Phil-Com, Where Philanthropy & Communications Meet
View this email in your browser
Nonprofits in the Know
Why I Volunteer
-Sharon Barhorst,
Manatee County, FL

“I love to volunteer in my community so I can make a difference in the lives of children and improve my overall community. The reason I joined Kiwanis was to truly live their mission statement, ‘Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world, one child and one community at a time.’ I like to do good, feel good, and do what Kiwanis is all about - live the Golden Rule.”


A Death in the Family and a Blue Stuffed Monkey

For several years, my husband and I were “Bigs” in the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program. I learned a couple of things from that experience. One is that my husband is way cooler than me. That is almost a direct quote from one of our “Littles”. Since there is nothing to be done about that state of affairs, I’ll move on to the second thing I learned.
The second thing is that volunteering does just as much good for the volunteer as it does for the person or group for whom they are working. There was a very specific moment when I realized this fact. I’d been paired with my Little Sister for just a few weeks when my dad died. I was due to pick her up on Saturday to spend the day together, and I had to call on Thursday to tell her grandpa that I would have to miss the weekend because I was flying north to be with family.
When I picked her up the following Saturday, from the somewhat humble house where she lived with three other people and more animals than could be counted, she presented me with a blue stuffed monkey. She said, “I am sorry your dad died and I thought if I gave you one of my stuffed animals it would help you not be as sad.” At the time she was 13.
This child did not have much. Her family did their best, but there weren’t a lot of extras for the kids. I was paired with her through this program to try to provide a stable mentoring relationship for/with her. But even after only being together a few weeks, her heart was already big enough to give me something she cared about – a blue monkey with long arms and legs and crazy hair like a Troll Doll (Google Troll Doll, and you’ll see what I mean).
Why am I describing this moment to you? Because I think it represents the type of things that volunteers and donors want to experience in order to feel connected to the missions of the organizations with which they work. They want the good feeling that comes with volunteering and giving.
As nonprofit professionals, we often get caught up in the day-to-day. We forget that, for a volunteer, coming in to stuff envelopes is not always the most exciting or fulfilling thing to do. Or we take for granted that because someone gave a donation once, he or she will automatically want to stay involved with the organization and give again. But if they aren’t offered any ways to interact with the mission, they might not stay involved.
That is why it make sense for nonprofits to create ways to keep their Boards of Directors, donors, and volunteers connected to the main reason everyone is there – the mission. Some organizations do it with “Mission Moments” at board meetings, where someone from a program describes an example of the impact the program made on someone’s life. Other organizations arrange “ride-alongs” where a donor can go with a staff person or seasoned volunteer when they are responding to a house fire or rescuing a sea turtle. Such up-close experiences can make a powerful impact.  
It doesn’t always have to be as personal as a 13-year-old giving someone her stuffed animal. It can be as simple as reading a letter from a grateful mom to the food bank that helped her children not go hungry that month. We must always remember that people do not give time or resources because charities need it. They give because of the impact they can have and the feeling that comes from giving. And if they are lucky, they just might get a blue stuffed monkey in return.

- Tracy Vanderneck, MSM, CFRE
Phil-Com, LLC
Copyright © 2015 Phil-Com, LLC, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp