Volunteering and paying it forward are great for business

Next week I’ll be celebrating 9 years of being matched with a wonderful young woman through Big Brothers Big Sisters. We met 2 days after her 9th birthday, and she turns 18 on Oct 2. It’s amazing how the years have flown.

Although our ‘official’ relationship ends, our personal one certainly won’t. She’s now a senior in high school and has aspirations of college and working with young children – perhaps even opening a day care center someday.

As we talked about our 9-year journey yesterday, she pointed out things she’s doing today because I shared the experiences with her, lent an ear when she needed it, or encouraged her to try something new.

Volunteering can influence any part of life, including building our businesses. Here are four benefits I thought about:

  • Discovering new relationships. When we volunteer, we meet new people by default, and we uncover new friendships and relationships as we stay involved with an organization.
  • Expanding our experiences. We can learn from every new experience, right? Even if we do something we already know how to do, if we’re doing it with different people, the experience might show us a new way to do that thing, and even broaden our knowledge unexpectedly. It’s great to be open-minded.
  • Giving our reputations a positive nudge. For the self-employed, everything we do can impact our business reputation. Volunteering in the community is a great way (I think) to show folks we want to share ourselves and get to know them personally. Perhaps those relationships turn into business or referrals in the future, but we each need to have time outside of our businesses to enjoy life.
  • Sharing our knowledge and paying it forward. I’ve always been a firm believer in sharing what I know. Giving back is one way to position ourselves in a good light. When we spend time and effort to benefit others, people see our empathetic side. Readily sharing what we know is a positive action that tends to stick with people. We can become the ‘go to’ person when a question comes up, and that goes a long way in building relationships.

Donating money to a non-profit organization to get your name out there as a sponsor and supporter is also a way to go, but I think donating your time and knowledge is what will keep you in business for the long term.

What benefits do you see in respect to volunteering in your community?

I didn’t fully appreciate all the benefits to volunteering as a Big when I started — I hadn’t thought about what I would get back in the process — but I know I’m a better person for the experience and this young lady has taught me as much as I have taught her. It’s an incredible gift that keeps on giving.

Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys New England’s crisp fall mornings and warm sunny days. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to network with writing professionals on a weekly basis. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Biznik.

17 thoughts on “Volunteering and paying it forward are great for business

  1. I followed your same path 14 years ago and now my little is 24, in medical school, and doing superb things in the world. Volunteering, especially with kids, keeps you young. It also becomes a part of your life and you don’t think of it as volunteering. I liked it so much I did it two more times. Congratulations on seeing your little progress into adulthood and enjoy the years ahead watching them grow even more.

  2. I run a non-profit, and we wouldn’t exist without volunteers. Your work is inspiring, but folks should know that coming in for a few hours to help with a mailing, or helping plan/execute a fundraiser, are HUGE helps.

    And I know how much your little sister means to you, so I love reading this post.

    • Thanks, Julie. I think there are many times volunteers don’t realize the impact they have (in any capacity) since they only see a small portion of the large project.

      Little Sis has been great all these years in telling me about how I’ve impacted her life — special gift that she gives me with feedback like that! 🙂

  3. I spend a lot of time volunteering at a sports club that has a large youth base. It takes up a lot of my time and can be exhausting, but I get back ten times more than input in. You are right Lisa, new friendships and skills and sharing what I know are just a few of the positives. My children just see what my husband and I do as normal and they too volunteer. Everyone benefits when you get out into your community and give your time and energy to others. Congratulations on your wonderful nine years, may there be many more.

  4. I volunteer at a variety of organization and enjoy every moment. Currently I am in the PTA, volunteer for a green community effort in the spring (a garden to feed the less fortunate) and teach religion. The relationships you build are lasting and meaningful. It is also an excellent way to network for business. The rewards are immeasurable.The best part is the way you feel after realizing you made a small difference in some way.

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