Perks of volunteering with a local not-for-profit

M&A advisor Trisha Mossey shares her insights as a professional who also volunteers with two very different organizations

For the last two years I’ve worked fulltime as an advisor with MRSB Mergers & Acquisitions. This means I spend the bulk of my time making sure our clients are successful in buying and selling businesses. The business owners and entrepreneurs I work with are engaging, savvy and often entertaining people who want to enjoy professional and financial success.

Two years ago I joined the executive of Catholic Family Services Bureau (CFSB), a wonderful not-for-profit organization that helps families and individuals in Prince Edward Island overcome obstacles through professional counseling. As Treasurer of their board, I oversee CFSB’s finances. Just six months ago, I also joined the Biz Under 40 committee, a group of young professionals who organize fun networking events for other young professionals in PEI under the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce umbrella.

Obviously, my two volunteer roles are very different; thus they offer very diverse experiences. Here are a few reasons why joining a local board or committee (or two!) might be right for you:

  1. It increases your knowledge and experience

Overseeing the finances of a not-for-profit is totally different than working on specific client files for a private company. Each cog in the NPO machine has to live up to his or her role if the organization is going to thrive, especially in today’s climate when resources are often hard to come by.

In volunteer roles you often have the opportunity to work with more experienced people who know the organization inside and out. You have to set aside the private business mindset and open the doors to a new world with different priorities and goals. It’s also a chance to get away from your desk and take part in a host of events and meetings that can put you in a new mindset that is separate from your day-to-day.

  1. It expands your networks

I’ve met a lot of great people through both CFSB and Biz Under 40. Far from attracting people from the same walk of life, meetings are filled with lawyers, business owners, accountants, teachers and social workers to name a few. Cooperate with, learn from and make friends with these people; you never know when you’ll be able to help each other out in a professional capacity.

  1. It challenges you be a better team player

For Biz Under 40 we have to come up with fun, creative networkers that will get people out and increase overall attendance numbers. For CFSB the focus is to keep the organization ticking and effectively helping those in need. Two very different causes and both involving several stakeholders. Each role challenges me to look at what works for other committee members and for the organization at large. We each must be respectful of others’ opinions and viewpoints because we have to make important decisions as a group constantly, and often quickly.

One final tip

My main piece of advice would be to find an organizations you’re passionate about, as you will be helping to guide future decisions on its behalf. A board or committee position requires time and energy, so a personal connection to the organization can keep you motivated when things get busy or challenging. It also gives you a great chance to learn more about an organization you’re interested in. Don’t forget to keep your volunteer positions in mind when applying for your next professional role, and have fun!