Welcome to National Volunteer Week, which runs from April 12 to 18 this year. It’s a time to give thanks and show appreciation for those who selflessly volunteer for a cause close to their heart. As with many nonprofits, here at IMA the service, spirit, and inspiration of our volunteers is something we appreciate and cherish throughout the year around the world. Volunteering has mutual benefits, surely for the organization and for the individuals in building their personal brand, becoming an expert in their field, and building their résumé.
Build a Personal Brand
A personal brand is the identity you project through your values, career, and beliefs. Everyone has a personal brand, but it’s up to you how to manage it. Volunteering for a cause close to your heart is one way to build a personal brand. You can do this through volunteering with an organization, alumni association, or community project. Once you’ve decided on a cause to volunteer for, make it a point to volunteer often and regularly to truly build a name for yourself within that community.
Become an Expert
Being published in magazines or other media sources will help prove that you’re an expert in your field. IMA has various publications that will help you share your expertise, including Strategic Finance and Management Accounting Quarterly, IMA Educational Case Journal, research endorsed by IMA’s Research Foundation, and more. In turn, your contributions can help give guidance to other professionals to perform their jobs more effectively, advance their careers, and grow personally and professionally. When you write about what you know and love, writing comes naturally. And the more you write about those topics, the more credibility you will build with your audience and the media sources.
Build Your Résumé
Volunteers’ time, effort, and passion help drive the mission of the organization. At IMA, individuals are dedicated at all levels – from the local chapter level to the global board level. And volunteering is a continuous learning opportunity – start as a student volunteering on your college campus and continue as long as you are inspired and seek to inspire others. These opportunities are perfect for building your résumé by gaining leadership experience and other soft skills. There are endless opportunities for you to follow your passion while adding value to your community.
Volunteers At IMA
IMA genuinely appreciates the volunteers who not only built this association nearly a century ago but in many ways created a new profession. Our volunteers enable IMA to sustain its growth in the face of competition, consolidation, and commoditization. IMA’s volunteers at the global, national, and local community levels are truly a competitive asset that we cherish and that no other association can claim (for example, IMA has nearly 350 chapters, including 130 student chapters globally). In terms of ensuring mutual benefit – the “value in volunteerism” – there are many ways for you to be involved as an engaged, relevant, and inspired volunteer.
The current Chair of IMA’s Global Board of Directors, Joe Vincent, is the perfect example of lifelong volunteerism. He started volunteering before he graduated college for his local IMA chapter. He now has 40 years of leadership experience gathered at the local, regional, and global levels and continues to dedicate his time to the profession he’s passionate about. Read more about Joe’s most rewarding experiences of volunteering on LinkedIn.
Personally, I’m growing every day as a leader and business professional. Becoming CEO of an organization isn’t the end of the learning and growth journey. In many ways it’s the start of a new journey to inspire, to make a difference, and to touch a heart. My growth since becoming IMA’s CEO in 2008 is in no small part because of the countless volunteers I’ve worked with. Our volunteers truly have created moments that matter in how they donate time to their association, profession, and communities. I can tell endless stories of how volunteers took time off from their “day jobs” to escort me around when I make visits to the region and took the time to establish new connections and new relationships that truly make a difference.
I encourage you to support your community or a cause close to your heart because volunteers provide increasing value to the community or organization, but also you can take advantage of the benefits of it. And we at IMA extend our appreciation to our volunteers every hour, every day, and every week around the globe.
Written by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE
Follow me on Twitter @ima_JeffThomson