How Volunteer Work Can Benefit Your Business
How Volunteer Work Can Benefit Your Business
More than a year and a half ago, we here at Alt Creative made a pledge to be more socially responsible. The results so far have been phenomenal, and it’s been amazing to see what donating just a percentage of profits can do to improve the city that we call home. But even before this initiative we’ve enjoyed exploring the great wide charitable world, volunteering our time, energy and talents with a few favorite nonprofits across the community. Throughout these experiences, it’s always been clear that as much as we give, we get back.
So, just how can volunteering benefit your business? Here are a few clear and sometimes unexpected benefits we’ve found along the road.
1. New Business Leads
When you’re marketing your business, one of your key goals is getting that potential customer to crack open their door just far enough so that you can demonstrate your expertise and convince them to sign up for more. To do that, you might try all kinds of creative strategies, from content marketing to PR stunts. When you volunteer your talents, you’re getting that very chance without investing a dime.
For Alt Creative, that’s meant a variety of things, whether it’s having our name and a link to our site at the bottom of the TEDxAustin website or working hand in hand with future movers and shakers through the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce (AYC). For us, this has put both our work and work ethic on display for fantastic referral sources, who have recommended us to colleagues, family and friends, and have even used our services themselves. In this way, volunteering can really help you save both money and time in your marketing efforts. There’s nothing like giving something away for free to entice potential customers into trying more.
2. Hidden Talents
When I first started volunteering with AYC on their FAVE awards event, it’d been a long time since I’d worked hand in hand with anyone other than clients. I also had no event planning experience whatsoever. Though I was there to provide help within my area of expertise (web design), I found myself rapidly learning about how to manage big projects and communicate with a large team of people. I learned which team members responded to emails and which responded to phone calls; what it means to take a backseat sometimes and to lead at others; and just what kind of project management timelining works in a large, democratic setting (and what does not). Overall, volunteering gave me a new perspective on what I could do, helping me to work with a wider range of clients and giving me greater confidence in my abilities. Sometimes you just need a different experience to show you what you’re capable of — which of course can translate into new skills for your business.
3. Improved Customer Impression
Let’s face it: doing good looks good. When clients see you offering pro bono work to worthy causes, you’re sure to stand out as an ethical, community-minded organization. That’s key when it comes not only to gaining new business, but also in developing brand respect and loyalty.
And of course, volunteering is…
4. Just Darn Meaningful.
At first glance, it might not seem like helping put on an award ceremony would be a particularly meaningful activity. But when I did this for AYC, I knew that the event would help fund the bulk of the organization’s incredibly helpful initiatives, ensuring long term viability. As I continue to design and manage the TEDxAustin site, I know that what I produce is the portal to a dynamic, idea-driven event that brings together the community’s most creative minds to collaborate on solving some of the world’s biggest problems. If that doesn’t have meaning, I don’t know what does.
A Few Caveats
Of course, there are some drawbacks to volunteering. Due to low or non-existent wages, nonprofits struggle to keep talent and are always looking for someone who can do more for them. It’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed with tasks, and, if you’re not careful, this can be a drain on your money-generating activities (say what you will, a gal’s gotta eat!).
However, this can actually work to your benefit. Should you decide to pull back on your volunteer role to concentrate more on your business, there will always be a need for you in coming years when you might have a little more time. You can always contribute financially to show how much you care, and those contacts you made from your time there won’t go away anytime soon.
No matter how you slice it, volunteering is a great thing to do for your business, your career, your personal well-being, and the community at large. With so many wonderful organizations to choose from, you need only pick your favorite, reach out, and offer your skills.
Do you lend your professional talents to a nonprofit? How has this benefited you both personally and professionally? Let us know in the comments below.