“I Think It’s Time We See New People”— Altruism Beyond Your Cause

No one has ever questioned the devotion you have for your cause. In fact, you put in countless hours, sleepless nights and work tirelessly to make sure your cause doesn’t just meet, but exceeds the end-goal.

But what about other causes?

*Cue your reaction* Wait—I’m sorry… huh?

At least that’s what I imagine most of you are saying, staring blankly back at the computer screen. You read that correctly. But who has time to think about other causes when you’ve got an organization that you are completely and hopelessly devoted to? (Sounds kind of like a romantic comedy, doesn’t it?)

Here comes the truth—it would do your organization a world of good to “see new people.” Don’t think of it as cheating. And you’re not divorcing your organization.

It might just be a day away. But getting outside of your cause can make a huge difference. For lack of a better cliche, the world is your oyster. Go explore. Here’s why volunteering outside of your main cause and being altruistically diverse is a beautiful thing.

1. Forget the Tunnel Vision

Zero in on a task and there’s nothing you can’t do. Unstoppable, we say! Sounds great… except for one minor detail. Sometimes we get so zeroed in on a task that we get a nasty case of tunnel vision. Happens to the best of us.

Take this opportunity to step outside of your organization and see how other people are doing it. Just because you’ve been doing something the same way for a long time doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best way. Go in with a blank mind and a clean slate. No agenda. Just observe and see what happens.

You’ll either learn a great new trick, learn that what you’re doing is working or you’ll learn what not to do.

2. Cross Promotion Opportunities

What’s that, you say? You’d love to talk about our organization at your organization because they’re similar?

See—that was easy. Think of your altruistic outing as a networking opportunity. Not the ‘pushy, in-your-face with a business card’ approach. It should be more of a casual mentioning of your cause. It works because your past volunteer experience will definitely come up in conversation.

If they seem genuinely interested in what you do, talk about how you can both provide value to each other. And if not, don’t force it. Sometimes it’s just refreshing to see how someone else is doing things.

3. Practice What You Preach (So You Can Be Better)

Managing volunteers is a huge task in itself. Especially when you don’t know if you’re doing it the right way. You didn’t go to school for this (or maybe you did, but probably not). There’s no manual to get you through this.

So what should you do when the going gets rough? Get going—to volunteer.

It’s hypocritical to tell your volunteer staff how to act a certain way when you don’t know how to follow the instructions yourself. It’ll even provide you with a newfound sense of confidence when you’re tackling the tough issues. You’ve been there, you’ve done that. So when the next challenge comes your way, you’re ready.

How has altruism beyond your cause helped you at your current organization?


Lyndsey Hrabik

Lyndsey is a former editor for Nonprofit Hub and Nonprofit Hub Magazine. She now serves as a guest contributor, writing on topics such as social media, technology, marketing and starting a nonprofit.

November 25, 2013

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