3 Lessons Learned From Workin’ In A Non Profit

Before the summer started, I was pretty bored. All I had was my weekend customer service gig. And fitness time. And this blog. I really needed somethin’ else to do.

So earlier this summer, I decided to volunteer my talents to non profits.

I lucked out with one close by me, to be a marketin’ assistant.

And the experience’s been pretty cool. I’ve haven’t done any non profit work since high school. Where I taught South African children English. And did some community service projects like planting flowers and stuff. So I thought it was gonna take some gettin’ used too. But this time that wasn’t the case…

… At this non profit, I’ve been doin’  very lil’ physical work. It’s mostly computer work (which is awesome).

I was ’round pretty like minded individuals who talk bout marketin’,  sales, as well as pr. It’s purely a start up environment.  Where everybody’s their doin’ their own projects – plannin’ events, researchin’, callin’ up sponsors, etc.

For me – I’m mostly doin’ research for them. And got to show off my actin’ skills in a video too. Which was really fun.

This experience has taught me quite a bit in terms of workin’ in different workplaces.

These are the things that I’ve learned…

Number One

Communication Is Key

This non profit is filled with marketers and pr people and actors and artists. And we’re always plannin’ new and excitin’ events. And since we’re a non profit – we’re always lookin’ for ways to get companies/people to donate. So the top skills I’ve seen bein’ worked on really hard are communication and teamwork.

Someone is always sharin’ a email. Or a spreadsheet. Or a Goggle Doc.

Someone is always on the phone, lookin’ for good way to ask someone to donate their money, energy, and time.

Communication is key. 

It’s the heart and soul of this organization. And I bet a whole lotta of others. Well, successful ones, at least.

I’ve spent years and years doin’ improv in teams, and workin’ the restaurant industry, so bein’ in a team is easy for me.  Actually I prefer it cause I’m mostly an extrovert. And like to be ’round people. But I can work lone wolf style too.

Even though I can be kinda quiet (I’m not super talkative) I seem to do well in workin’ when in teams. And teamwork makes the dream work.

Number Two

A Good Leader Helps A Whole Lot

I’ve read a good amount of books on leadership. ‘Specially Peter Drucker – whose writin’ on management is fairly good. You should check him out.

The leader/founder at my non profit is a good one. He’s pretty patient with everyone, a very skilled communicator, and is very good at assignin’ tasks to volunteers.

One interestin’ thing I’ve noticed that he does is every 20 minutes or so,  he checks in with a person or group to see the progress that they’ve made on a project.

It’s a very good way to stay on top of people. Really keeps us on our toes (since most people can slack off – no matter what their age). There’s also a no cell phone policy too. Which helps with focus.

Number Three 

Structure Is Key 

When I started workin’, I had a orientation, a rule book in the form of a PowerPoint, and a couple other forms. At first, I thought this was unnecessary, but after thinkin’ it over – it was pretty darn necessary.

Also – when I walk in, I’m usually assigned a project to work on right away. And I’m workin’ on that project for the remainder of the day. Sometimes I’m workin’ on two or three projects at a time. That was last week. That was fun.

I like structure. And multiple projects. Keeps morale way up.

Even though this is a start up environment, which is known for bein’ very loose,  that keeps the vibe is cool, but the steady stream of projects and events keep my engine runnin’. Guess that’s why I haven’t left yet, despite workin’ there for 3 months already.

All in all, I’m really happy with my summer work this year, I actually feel of use, where I can be self startin’, be a generalist – cause I have a wide skill set. And just be ’round like minded people.

Highly recommend non profit work. ‘Specially if want to be ’round people, and meaningful work.

Really nice change of pace from the for profit sector.

Later,

Jamual

 

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