Are you looking for a good 2016 resolution? Volunteer your time and skills

Volunteer

If you are thinking how to give a boost to your personal and professional life in 2016, you should think about volunteering part of your time.

Why?

There are many reasons why volunteering is the best way, perhaps not the most obvious, to consider, in any period of your life, whether you are a teenager, a professional or in the middle of a career change.

Joining a not for profit organization, whether it is healthcare, childcare, education or business sectors, gives the opportunity to develop a network, get exposure to new environments, new challenges and new skills. Whether you are in the middle of a career change or at the beginning of your professional path, adding meaning to your daily job and developing new skills by “giving” rather than by “taking” is a good way to get out of your comfort zone and to grow personally and professionally.

According to Deloitte, 91% of Fortune 500 HR managers said that “volunteering knowledge and expertise to a nonprofit can be an effective way to cultivate critical business and leadership skills,” such as project management, communication, goal-setting evaluation and time management. These ‘soft’ skills might not be as easy to quantify, and they might not even be a part of an employee’s daily work, but they can make all the difference in cultivating leadership and planning for future success.

Volunteer work, however, isn’t just an outlet for employees in search of more meaning in their work lives; it provides an excellent way to prepare for a senior executive position. By volunteering for projects in nonprofit organisations, experienced executives can improve their supervisory and leadership skills, and aspiring executives can gain the experience and networking opportunities that could lead to plum positions in the company.

Because managers or professionals volunteering in nonprofits often don’t have titles to define their positions, they have to practice a different leadership style, not based on authority but on “mission”. That is, they have to earn the trust and respect of the people they are supervising. Also, they need to do all this with what are usually much more limited resources than what they are accustomed to in their ‘real jobs’, which often requires significant creative skills.

Based on a LinkedIn survey, 82% of surveyed LinkedIn members want to volunteer their time and skills.

According to the biggest professional network, with 300 million active members every month, volunteering is valued and can lead to opportunities:

Volunteering is valued

41% of LinkedIn hiring managers consider volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience when evaluating candidates.

Hiring managers take notice

20% of hiring managers in US agree they have hired a candidate because of their volunteer work experience.

Volunteering can lead to opportunities

Unemployed people who volunteer are 27% more likely to be hired than people who do not volunteer.

I am writing this post because I am personally involved in this extraordinary adventure since few years. Amount of time and skills invested are huge but ROI is bigger. How do we measure the return on investment of a volunteer activity?

  1. new skills learned (as said before: people and project management, digital communication, time management, leadership)
  2. more meaning on daily work
  3. adding value to an association and people involved contributes to your personal achievements and satisfaction (you feel the good that comes by “giving” and sharing to others)
  4. a larger network and exposure to new challenges and opportunities

And the list could continue.

I am currently volunteering at MIB Alumni Association (www.mib.edu), where I serve as President, and at Innovits, where I am associate (www.innovits.it). In the past I used to be a member of the Governing Council at AIMBA (association of Italian MBA).

For this year, I am currently exploring new ways of volunteering.

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