Monday, May 9, 2011

The Benefits of Volunteering: A True Story

I have talked in the past about the benefits of volunteering for nonprofit organizations, and how all that hard work could eventually land you the job of your dreams.  It may be true that it doesn't always work out that way, but it certainly gives you a better chance.  I have heard from plenty of people in the nonprofit sector tell me how badly they need volunteers, and today I want to share a story from someone who experienced success from his volunteer work. 

Recently, I had been searching for tips from people who work (or have worked) in nonprofits.  To be honest, I wasn't even thinking about the volunteering aspect, but I was reminded of its importance when I received an e-mail from a man named Stephen Anfield.  Anfield, who is 30 years old, told me that he found the best way to get a non profit job was "volunteering at an organization whose mission/vision you believe in."  And this is not just talk; Anfield is living proof of this.  He was recently mentioned in a piece on this very subject on  Over a year ago, he began volunteering at AARP in Washington, DC, on top of a part-time PR job he had.  While the work was basically office your standard office jobs (writing blog posts, making PowerPoint presentations, etc), it eventually all paid off for Mr. Anfield.  After six months, he got paid work with the help of an AARP employee.  I'll leave it to Mr. Anfield to explain the whole story:

I started volunteering at AARP (Create the Good). They knew that I was looking for employment, so they referred me to a firm they use for temporary employees (since I was not a registered business). The company was called A10 Clinical, and they are based out of Cary, NC. I was working at AARP in Washington, DC.

After my time with AARP, a colleague then referred me to the AARP Foundation where I worked as a consultant. I served as the benefits access project coordinator and led 11 (retired) volunteers.

My contract with AARP has come to an end, but I was able to find a full-time employment by networking at AARP. Today is my first day with Marc Freedman's organization, Civic Ventures. I am now working on the national communications team in Washington, DC office.

So as you can see, there is a lot of benefits to doing volunteer work.  Sure, it may be hard to work for no pay, but if you make a good impression, like Stephen Anfield did, you could eventually find yourself with a full time job at a great non profit job. 

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