Volunteerism a Win-Win in a Downturn

I attended the Volunteer Fairfax Service Awards last week, and it was clear there are many amazing people still out there volunteering their time, and worthy of significant recognition.  But trends show that volunteerism is down across the country.  Perhaps as we all work harder to try to sustain our jobs and support our families, we feel we have no room left for volunteerism.  

With a lot of organizations and individuals needing more support than ever right now, consider thinking of volunteerism as an opportunity.  Here are a few ways to do just that: 

Free Training - if you're an employer and cutting costs across your company, employee volunteerism can serve as an excellent supplement or substitute for expensive training sessions.  A good fitting volunteerism placement for your staff can give them new skills or help them refine their existing ones by exercising them in a different environment.  You can even work it into your training programs or performance metrics to encourage it more.  If you yourself are looking to grow your skills, volunteerism is a great place to do that, from food banks to nonprofit boards, each offers an opportunity to bring your skills to bear and to acquire new ones.

Great Free PR - Not only is volunteerism a great chance to build skills for your workforce, it can also be fantastic public relations for your organization.  Many consumers and clients hope to do work with organizations with value systems that connect with their own, and in a down economy, volunteerism is a great story.  You may inspire other companies or individuals to follow your lead, as well.
Job Hunting - if you're one of the many individuals that has lost your job in this tough economy, consider adding volunteerism to your repetoire while you search for you next opportunity.  Pair your volunteer efforts with your passions, and you'll find opportunities to demonstrate your skills to the organization, as well as to other volunteers and sponsors. Nonprofit organizations are often looking for people with business skills to support them, and could be a place where you can shine, network and land leads for your next job!  Volunteerism is also a great way to fill a gap in your resume with meaningful contributions.

Think about how you can integrate volunteerism into your plans or your business!