Volunteering: Your Secret Career Superpower

Volunteering: Your Secret Career Superpower

By Laura G. Davis, CAE

We all are busy. We all have too much to do. We all have limited time for additional commitments. So, why does it seem that some people have more hours in their day and can find the time to volunteer for their professional association? The answer: They prioritize it.

I encourage you to also prioritize volunteering for your professional association. Not only will your association benefit, but you will as well.
There are many ways you can volunteer—and most of them will take as little as 1 hour per month:

  • Mentor a less-experienced colleague.
    Meet them for a cup of coffee or lunch. You’ll be amazed at how much you have to share and how much you’ll learn from each other.

  • Serve on a committee.
    Most committees and task forces meet every other month or quarterly via conference call and have limited work outside of the meeting time. You might also want to volunteer to chair a committee—it provides some valuable leadership experience.

  • Write an article for the newsletter, magazine, or blog.
    Suggest topics that are important to you and your work colleagues—things you’ve discussed while drinking your morning coffee. If it’s important to you, it will be important to others too.

  • Attend a special interest group (SIG) meeting or educational event.
    It’s a great way to participate in educational sessions and meet others who are doing what you’re doing. Why reinvent the wheel? Learn from others.

  • Participate in a community platform.
    Post an article, ask and respond to a question, or recommend a vendor. Share what you know and you’ll be seen as a valuable resource.

Every volunteer contributes to an organization, and each of those contributions improves the association and increases its value in some way. It’s not just the board members or committee chairs who contribute to an organization’s success—without the other volunteers, much of the work would not get done.

I’ve been involved in varying degrees with my professional associations (Association Forum, American Association of Medical Society Executives, Council of Medical Specialty Societies, and American Society of Association Executives) since I first entered the association community more than three decades ago. They have helped me to be more effective in my job in three key ways:

  • offered quality and relevant educational programs to increase my knowledge of association management   
  • given me the opportunity to connect with colleagues
  • allowed me to volunteer and hone my leadership skills.

Volunteer. You will reap the rewards.

Laura Davis, CAE, is a senior director of Membership, Marketing & Communications for the  American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM).

Editor’s Note:
Laura Davis was recently recognized by Association Forum with the Association Professional Achievement Award for her exemplary service and outstanding accomplishments in association management. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow her on Twitter @LauraGDavis.

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