Three Professional Volunteer Ideas That Will Add Skills And Increase Connections
You may have heard recent notions from leaders in the small business community nudging people who have lost their jobs towards volunteer work. When I first heard this idea I was taken aback because I thought maybe that was an insensitive comment for those that were likely scrambling to find new work or make some extra money any way they know how.
But then I remembered that volunteer work is how I started my own company, Veracity. I’m not talking about the typical type of volunteer work you think of, like walking dogs or unpacking boxes at a food bank. I am talking about volunteer work that will not only keep your skills sharp but also possibly bring new skills, such as through these three avenues listed below.
3 Professional Volunteering Ideas:
#1: The Red Cross
The Red Cross website has a volunteering section that allows you to search by your expertise and interest area. Communicators can scroll down to “Use Your Communication Skills” where opportunities surrounding areas like grant writing, speaking, and public affairs are listed.
The disaster volunteers section of the website directly states that there are many work-from-home opportunities during the COVID-19 outbreak. I have always been interested in the crisis PR side of this volunteer opportunity. I believe you can learn crisis communication skills if you volunteer in this capacity.
#2: Crisis Text Line
The Crisis Text Line is a nonprofit that provides free, 24/7 support to anyone experiencing an emotional crisis. The distraught can text the line to eventually be connected with a trained crisis counselor. But what happens during this in-between-time of texting? Volunteers answering the texts are trained to help. Anyone could put their empathetic skills to use through texting. Oftentimes the best way to get through tough times is to help others during their time of need. You can sign up here to become a volunteer.
#3: The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA)
The AICPA is the world’s largest member association representing the accounting profession. Licensed CPAs can volunteer through this group to provide volunteer consultation. However, this opportunity might be more at director level.
In general, volunteering can provide important virtual networking during isolating times. The work could definitely be added to your resume or LinkedIn profile to show that you are solution-oriented and in-action no matter what’s happening around you. It could even provide some interesting social media content as you work towards transitioning those profiles to more professional facades.
But the best case scenario is that possibly volunteering could be the beginning of an exciting new chapter–the addition of your first client to your book of business, which is the beginning to creating a contracting business or being self-employed. Just because you are doing this work for free is no reason to shy away from bragging on LinkedIn or other channels you might use to start your business. In most professional volunteering cases you do have to be “accepted” to offer the help so in essence, this first volunteering acceptance is your first client.
In the second episode of Fika Talk I discuss how I started my company through volunteering for the professional trade group, SEMpdx (Search Engine Marketing Association of Portland). This volunteer work led to SEMpdx being my first paying client and a great future referral source and a network of connections I am proud to call my friends.