How to be a more valuable volunteer.

There is a simple truth about value. It is directly related to contribution. To increase your value you have to increase your contribution. Which means if you want to earn more money, have more friends or increase your influence you have to contribute more. If you don’t contribute your time, talent or treasure to others you have no value to them. And there are nothing but zeros on your reality check.

Tackle Football

My son Johann is in 6th grade and began his first year of tackle football this fall. When your children commit to a fun activity like sports, scouting or full-contact charades, the parents commit to the less fun activities that come with it. Like fundraising, Saturdays in the rain, and required volunteer work. #oxymoron

Volunteering

Typically when we look at the list of volunteer opportunities we seek out the easiest one. We try to take the path of least resistance before anyone else beats us to it. But this fall I decided to take a different approach. I sought out Johann’s head coach after a preseason practice and asked him a simple question:

What job is the hardest to find volunteers to do?

Instead of looking for the easiest and most convenient job, I wanted to provide the greatest value to the coach, the program and the other parents. The volunteer coaches are already contributing more to the program than I ever could. The least I could do was make the unrewarding job of asking for volunteers a little easier by taking the least desirable task off the volunteer board.

The game day volunteer opportunities included:

  • Video taping the games  (Although there is no tape involved)
  • Running the scoreboard (Although neither the scoreboard nor the operator do any actual running)
  • Announcer  (You get to tell everyone you have no idea what you are talking about.)
  • Chain Gang#1  (Also known as the Chrissie Hynde role)
  • Chain Gang#2  (Electric Boogaloo)
  • Chain Gang #3 (Which is never as good as the original)
  • Pre-Concession (You do this before you concede)
  • Post- Concession  (You try to sell people posts)

The Answer

I really had no idea which role the coach would say was the most challenging. But I was prepared for the worst. The coach immediately responded, ‘Announcer is always the hardest.’

I immediately volunteered to announce the games. And with that offer I gave him one less thing to worry about. I could see both the relief and the appreciation on his face. And I knew this would not be the last time I used the path-of-most-resistance technique to determine my volunteer activities.

Key Takeaway

Your success in life is directly related to your contribution. So step up and contribute where it is most valued. Take the hard roles to fill, not the easiest or most convenient. Seek more responsibility, not less. Give others less to worry about and more to enjoy. Become someone others can count on. It pays off in rewards too numerous to count.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this story, please share it with them. 

How do you respond when someone asks for a HUGE favor?

I recently received a cryptic text from my good friend Stacy Sollenberger in Atlanta. It simply said, ‘Do you have a few minutes to talk? I have a HUGE favor to ask you.’ My curiosity was piqued. What could Stacy’s huge favor possibly be? Does she need me to take in one of her brainiac kids for a summer to teach them what a non-brainiac parent is like? Does she need a kidney? Does she need bail money? (I figured it was bail money). Either way, huge favors are interesting. Because having to ask someone for a huge favor is an inherently awkward situation.

Which begs the question, how do you respond when someone asks you for a huge favor? Do you lean in and want to help any way you can? Do you open up your excuse case (the buck-passing cousin to the suitcase) and pull out a good excuse because you are not into offering favors? Do you worry that the favor, and therefore your personal sacrifice will be too great? Or does it all depend on who is asking?

Now, back to the story.

Stacy called the next morning and revealed the favor…

Stacy co-chairs a remarkable organization called Emerge Scholarships. They offer academic scholarships to women whose educations have been interrupted, who are doing everything they can to better their lives, despite facing and overcoming some ridiculous obstacles. The kicker: to earn the scholarship you also have to be giving back to your community.

Stacy asked me if I would be willing to MC Emerge Scholarship’s annual celebration luncheon. What The What? This was no HUGE favor. This was a HUGE opportunity for me to help a great organization in its efforts to help others. Not to mention it’s an opportunity to dust off my powder blue bell-bottomed tuxedo.

She said, “We want the event to be fun, and uplifting and a good time for everyone.”  Which was perfect, because I triple majored in those areas in college.  I was all in on this favor. So we began planning.

The more I heard about the women Emerge Scholarships helps the prouder I was to be involved. I heard story after story of inspiring  women who had faced things that would cause others to throw in the proverbial towel on their dreams. Disease, divorce, abuse, poverty, etc. Yet these women were determined to complete their education in order to become the person they had always envisioned, and provide a better future for their families. On top of that, the eligible women were all helping others, despite facing real struggles themselves. This is a special sub-set of human.

The vetting process is so thorough, and the candidates so worthy, that this doesn’t even feel like a charitable organization. It feels like an insider-trading deal.  They type of thing Martha Stewart would want in on.  Betting on these women is a sure thing. They are absolutely determined to make the most of the opportunities they have been given. If you are looking for an idea for an inspirational book or movie, talk to one of these women. And my agent. #FindersFee

Emerge Scholarships is the story of strong women who have had great success in life helping other strong women who know that their success is waiting for them, just on the other side of their college degrees.

So I have a HUGE favor to ask of you.

Find a cause you believe in and dedicate a portion of your time every month to helping others who need it. If you are looking for a great cause, and you are in the Atlanta area, and you are a human between the ages of 2 and 122, check out emergeluncheon.swellgives.com. Consider attending the event on Thursday, February 16th. It’s at the Cherokee Country Club in Buckhead (if they will let me in the place, anyone can get it). If you can’t attend, it would he helpful to donate a couple of dollars or offer a quick share of the event on The Twitter or The Facebook.

We should all remember that the more we give, the more we shall receive. And it is immensely enjoyable to give. Especially to those who deserve it, appreciate it, and do their part to amplify the contributions of others.

Thanks for the opportunity, Stacy.  Oh, and I’m not really wearing a blue tuxedo.  An event like this deserves the orange one.