What does volunteering “mastery” look like?
According to Daniel Pink’s book Drive, the new approach to motivation has three essential elements: (1) Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives; (2) Mastery—the urge to get better and better at something that matters; and (3) Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.
“The science shows that the secret to high performance isn’t our biological drive or our reward-and-punishment drive, but our third drive—our deep-seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to live a life of purpose.”
Pink’s book is good news for the nonprofit community IF we can spread the word, so I will do my part. Last year, I wrote about philanthropic giving and the potential health benefits that come from giving. And this research proves there is a big personal payoff if we volunteer – so if that is true, what does volunteering “mastery” look like?
We believe mastery begins with understanding the structure of a nonprofit. A nonprofit must operate similarly to a for-profit company, but all profits stay within a nonprofit and ultimately must be transparent to the public. Your skills and talents can be put to work in some big ways, because we need all of the skills necessary to launch, maintain, and sustain a successful company.
Volunteering as a board member means that you are signing up for three jobs. (1) Governing; (2) Advocating; and (3) Sustaining. On most nonprofit boards, you have oversight and a fiduciary responsibility. “Governing” includes overseeing the hiring of an executive director to run day-to-day operations. “Advocating” does mean fundraising! Board members are the tentacles into the community, and we need great storytellers. Finally, “Sustaining” is the focus on the future – who will fill your board seat when you are gone? A focus on building reserves and endowments.
Strong boards reflect diversity and utilize board members’ expertise in marketing, finance, event planning, human resources, and legal & governance. Your “no-big-deal” skill – your talent/expertise that comes so naturally to you it is literally no big deal – is critical to a nonprofit board. Because nonprofit boards attract top talent, you will be at a table with impressive community members who care about something bigger than themselves.
Volunteering as a committee member allows you to pick a sandbox to play in that you enjoy. Do you like planning events? Are you creative? Are you a pro at reading financials? Is your skill connecting people to your cause and being an ambassador? Committees are where you build relationships and truly see your time and talent making a difference.
Investing your thing? There are some fun options here. Many nonprofits are building earned revenue streams of income to support operations. If you have launched a business and understand the highs and lows of the journey, by all means share your experience to help nonprofits build their base of income. You may be philanthropic but still worry about the future. In that case, consider providing low-interest loans or loan guarantees that will help nonprofits expand their footprint.
Volunteering as an individual or family is a great way to get to know a nonprofit, its leadership, and its impact. Your participation is a big help to the organization, because without volunteers most of these events could not happen.
Finally, back to Daniel Pink’s research. Mastery happens when time is invested. This work matters as we direct our own lives and you can find your purpose. If you are yearning to serve something larger than yourself, we are happy to help you find an organization that is making an impact in your area of passion. Meet our Community Impact team and please reach out with any questions about how you can get involved.