When Have You Given Back?
Recently, on a beautiful Saturday morning when many golfers were still hitting the ball, I found myself going into a grocery store buying donuts that would be given later that morning to individuals interested in attending a free estate-planning seminar. The day before, I was in Staples purchasing name tags, binders and copying presentations for the next day's presentation. The night before the Staples visit, I was on the phone with my fellow university alumni friends discussing a future alumni event in my area in which I would be involved.
After a long workweek that including a weekend special event, I chaired a church parish meeting and had breakfast with an individual that wanted me to be their mentor. Later that day, I enjoyed coffee with individuals whom would be introduced by me at an upcoming Kiwanis meeting. While all of this was going on, I was trying to determine if I should again help coach my grandson's baseball travel team. It seems I cannot say no to a request to become a volunteer.
All of us have received extensive education and training in our profession. We are experts in our field. I am a mechanical zero but can bore you to death talking about the theory of the donor pyramid. In our profession, the majority of us work very hard each day to provide positive results for the organizations we serve. Many individuals work 50-plus hours a week plus nights and weekends. Each fiscal year seems to run together as you have no time to celebrate achieving a fiscal-year goal.
One thing is for sure. We have to be accountable in our profession. That is why we have chief financial officers. They constantly question, probe and inquire as to when we will receive the next gift. While work is extremely important, I believe all of us can still give more to the society we serve in a volunteer role. Please ask yourself: When was the last time you gave back to the profession?
The big question is how many of you volunteer for causes in the community that are important to you? Whether it is education, religion, health, social services or another field of endeavor, your talents are needed in a variety of ways. I mentor when asked because I love to teach. I also like to make presentations to groups about general aspects of philanthropy. At times, I enjoy directing board workshops or working with development staffs on strategic planning. You will also see me doing hard labor because we must do whatever it takes to get the job done.
When you volunteer, do you get out of your comfort zone? Have you talked to your community foundation or United Way leadership to see what organizations can use volunteer help? Every organization needs some type of assistance or a fresh perspective on solving an old problem. I try to play a leadership role in organizations as it helps me view the world from both a staff and volunteer perspective. Volunteering actually helps me think about my job from a different side of the fence.
I truly believe our field has elements of art and science embedded in its core. If you talk to 10 development professionals, you may receive 10 different views of the same picture. The answer is based upon many factors, but it shows the diversity of our profession. Many organizations simply cannot afford full-time paid staff and must rely on active and retired professionals for advice and guidance.
I strongly encourage every person in our profession to volunteer and give back to help to others. Giving is what makes our profession special and unique. In truth, all of us are volunteer consultants in the sense we have acquired skills and experiences that are transferable to others. Even if you feel you have given back for many years, take a deep breath and volunteer again. To those who are just entering the field, work and volunteer at the same time. Who knows, you might eventually work for the cause that is currently your focus for volunteer service.
That is what I love about our profession. We have those who talk the talk and walk the walk! Giving back isn't just for a designated Tuesday. It is a state of mind that must be shared each day of our lives.
F. Duke Haddad, EdD, CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, he is also president of Duke Haddad and Associates, LLC, and freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the past 13 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration, master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.