Volunteering is a smart way to gain leadership experience. While opportunities abound, selecting and maximizing the right ones are vital. This article offers ten tips. Go ahead; take the lead.
Examine your interests.
Like your paid work, your volunteer assignment must gratify you. Otherwise, what’s the point? Begin by exploring your interests. For example, do you feel compelled to make a difference in the lives of youth? Are you drawn to political or grassroot initiatives? What issues grab your attention.
Determine where your skills are needed.
At the same time, your skills and talents provide solutions to problems. The challenge is determining where to offer them. Although your skill set is beneficial to a group or organization, is it a good fit? What is the mission? Are your values in sync with the company’s philosophy? Think it through before you leap.
Survey your affiliations.
Opportunities may be closer than you think. With that said, look where you already have associations. Make your place of employment one of the first stops. Employers who are community focused stay abreast of the needs. Equally important, most have established relationships with non-profits and community agencies. Also investigate options at your place of worship.
Reach out to the community.
Your community is a potential hot spot. Check the local newspaper or online. Often an organization will advertise when they’re seeking volunteers to become active members of boards, special committees, or task forces.
Lead a committee.
Most people look loathe working in groups. I think it goes back to our school days. The personalities clash like cymbals, and one or two people end up doing the bulk of the work.
Nevertheless, leading a committee has its rewards. Leaders build and motivate teams. They find ways to improve performance. In effect, you gain the chance to develop some leadership skills. For that reason, uncover opportunities in your church, children’s school, alumni group, sororities, and neighborhood.
Sit on a board.
Non-profits and start-ups seek volunteer board members. Check with your local chamber of commerce to obtain a list of organizations. Or, Google it. Unless the head of the organization asks you to serve, you will be required to complete an application.
Be a mentor.
Mentors are needed everywhere. Just look around. Children, teens, college students, first time supervisors, young ministers, women, new non-profit leaders – take your pick.
Do your homework.
Once you determine where you would like to serve, do your homework. It pays off. Learn everything you can about the group or organization. Go online, read annual reports, gather literature, and talk to people in the know.
After you make a commitment, follow through. Carry out the assignment with a spirit of excellence. Commit to going the extra mile to make a difference. What you do or don’t can have an impact. Furthermore, other doors will open when you standout.
Document your achievements.
Create a category on your resume that discusses your achievements as a volunteer. For instance, label the section non-profit leadership experience. Briefly summarize your contributions.