It's National Volunteer Week and in case you didn't realize it, you can thank the internet for the reminder!
Seriously, it's always a great idea to remind ourselves how important volunteers are to the success of every nonprofit. Our world of positive impact and collective change would not be possible without the volunteers who are the vehicles of action and deliver on our missions.
I have had the privilege of working with some amazing volunteers whose passion around issues that they cared about were quite inspiring. Here are five happy memories I have of working with past volunteers (that may or may not involve food):
1. First up is Michael. Michael is my favorite volunteer. He came to SHARE almost everyday for six months to help us with the transition to a more electronic and efficient bookkeeping system. His dedication to the mission was relentless. He also had this habit of buying me lunch on a regular basis. Great volunteer!
2. Michael's wife Joan was just as fantastic. She helped me collect and present data to the board in a meaningful, impactful way. I will always appreciate that lesson, as it is something I have taken with me on future projects. She raised the expectations of that board, and it was very meaningful as we examined the bottom line.
3. I didn't know much about energy efficiency when I took a job with a nonprofit whose mission was promoting this idea across the world. But I learned so much from Dean, an insanely passionate man when it comes to this subject. This guy knew how to make a case. Sit in a room with this guy and you will fork over some cash. Dean once let me eat Twizzlers in his nice car, which hadn't before or since.
4. One volunteer from my early career was Buffy. Buffy was old school volunteer. One call from her and things got DONE. I worked with Buffy a lot on events and going to a tasting with her was like working with a movie director unfolding the deeper meaning of a script. She was so much fun and it was fun to watch her get results.
5. This last one is reserved for all the people who came out in the cold on Saturday mornings well before the dawn broke to collect food and bring it back to their churches to give to their neighbors. Also to the all of the people who came out in the cold every Saturday morning just when the dawn had broke to run and raise money to find life saving cures for loved ones who have cancer. They did this without hesitation. I am grateful to have been a small part of their efforts. We ate plenty of Chick-Fil-A and pound cake along the way.
Volunteers are the best. It's that simple. It's been one of the perks of working in nonprofits for all of these years, learning and working with people whose only motivation is to be there to help your organization because they care.
Let's take this week and say thanks.