Volunteering: What’s In It For You?

By Gabrielle Copperwheat

We all know that we should volunteer, but how many people actually do it? After working 40 hours a week, taking care of our families, getting some sleep and occasionally having a fun evening out, is there really any time left? And if there is, are you more likely to zonk out on the couch or donate your time to a worthy cause?

Let’s flip the equation and ask, can you really afford not to volunteer? Volunteer experience can showcase and develop skills that complement a typical resume — from leadership to accounting to marketing and communications.

Deloitte recently surveyed individuals in 13 major U.S. metropolitan areas who are currently employed and have the ability to either directly influence hiring or indirectly influence the person making the hiring decision. The results?

  • 86 percent of respondents believe that putting volunteer activities on a resume makes the resume more competitive.
  • 82 percent of survey respondents said they are more likely to choose a candidate with volunteering experience.
  • 85 percent of survey respondents reported that they overlook resume pitfalls when a candidate includes volunteer experience.
  • 92 percent of respondents believe volunteering is an effective way to gain leadership skills.
  • 92 percent of respondents reported that volunteering expands an employee’s professional skill set.
  • 73 percent of respondents believe that people who volunteer are more successful.


In other words, while volunteering helps others, it can also benefit you. It can enhance your core skills, learn new skills, help you get a job, move up the career ladder faster and even pave a path for a promotion into a management position.

Here at CMA Association Management, we know the value of volunteers. Day in and day out, it is volunteers who keep organizations moving forward. Association presidents are volunteers. So are board members, conference chairs and members of every committee. They work hard to make sure that the association runs smoothly, from new member recruitment to managing the annual conference.

“I’ve seen people really blossom through volunteer activities,” said Lynn McCullough, senior client services advisor at CMA Association Management. “We’ve had association members who are salespeople by trade learn to organize a 100-person conference in a new city, event planners who hone their interviewing, writing and editing skills by producing a newsletter and small business owners who learn how to market and recruit new members to their association.”

There’s no limit to the kinds of skills you can gain by volunteering. In the realm of industry associations, experience can include:

  • Strategic planning
  • Budgeting
  • Marketing
  • Membership recruitment and onboarding
  • Writing and editing
  • Social media
  • Event planning
  • Fundraising


If your current job doesn’t involve an opportunity to gain these skills and you’re interested in acquiring them, volunteering can be a great opportunity to make a difference for a cause you love, while at the same time honing skills that may help you land your next job. You may decide to stay in the same industry or switch career paths altogether. Either way, you will have more marketable skills to present to prospective employers.

It’s important to note that volunteering doesn’t have to be an overwhelming commitment. Do you have one hour a week to spare? Or a couple of hours a month? That may be all that’s needed to make a significant contribution. If 20 people volunteer two hours a month, that’s a 40-hour work week and a lot can be accomplished in that time.

Do you know some of the other known benefits of volunteering?

  • Make new friends.
  • Gain professional contacts.
  • Feel a sense of achievement.
  • Learn about different career options.


We can all take a note from the late, great Muhammad Ali, who said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

Gabrielle Copperwheat is the director of operations for CMA Association Management. If you would like to leverage CMA Association Management’s experience, we would love to chat. Please contact us at 800.852.4269 or email us at info@cmasolutions.com.

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