, I think of new friends, amazing relationships and navigating the local political landscape: liaising with federal, state and local politicians, being astounded and/or appalled at behaviour, challenging the status quo, advocating, innovating, collaborating. And through COVID, (OMG!), yelling with frustration, hearing business concerns and crying with local business owners as we heard their stories.
Accountability, as always, was high on the agenda. Holding myself and others to account, walking the talk, leading by example and respecting the role of business leaders.
Volunteering is wonderfully rewarding and has given me as much as I have given it. I’m proud of our achievements and happy with my contribution. Leaving somewhere better than when you arrived is always the goal and I’m confident we have created a strong platform and infrastructure for growth.
Working with NFPs is different, depending on whether it is additional or instead of your current regime. I’ve learnt so much and always ensure I do my due diligence.
If you’re invited to volunteer on a Board or committee, I suggest considering the following:
- Are you passionate about the purpose?
- Don’t assume, ask questions, what do they want from you? What can you bring?
- Establish the time requirements
- Set boundaries – does this eat into your own business/family/personal time? Are you OK with that?
- Be realistic, is this the right time for you?
- Communicate with the family, friends, work – managing expectations is key
- Ensure you’re aware of your director accountabilities, and check insurance
Fully understanding your commitment is critical, as is your accountability. If you have a strong work ethic, it can be difficult to say “No”, so it’s only fair to establish in advance what is expected. Often, I hear that people are flattered to be invited to a Board, only to find they have not allocated sufficient time for prep work.
It is very important to all parties to set the scene at interview stage. I remember when I was asked if I would stand for President, I responded with, “ are you ready for me? I am an “all-in” type of person!” We all laugh about that now.