Non-profit organizations need your money. With few exceptions, the most important part of any non-profit administrator’s job is securing funding.
Non-profits also need your time and expertise. They need volunteers. They need board members. They need professional advice. Can you help? Should you help?
When a friend or associate asks you to consider helping a non-profit, the request can be flattering. But before you commit, there are a few things to consider.
- Do you have the time? Do your work and family schedules allow you the flexibility to attend meetings and events, to take phone calls at random times or, when called upon, to devote several hours to a particular task?
- Do you have the passion? Is this an organization that you feel is vital to the community? Are its programs generating results? Does the organization’s leadership have a strong belief in the organization’s mission?
- Do you have the money? Most non-profits ask board members to make annual cash contributions. United Way monitors the board giving of each organization it provides funding to—not the amounts, but the percentage of board participation.
- What’s in it for you? Are you participating to help people? Are you joining in to make new connections? Will your participation be a good thing for your employer’s status as a good community citizen? Will you learn from your non-profit experience? Will you have an opportunity to hone your professional skills?
- Can you stay committed? I’ve seen people jump into volunteer situations and board memberships with great enthusiasm, only to lose their mojo in short order. Even in the best non-profits, there will be conflicts and disappointments. Can you roll with the punches and remain focused on what your non-profit is trying to accomplish?
If you have considered volunteering to help a non-profit, I encourage you to act now. If you have an organization in mind, call them and ask how you can participate. If not, ask a friend if she or he knows an organization that could use your help.
Remember to check out the organization before you sign up. If you do decide to donate your time and energy, give it your very best effort. I know personally that non-profit volunteering and board membership can be a gratifying experience.