I got a call the other day from a friend of mine that inspired me to write this post.
She is a newly hired executive director of a small nonprofit agency, and called to ask my opinion about an idea she wanted to use in a fundraiser. I listened for about ten minutes and her enthusiasm was so contagious, I knew I had to get involved.
Not that I needed another project on my plate. But it sounded like a fun project, so I agreed to help. Within a week, we were able to put together a committee and get her idea off the ground.
We were able to do this only because both of us have been actively involved in volunteer activities like this for years, and have a broad base of contacts cultivated through our volunteer efforts.
People often ask me how I find the time to stay so active with community organizations. The quick answer is that I always make time for worthwhile causes. But it’s really more than that. It’s my both my personal and business philosophy.
I believe it’s my responsibility to give back to my community. Most large corporations support community organizations through financial contributions and employee involvement.
Small businesses usually can’t afford significant financial contributions, but they can certainly can become involved in many other ways. Everyone at our shop is involved in a number of volunteer activities, which I enthusiastically support.
The flower business is a very personal, one-to-one type of business. We’re often involved with our customers at very emotional and personal moments in their lives. It’s this type of personal interaction that has made my involvement with community organizations so rewarding.
My volunteer activities have built a trusted contact network, one which has allowed our company to succeed and grow–and one that will be beneficial to me throughout my life.
Although I get involved with many different organizations, I’ve never done it for personal recognition or overt business solicitation. It’s not my style. I do it because I believe it will be a satisfying experience.
I’m always willing to share my resources to help out where I can. But my level of involvement with different organizations varies. Some projects require more time and hands-on effort than others. I’ve learned to pick and choose the projects I participate in wisely. I understand how my involvement (or non-involvement) can best serve them. I think that’s been the real key to the success of my relationships with nonprofit organizations.
All organizations are in need of volunteers who have a willingness to lend a hand. Find one with a cause you personally fond of. Call them and ask how you can help. You’ll be surprised by the variety of volunteer opportunities that are available.
Sadly, a lot people don’t ever get involved because they feel they simply don’t have the time. I think most people can afford 3-5 hours a month. But you won’t know unless you give it a shot. I’m sure you’ll find, as I have, that people who make time to volunteer are people worth knowing.
A great place to check out volunteer opportunities in the Milwaukee area is the Volunteer Center of Greater Milwaukee.
Begin to plant the seeds today, and I have no doubt your business will bloom tomorrow.