I worked directly in the nonprofit sector for 17 years before starting Dot Org Solutions so I know how important volunteers are to successful nonprofits. When I managed and worked with them, I appreciated their time and energy. I valued their help. But I never fully understood how they could be so passionate about their roles. Why did they continue to commit so much time and energy? What made the organization so special that they would donate hundreds or thousands of hours of time each year?
I had spent a great deal of time volunteering myself. But I never seemed to find the passion they did. I started wondering if I was insensitive, too busy to really care or just really not interested. Nothing ever really seemed to give me that spark.
That was until the summer of 2010. I had just completed my first year in business and I came upon an article in the paper looking for volunteers to help at this new event called Cleveland GiveCamp. It was an event to bring together the tech community with nonprofits in need. I thought, hey, I have nonprofit experience and I am sure my writing background may be helpful. So, I signed up and made the 30 mile trek to Cleveland on the first day. I thought I would help for a few hours, but my time there extended way into that night and I turned around and came back on Saturday.
That was three GiveCamps ago. I found that spark and passion I was looking for as a volunteer. I am now a planning committee member and am proud of how the event has grown since year one. We just wrapped up our Third Annual Cleveland GiveCamp on July 22 and have generated more than $1,375,000 in free help since our first event. I work with amazingly dedicated, talented and creative people. I feel challenged personally and professionally. And the event itself is just very cool to be around!
The thing I learned first and foremost is that volunteerism is very personal. Everyone has a different reason for volunteering. Everyone has a different passion. I found mine. I encourage you to find yours.