Why I Always Make Time For My Non-Profit Commitment posted 10/29/15

By Jill Lewin

As the Associate Director of Development for the School of Engineering at Washington University, the committee chair of Launch St. Louis’ strategic growth committee, and a new mom, Jill Lewin is no stranger to being busy. In this post, Jill outlines why it’s important to stay involved.

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Life happens.

Being a part of a non-profit board is a time commitment. From meetings to fundraising events to projects and reports, you have to find time in your schedule to get it all done. If you are passionate about the cause, it’s not hard to find the time….until it is. Whether you’re getting married, starting a new job, buying a house or having a baby, life happens…especially to young professionals. It’s easy to write off your non-profit commitment during moments like this and say you don’t have time anymore, but I encourage you to reconsider. I believe it’s even more important to stay involved as these life changes happen. And here’s why:

Developing Your Skills

Even with a busy schedule, personal and professional development are important for young professionals. You have to find the time. Serving on a non-profit board is a great opportunity to develop the skills you use in your “day job” and to learn new skills (team management, fundraising, event planning, etc.). Look at your time giving back not only as a way to help the non-profit, but also as an opportunity to keep your development a priority in your life.

Maintaining Your Relationships

The people you meet while volunteering are an incredible perk of doing great work. Whether it’s a connection for a potential new job or a new drinking buddy, being involved on the board gives you an opportunity to meet and connect with a wide array of people…people that you probably would not have met otherwise. Those people can help you through some of the transitions in life by offering advice, being a sounding board, or even being much-needed distraction.

Caring About the Cause

Just because your schedule changes doesn’t mean you care about your cause any less. If you joined a board because you were passionate about its mission, odds are that you are still passionate. You might even be more passionate about it now. Let that passion remind you why you got involved in the first place and inspire yourself to stay committed.

Make Time

Projects that used to take me a couple of hours to finish now take me a weekend because I work on them while my son is sleeping. I used to meet people for happy hour to work on board projects. Now we meet for morning coffee or lunch because I want to be at home with my family after work. The point is, it’s all about finding what works for your schedule. There are pockets of time in your schedule that you might not realize would be perfect for getting non-profit board work done. You need to get creative to find them sometimes.

Be Realistic

Be honest with yourself and the board as to what you can contribute. Realize that the time commitment and level of work might change during your time on the board…and that is ok if everyone is on the same page about it. Any young professionals board is used to these situations. If you have tried to fit in your board commitment and it’s still not working, take a step back and determine if you need to leave the board entirely or if you can take a short absence (if bylaws allow). If you need to step off the board, could you stay involved as a committee member or volunteer? If you know this hectic schedule is a one-time situation, talk with your board members. Let them know how important the organization is to you and see if it’s possible to step away for a month or two. Giving back also makes you feel better about yourself, so selfishly earn some good karma points with yourself and the universe.

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