How do I approach non-profits about substantive volunteer work?
February 8, 2013 5:09 PM Subscribe
I'm between jobs and looking to spend some of my time volunteering with a non-profit to do substantive work that involves my professional skills. How do I best approach them to propose this?
posted by Colonel_Chappy to work & money (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I just moved to a new city with my partner so that he could pursue a work opportunity. I'm still looking for a job, and my ideal position would be working in communications for a non-profit organization. My most recent position was in corporate communications for a technology company, but I do have experience working for non-profits in the past, though they were administrative roles. The area has a lot of non-profits, but until I build a network here I'm just sending my resume to open listings and hoping that it gets seen.
I recognize that this isn't likely to be very effective, so I'm looking to volunteer with an organization as a way to 1) build my network of non-profit professionals 2) bolster my experience with NPOs and develop some samples for a portfolio and 3) use my extra time and skills in a way that's meaningful and productive.
I've seen organizations that are looking for interns to assist with communications work, but I'm afraid that organizations will be hesitant to accept a volunteer for that same work because I can't guarantee that I'll be available during the work week for the next three months like a student intern can. I'm willing to volunteer around 10-15 hours a week while I'm unemployed. Once I do get a full-time job, I would be willing to continue writing and working from home on projects for a few hours a week after our relationship has been established.
I'm wondering how to best approach NPOs to propose this. I'm also wondering if there's an arrangement that would better meet their needs while still giving me the opportunity to achieve my three objectives above. I also want to tactfully make sure it's clear that I want to do substantive work--ideally writing content and press releases or helping with social media responsibilities, but I would also be willing to help with contact management or the administrative logistics for fundraising and development. It's not that I think I'm too good to schlep boxes, and having worked for non-profits I know that even Executive Directors spend time stuffing envelopes. I just don't want to end up spending 15 hours a week doing only menial tasks.
Does anyone have any experience with this type of arrangement? I would be especially interested in hearing from people who work in non-profit communications or who manage volunteers. Thanks for any advice you can provide!