VolunteerismBefore you say
NO, consider this:
Volunteerism is Good for Your Career,
Good for the Community
Have you noticed your mailbox at
home and at the office swelling with dollar-seeking pleas from
non-profit organizations? Are organizations knocking at your door,
asking you to volunteer your time?
More and more, fund-raisers and
volunteer-dependent organizations are targeting career women,
entrepreneurs, and small business owners, as they compete for your
time and money.
Volunteering for a cause in which you
believe provides the important satisfaction of giving something back
to society, helping your community, and helping disadvantaged
citizens. But if that doesnt warm your heart, consider
thisvolunteerism is also good for business, and good for your
Businesses large and small, as well
as individuals and entrepreneurs, are all learning the value of being
good citizens, or Corporate Citizenship.
While many small businesses owners
and self-employed individuals cannot afford large, or even moderate,
dollar donationsvolunteerism provides a great opportunity to
increase your professional visibility and be a good citizen at the
same time, without the need for deep pockets.
Moreover, just like the corporate
giants, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and career women should
take note that it does not diminish your good deeds by sending out
press releases and getting more than just a little publicity about
Before you toss the literature
and letters in the wastebasket, take a closer look! Simply put, in
order to gain community or professional visibility, or to sell a
product or service, people have to know who you are, and they have to
feel good about you. AND you have to feel good about yourself.
Volunteering for a cause you believe in provides both professional and
public exposure, as well as the personal and important satisfaction of
giving something back to society. One does not preclude the otherif
you choose your charities wisely. Carefully consider where you will
have the most impact helping others, and gain the most exposure.
Building a career or a new business does take time and energy, and it
is easy to feel there is little left to donate. This is a mistake! And
for two reasons: (1) there is nothing so satisfying as
helping others in need and really being part of the community, and (2) it
will help you and your company! There is nothing wrong with doing good
deeds and getting the public and professional recognition that go with
Women business owners certainly have
caught on. Volunteerism has been integrated into their lives and
businesses. According to the National Foundation for Women Business
Owners, nearly six million women business owners volunteer, making
significant contributions to the fabric of their communities.
Nearly eight in ten women business
owners spend time volunteering and encourage a majority of their
employees to do so as well. Half volunteer for more than one
Overall, nearly two-thirds or 65
percent of women business owners spend time helping a
community-related charity; other charities include education-related
(35 percent), religious (28 percent), health or disease-related (21
percent) and the arts (19 percent). There are lots of opportunities!
Now lets get down to the nuts and bolts.
Keep in mind that volunteerism, if not done carefully, can be an
unfocused activity that is nothing more than recreational at best. But
carefully thought-out, it can be a powerful professional opportunity
as well as a worthwhile community service.
Below are guidelines for deciding
which national or local organization to join, or which charity will be
the recipient of your time and money.
down how much time and money you are willing to spend on the
organization and its activities.
a committee that fits within that budget.
for the activities that will get recognition.
bite off more than you can chew. This is a responsibility and a
commitment that you must fulfill.
giving has additional considerations. If you are considering
corporate, as compared to individual
sponsorship of a charity or organization, take your thinking a bit
all this sounds very calculating, IT IS! After all, we are talking about
your time and dollarsas well as making a difference in peoples
lives. Just because you are providing a service to a worthwhile cause
by serving on an organizations board or committee, helping the
disadvantaged directly, or providing dollars or an in-kind service,
doesnt mean you should not use the experience to further your
business or career.
Does your companys philosophy mesh with
the organizations mission?
Is the charity a group that is well-respected in the
Does it have a IRS tax-exempt status?
Is the group audited by a public accounting firm?
members and vendors or other companies?
"Does the group have active directors, or are they in name
Be sure to get an annual report, financial statement, budget,
and copy of IRS not-for-profit filings.
Will people think youre bragging?
Will you look foolish waving your own flag? They might. But with
careful planning, a public or professional image can be created
without losing credibility and self-respect. Think about the image you
want to create, explore your own comfort level with public exposure,
and assess the communications potential
of your efforts. This is part of
positioning, and it is the
basis for all good marketing effortswhether you are marketing
yourself or your company.
Not only will you get publicity and recognition, but you will
be giving publicity to the charity as well. This is a part of building
your professional image, and it is an important part of doing business
in your community.
© 1999 Marion Gold & Company Marketing
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