It’s a Saturday. It’s past 5:00 PM. I’ve been locked up in an orchestra rehearsal room with eight other unpaid compatriots for the last seven hours. That was after two hours of prep at home this morning. It was an “extra” meeting of the Cobb Symphony Orchestra Board of Trustees. We’re in the midst of a search for a new Executive Director and trying to figure out how to survive financially in an economy that has absolutely hammered non-profits coast to coast. We’ll be fine, but only because the group is so fully committed. The time and effort, though, is really wearing. It’s almost like having a second full time job.
And I wouldn’t give it up for anything!
First, there’s the business education I’m getting. Running a non-profit is every bit as challenging as running a “normal” business. In many ways it’s tougher, because most of the work is done by volunteers and the few paid staffers we do have are woefully underpaid. I didn’t truly understand the meaning of “efficiency” or “do more with less” until I got involved with the symphony. Participating in planning and executing all the core functions of marketing, sales, finance, fundraising and operations in this totally new and different (for me) industry has provided TONS of perspective I’d never have gotten otherwise. Those perspectives help me every day with my “real” job.
Then there’s this self-actualization thing. Yes it’s a lot of time; and yes, it’s a lot of effort. But the payback, both tangible and intangible, comes in a never-ending flood. I’m proud to be a part of an organization that serves and provides real value to kids, teenagers, young adults, families, middle agers and senior citizens. That is, everybody in the community. It gives me a tremendous psychic boost to know that my effort gets leveraged through the group and will have a continuing impact long after I’m gone.
The business point here??? You’re nuts if you don’t do some pro bono work. It improves your community tangibly and for the long-term. It provides value to a whole different set of people. It makes you feel good about yourself. It makes you a better business-person. You’ll never do anything that provides so much payback to so many people including yourself.
Go volunteer somewhere. NOW!