Have you ever noticed how the busier you get the more people need you? I had an incredible day just a few weeks ago where I was offered four different opportunities to volunteer in some amazing capacities to help some incredible institutions and charities. Besides working in my businesses, I volunteer for different levels of support to several organizations, some in the chair, some as a once a year supporter. I love to help where I can, as I’m sure you, do but as you may have come to recognize, the more you do the more there is to do! So, when do you say ‘Yes’?
The key to saying yes is to know what the benefit is to you and to the organization you are supporting. Here are the questions I ask when being offered a position and the process I go through to ensure I’m the right fit for them.
The first question I ask is, how much time do they estimate I will be spending in this position. Some positions are project based and will require a significant amount of hours over a short period of time. Some are a long term commitment and require a small amount of time each year. The three details you need to know are:
- How long is the commitment (e.g. 1 day, 1 week, 1 year, 3 years, etc.)
- How many hours are estimated (I get them to average the amount of hours over the term)
- What is the frequency of the hours? (For example, if it is a yearly commitment, will I put in all my time in two meetings, or will there be weekly work required?)
Why does this matter? Because if you do not have 10 hours a month to give over the next 3 years then you should not be volunteering. If you are not available to work 8 hours on the one key Saturday the project happens then you are not going to be helpful. If you cannot give 100% of yourself to ensure they are successful then you are not the person they are looking for. Remember, when committing to something like this you need to be passionate and excited to participate. If getting there is impossible you will not feel successful or be able to contribute on the level expected.
The best producers in business and in life are people that are able to focus on what they do because they are passionate and committed to seeing it done right. If someone offers you a position that does not align with your passion but you are considering it because you feel it is a good move for your image or your business, then I suggest you spend some time picturing yourself preparing for the work required. As a chair my preparation in the one group is not much more than an agenda-setting lunch meeting prior to the advisory meeting. For my committee position I often have several hours of documents to produce in-between meetings.
If you don’t know what work will be required, make sure you ask and then picture yourself doing it. You are not going to love every task required of the position but you should love the cause more then you dislike any part of it.
I’ve already been talking about fit in your time and your focus, but I want to point out personality fit as well. If you are going to be a part of this group for a long period of time (e.g. a year or more) then you will want to feel great about being around the same people at each meeting or event. If possible, ask if you can visit as a guest.
This saved me recently from being in a long, negative relationship. I had visited one of the volunteer business coaching offers I got. As you can imagine this was very appealing to me being that I coach entrepreneur for a living. The time required was going to work for me and the focus was exactly where my passion lies. I went as a guest and found that there was a person that I was challenged to work with. This does not happen often, but I knew I was going to be stressed every time I had to come to the meeting. I knew I would be angry at myself each time I started to develop my program for the meeting. I knew that every time this person interrupted another expert I would be steaming inside and I knew that that person was already a secured part of the group. I kept thinking of the benefit to my business, but what I needed to do was think of the benefit to my positive, giving capacity. I was not the right fit for this group. I would not bring ‘the best me’ I could, so I declined.
Don’t say ‘Yes’ unless you can commit to the time, you have the right focus, and you are the right fit. You cannot bring benefit to a group if you are not there, you are not passionate about their goals, and you are negative every time you show up. Note that when I said ‘no’ to the wrong group, the right fit came up the next week, and I had the capacity to do it, plus the group I said ‘no’ to found the right person to fit their needs. They got someone that brought passion and positive energy to every meeting and I got a position to go to where I could be my absolute best.
Saying ‘No’ is not the end
If being a part of this group is where your passion lies and you are not the best fit for the position being offered and you still want to help, then ask if you can volunteer in a different capacity.