In praise of volunteering

Sunday Blog 67 – 15th January 2023

Borrowed from the interwebs from here:

I had never really done any volunteering work until I had my daughter. Then, bored and awash with 15 years of work experience and skills, I discovered the joys and excitement of volunteering, and I was hooked. That was 23 years ago.

From the moment I lodged my first grant application, spinning words in a grant application into gold, and then into services and activities which really met a need, I was totally hooked. I remember thinking how I had often made career choices that were interesting, sideways or otherwise not very well paid. It was interesting to do something for no money at all.

Since that time I have been lucky enough to make a living in the not for profit world, building those skills from the early days. I mean, it wasn’t until I’d been a volunteer for about seven years that I underwent training at the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). It was a scheme to upskill women and was just a learning bite of their large curriculum. I still remember my amazement on learned that Board members are not supposed to do anything. They are there to oversee strategy, governance and risk.

The only reality I had known was that volunteer organisations have two, or if you’re lucky, three volunteers who sit on the Board or as it is now know, Management Committee and do absolutely everything. That training made me realise that it’s the same mechanism to run a hockey club (with its two keen and/or resigned volunteers doing everything), and a massive not for profit such as RAC, with paid staff and a paid Board.

Fast forward to me skidding out of a not for profit organisation to make time to write. (And it is coming along nicely thanks, still a work in progress, but definitely progressing.) It’s not an exaggeration to say I am a not for profit governance nerd. And that needs an outlet…

Occasionally I will reflect on my day and realise I have spent the entire day on volunteer tasks for my neighbourhood. Oops.

Of course, it could be another fiendish form of writerly procrastination, but it sure is fun…

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