As far as I can tell, there’s only way to really get to know a nonprofit organization. You could talk to the board. You could read the mission statement. You might even feel good enough to donate money. But there’s only one way to really “get” an organization. You’ve gotta volunteer.
Volunteering with a nonprofit gives you an intimate understanding of the mission, the commitment of the board and other volunteers, and the energy and interest the community has for what the organization has to offer. It’s no longer a statement on a piece of paper. It’s a living, breathing organism with aspirations, goals, and successes you can see and smell and hear.
In the past, I’ve had initial support of organizations thinking their values aligned perfectly with my own only to discover post-volunteering how wrong I am. I’ve also volunteered with organizations that seem enthusiastic in my participation, but in reality already have a diverse, committed volunteer base. They don’t really need me.
Over the past six months, I’ve become increasingly involved with Austin Creative Reuse, beginning as their web designer and IT support all the way to joining the board.
While we’re still getting on our feet, I can see the Austin community has a real need for what we offer. I’ve seen new faces at our volunteer meetings passionately ask how they can help. We’ve got a long ways to go, but I feel the enthusiasm of the ACR group expand with interest and commitment. It makes me feel good and needed and like I’m going to make a real difference in the Austin community.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in volunteering with Austin Creative Reuse or sign up for our newsletter.