A wise person once told me: “If your good at something, never do it for free.” I don’t know who was the first to coin this phrase but I also know the Joker said it in the movie The Dark Knight (2008). Regardless, I agree with this statement. However, I also believe that if your not good at something, don’t be afraid to start doing it for free until you are. This is where volunteer positions can come into play. Not only is it contributing to society and your community in general but a person can gain some pretty valuable skills learned from volunteer organizations.
Volunteering in a political party is a fantastic way to give back and learn very valuable skills simultaneously. Below are a few:
Political parties have executive boards, just like companies. These boards make the calls on all the big decisions regarding the party. If a person can work their way up volunteering to get on the executive board of a political party, their chances of success landing a position on a board at work have increased in my opinion. This is especially true if a person becomes the president, vice-president, treasurer or secretary on a political board. Some of these positions can eventually become paid as well if they aren’t already.
Riding associations are the smaller geographical gatherings for political parties. There is also a board for these associations including: president, vice, treasurer and secretary. This is the usual starting point for volunteering in a political party, just join and attend a riding association meeting.
Fundraising skills. Political parties are run from donations, these donations come from fundraising. If anyone gets creative about ways to fund raise, its political parties. People have heard of “cash for access” meetings, these were created in the political world. Ethically methods can be questionable but they are effective and this creativity and drive can translate into a career path as well. The ability to persuade people to support your party, company, brand etc is priceless in todays world in my opinion.
Marketing skills. Along with fundraising, political parties need to get their message out as far and as wide as possible. It may be labelled as “awareness” but its really all marketing and branding the parties image. If a person can get involved and learn how to effectively market a political party, then they can definitely market a product or service for their company or their own business.
These organizations often take volunteers quite easily as well. Usually representing some type of specific group or cause, a person can pick whichever field is appealing or resonates with them. It’s important to choose a cause thats close to you because yes, you are gaining skills but ultimately you truly are making a difference by joining one of these organizations in one way or another.
Most non-profits are run very similar to a business with similar positions (some of them paid). By starting out volunteering you can actually land yourself a job later on and you’ll already be in a field your passionate about. Pretty sweet trade off but the good non-profits don’t pay very well, most of the proceeds are directed to the cause and rightfully so. If being a career contributor isn’t for you then at least you will still learn how a new organization runs and be able to apply that knowledge within your own organization or company. Knowledge is power after all.
On a personal note, I love animals. There may not be a large career benefit to volunteering with animals. However, I’ve personally taken in eight rescue animals and my life is ever better for it. I believe a bond with an animal is therapeutic in many ways. Taking in a pet certainly isn’t for everyone and I know that. Consider though just going to your local SPCA and taking a dog for a walk. The experience can be very rewarding. I believe productivity is at its highest when morale is also high so if you feel disconnected, try hanging out with some kittens at the shelter. Everyone wins with this one.
I don’t believe there are wrong reasons to volunteer (aside from anything criminal). There is nothing wrong with volunteering your time to improve an organization while gaining some new skills, a better understanding of the world or a paid position one day.