As someone who works with membership organizations, I am a huge proponent of volunteerism. Understanding that people are the lifeblood of associations and charitable organizations, volunteering is what makes them run and impact the world. Sure, many organizations have full-time staff that take care of operations and high-level strategy, but in order for members to get the most out of their experience, they need to be active participants.
For as long as I can remember, I have dived-in, headfirst into any group that I have been a part of. I raise my hand and lead initiatives, head committees and, on occasion, fill the top position. From this activity, I have benefited. I have been educated on topics that I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise, I have learned how to deal with personalities (even difficult ones), and most important, I have made friends. I cannot say enough good things about the volunteer experiences that I have had. Yes, there are times when my plate is full and shifting priorities is necessary. However, the cumulative result of my efforts is almost always in the win column.
Last month I was honored as Volunteer of the Year from the Association for Accounting Marketing. As a member of the organization for over a decade, I was truly humbled to be recognized by an association that has given so much to me. I am actively involved because I believe in the education that they provide and have built my strongest network within its web. Volunteering for them is easy because I am participating in my own personal growth. That said, I am thankful for the honor and continue to give back.
Here are some things that I learned along the way:
- When you are on a committee you interact with different people. The positive collisions that happen can be life changing.
- As a leader, you know more about the organization and have a say in its direction.
- You have more fun at conferences because you have already made friends.
- You learn things that you might not learn in your “day job.” This includes new tools, techniques and processes.
- You have to compromise and you don’t always get your way. This makes you a better person.
- People respect you more than you can imagine. They are thankful and appreciative.
- People refer business to you. This isn’t why I do it, but it’s a nice benefit.
Thank you to the AAM Board for making me the 2015 Volunteer of the Year. I loved working with my committee and getting to know the team better. I am a better person for having been involved.
The night I received the award was extra special. My dear friend Eric Majchrzak was named Marketer of the Year and Michelle Golden made the Hall of Fame. Both are professionals who I respect greatly and friends who I cherish. Please join me in congratulating them as well.