Every day, dozens of commitments (and distractions) vie for our time. There are project deadlines, team meetings and client lunches to juggle at the office; chores, school work, sports practice and the ever-present question of ‘What’s for dinner?’ at home. It’s easy to see how the idea of ‘giving back’ gets pushed to the side, to become something you’ll focus on later — when the kids are grown or when you retire.
That impulse is understandable, but I would argue that you do have time right now to serve your community, to volunteer, and help others. Here’s why.
You’ll Feel Better About Your ‘Real’ Work
A number of intangible benefits spring from giving back: pride, satisfaction and accomplishment are just a few, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. Volunteering is also a way to develop new skills and grow your network. It can even help boost morale around the office if you encourage your team members to join in.
Your Skills Can Make a Difference
I’m not a fan of the idea of running nonprofits (or governments, for that matter) ‘like a business.’ They have different goals and constraints that make these sorts of truisms unhelpful, as well as condescending.
But I am a fan of seeing entrepreneurs and business leaders take their skills and put them to work in the service of nonprofits’ missions. This was our goal with a recent social media contest that we entered (and won!) on behalf of the IRIS Domestic Violence Center. As part of Mercedes-Benz of Baton Rouge’s #CforCharity contest, the company allowed several members of the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report’s 2014 Forty Under 40 class, myself included, to drive its C-Class vehicle for one month. The winner of the contest got to donate $2,500 to the charity of their choice.
Mary Ellen Slayter is CEO of Reputation Capital. Before launching a content marketing firm in her home state of Louisiana, she spent more than 10 years working as a traditional journalist, primarily at The Washington Post, where she authored the Career Track column, worked as an editor in the business news department, and worked at email newsletter publisher SmartBrief.
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