Determining what to get involved with…Volunteering? Young Professional Group? Board?

Determining what to get involved with…Volunteering? Young Professional Group? Board?

Committee Photo

Last week, I discussed how you shouldn’t over commit as it relates to your civic engagement or volunteerism. This week I want to spend some time thinking about how you determine what to get involved with.

It shouldn’t be a secret that Cleveland has A LOT of nonprofits – thousands of nonprofits. I believe we are actually a statistic for having the most per square mile or something like that. Additionally, as a young professional, there are over 80…that’s right…80 young professionals groups. They range from industry groups to ethnic groups to similar interest groups. I have to imagine that one of them fits your interests, but if not, let me know and we can help you start one.

So if you are now feeling overwhelmed by the numbers I shared – don’t. I’m here to help. Let’s start at the beginning.

How do you determine what group to join? Here’s a simple start…

  • What are you passionate about? What gets you up in the morning? What would keep you up late at night?
  • What do you have time for? Do you have 2 hours a week, 10…?
  • When do you have free time? Only after work? Only during the day because you have other priorities like children in the evening?

Keep in mind; this is a volunteer gig, so often times you are going to be doing all of this volunteering outside of your typical “job” hours.

  • Will your employer give you any time off of work to volunteer?
  • Is your employer interested in sponsoring or supporting your volunteer interests?

Sometimes employers are your best advocates in this space. They want you to get involved, give back, etc. so they back it up by giving you some time away each month.

EC’s annual YP Civic Engagement Fair.

What’s your next step…are you ready to…

  • Volunteer?
  • Join a committee?
  • Join a young professionals group or associate board –or-
  • Join a board of directors?

These different steps vary greatly from a few hours a month to significant time and financial contributions.

Okay, now that you know a little bit about yourself and what you are looking for, you need to learn about the organizations that are out there. You can once again do some Internet research – Engage! Cleveland has a directory of all of the young professional groups we work with. Additionally, we host a yearly YP Civic Engagement Fair to meet with non-profits and young professional groups in a job fair style.

Here are some tips when meeting with the potential organizations:

  • Do some homework – find out the organization’s mission, goals, etc.
  • See if you hit it off/have a spark – this is important.
  • Make sure that the opportunities that they have match your interests i.e. you want to sit on a Board of Directors and they only need volunteers.
  • Interview them – this is a two-way process. You both need to determine if this is a good fit.
  • Look at their current board – do you think you would mesh well/bring something new to the table?
  • Find out what the expectations are for involvement.

Then…take that step! These groups are a tremendous way to get involved and give back to your community. Good luck and have fun!

If you aren’t sure what’s next for you, check out Engage! Cleveland’s YP Workshop on October 24. I am leading a session for YPs looking to get involved where I will explain all of the different groups in town and how to get involved. Then in the afternoon, I will be joined by some of my colleagues from YP groups to share their experiences and why it is important to get involved. Reflecting on my last post, just remember not to over commit.