Can volunteering help you better weather this economic storm?
Kelly Holland made some interesting points in last Sunday’s New York Times piece, “Can Volunteers Be a Lifeline for Nonprofit Groups?”
Kelly’s observations on the current “tough times on Wall Street” ask us to consider the hardships that nonprofit organizations are enduring.
“Public funding and charitable donations have plummeted even as demand for nonprofits’ services has risen sharply.”
That you may already surmise, but consider Kelly’s next point:
“Nonprofits have a hidden challenge: in contrast to executives at most midsize and large businesses, many leaders of nonprofits run very lean organizations and have sometimes risen through the ranks because of their commitment to the group’s mission rather than their managerial expertise. In effect, they are navigating an economy in crisis without much of a rulebook.”
This ‘fact of nonprofit life’ has long been a focus for Operation Kids as we have encouraged our charity partners to acquire the needed expertise so that their operational skills match the passion of their stated purpose. But as budgets fall, training for nonprofit managers is a casualty, thus maintaining this frequent “gap” between commitment and managerial skill.
But Kelly cites a solution that I really like…and it is not one you may immediately think of in hard times.
“The good news is that the current economy is also creating potential opportunities for nonprofits. More than two million people lost jobs in 2008, and many talented and experienced managers have time on their hands. If they started volunteering, they could help many nonprofits navigate the next couple of years.”
I admit, being laid off or downsized or whatever term may have been used, is not likely to spark the thought, “gee, I wonder where I could volunteer.” But once the shock wears off and you once again focus on your future, you may find this idea has merit…for a number of reasons.
- First, as an unemployed or under-employed executive or professional, if you share your expertise with a nonprofit, you will be out there networking – which experts say is the way to find a new job.
- Second, you can help a deserving nonprofit by sharing needed skills, thus helping your entire community during this tough time.
- Third, help yourself. As the article states, “Some experts say volunteer work can help unemployed professionals keep their spirits up, make new contacts or even to try a new field. Feeling you’re giving back can help keep your spirits up, which you need.”
This is a great concept in a tough time. Thanks Kelly. I like the way you think!