I think I have always been involved in some sort of small volunteer role prior to entering the field of fundraising in 1996 but since that time it has played a significant role in my life and I know that it has greatly enhanced not only my life personally but professionally as well. When I came back from my very first APRA conference I was so giddy with delight with all of the new colleagues and all of the information I learned that I vowed I would return that favor one day. Being employed with a non-profit really opened my eyes to the important role volunteering can play with an organization. I was fortunate in a short time to get involved with the California Advancement Researchers Association (CARA) and then very shortly thereafter my alma materStephensCollege. My involvement with each of those organization’s boards happened almost at the same time. It was like an adrenaline rush I had never experienced before. That sense of “paying it forward” was never so true and while I know my time and commitment was intensive it was also gratifying. I gained so much from these experiences and took them back to my workplace which made me a better employee. I gained additional perspective on all the different areas in fundraising and thus a deeper respect for the entire team.
We always ask our donors to stretch and give beyond what they have in the past. I think we as fundraising professionals need to do the same and stretch with our involvement and commitment to volunteering. This year more than ever I know what that is by stepping into the role as President of APRA. I know this next year will be challenging but the rewards will greatly outweigh any challenges I may meet. I also know that I have the support of my family, employer, the entire board and all 2,000 members of this extraordinary association. We will be celebrating our 25th anniversary this next year and I welcome this next 12 months with determination, respect and pride.
When I was a prospect researcher full time, my goal was always to provide the three-dimensional view of the prospect. I encourage you all to gain that three-dimensional view of fundraising by becoming actively involved in a committed volunteer role. I think there are some important questions you need to ask yourself before diving in head first. Is this the right time for me to be involved at this level? Just like we make sure it is the right time to make an ask of a prospect, we need to make sure it is the right time to take the lead in a volunteer capacity. How will this role affect my life personally and professionally? Get the buy in from all concerned parties. Be sure to communicate in advance with your family and of course your employer. Having the support from these two entities is making this upcoming year for me a joy. Finally be bold, color outside of the lines and challenge yourself like you have never done before – you will be glad you did!
Michael Quevli is a consultant for Target Analytics. You may reach him at email@example.com.