Project Managers Giving to the Community

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Open Hands --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Open Hands — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

There is a lot of talk these days about giving to the community, but I speak from experience in saying that it can be difficult to know where to start. Too often our good intentions fail to take on any real form, and year after year slips by. If you are like me, it’s easy to let a year slip by without actually investing any of your time or energy into something.

If you find yourself in that situation, take heart. I can assure you that you are not alone, but I can also offer some encouragement and direction. The majority of charities and non-profits generally bring a lot of passion and enthusiasm but often very little process. This can manifest as lots of heroic effort and chaos, but often little in the form of repeatable, operational results. Most of these organizations are in desperate need of the skills of a good project manager.

  • First, just get involved, and you will quickly find areas where you can help. Don’t wait until you have found the mythical “perfect opportunity.” Instead, get involved however you can and keep your eyes and ears open. You’ll observe valuable ways to contribute in no time.
  • Pick a cause that is close to your heart. Whether that is volunteering for your local church, digging wells in remote parts of the world, or helping out at a local shelter.
  • Get involved personally. As a project manager, you have a blend of gifts that can be extremely useful. Both you and the charity will get more out of it when you do more than write a check.
  • Involve others. Passion is contagious! For example, if you find that the website for your local animal rescue organization needs updating, then your role can change to one who recruits others with graphic design, social media, and coding experience.
  • Ask your employer if you can take time away for time away. Many employers are happy to contribute time. At Velociteach, where I work, every employee is allowed to donate 5% of their time with pay (up to 100 hours per year) to the charitable cause of their choosing.

Applying your “for profit” talents in the “not for profit” world can the most rewarding thing you will ever do, but you’ll never know if you don’t get started.