Volunteering is such a win-win situation. It helps keeps me vibrant and it helps the receiving organization reach its goals.
But I’m very judicious with my volunteer time. I say no frequently without feeling guilty. I really can’t be a productive or effective volunteer if I feel obligated, really don’t want to be there and/or feel angry.
So I always think about ROI when deciding whether to volunteer for a person, entity or organization. ROI = return on investment. Will the time I invest be worth it/rewarding/enjoyable? Am I exceptionally passionate about this issue/organization? Is the return beneficial for BOTH parties?
I have two all-time favorite volunteer activities that provide maximum ROI.
1. WFYI FM 90.1 public radio pledge drives.
Every spring and fall for the membership campaigns, I’m on the air during Morning Edition (my favorite and most-listened to NPR show), encouraging/asking listeners to call in their support. I love this volunteer activity and have done it since the early 90’s. And up until about 2013, I was on-air talent for the TV pledge drives as well.
I’m passionate about public broadcasting, especially NPR. It’s part of my daily life and love doing my part to grow the supporting membership.
2. Parent Clinics for Tamika Catchings’ Catch The Stars Foundation.*
Every fall, Tamika’s foundation sponsors a basketball clinic for teens and invites parents to stay for a parent clinic. It features a variety of health/fitness topics. This past November was my fourth year being involved with Tamika’s event. Basically, I provide the same 20-minute presentation about smart and balanced eating and shopping FIVE times, back-to-back. I used to call those round-robins when I was in sales with Sysco Foods.
It is by far my MOST rewarding nutrition-related volunteer event ever. I’ve done a lot of little volunteer nutrition talks over the years and many didn’t provide ROI. Tamika’s event is worth every minute/hour: pre-event meetings, planning my talk, shopping for all my supplies, arriving early to set-up and talking constantly for two hours. I typically have between 10 and 15 parents in each round-robin and lots of nutrition questions. I’m able to help ease their fears about food and nutrition, also a passion of mine. Kroger, one of my clients, also benefits, because I do this talk as “the Kroger Dietitian” and don’t charge Kroger my normal fee. A win-win for everyone.
*FYI, Tamika, a former WNBA Indiana Fever player for 15 years, started her foundation in 2004 to help disadvantaged kids through fitness, literacy and youth development programs. She is an exemplary role model here in Indy. And every year Jeff looks forward to a “Tamika hug!”
What are your favorite volunteer activities? Is it hard for you to say no when asked to volunteer? I’d love to hear if you think of ROI when choosing volunteer activities. Thanks for reading!