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An Incredible Cause, and Beyond

Hannah Howard

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the enormity of the problems in the world. What can one little person do to make a difference? Plus, we’re so deeply busy living our own full lives that making time to help others seems like a formidable goal. You can nudge it in a happier direction, even if it’s a small nudge. Putting in a few hours of your time for a nonprofit or charity you believe in can help in tangible, meaningful ways. Plus, you’ll network with great people and have a wonderful time along the way.

Don’t worry, it’s perfectly ok to think “What will I get out of this?” Being a saint is not required, nor is volunteering limited to those few of us with purely selfless motives. Here’s a few of the many reasons why joining a board or a junior board, or putting in some hours for a cause you are proud to support is a brilliant move:

It’s Networking Gold

Watch your professional network flourish. Being on a nonprofit board means you’ll work with smart, interesting, successful people, most of who hail from outside the confines of your professional world. Make friends, and friends of friends, and build relationships with likeminded men and women.

It’s A Smart Career Move

Sure, volunteering can be a practical move to help can broaden your resumé and get new experience, which may help you land your next job. But even if you love what you do and where you work, employers love to see their people involved in their community. You’ll get respect for your important and inspiring extracurricular work.

It’s Important

What stirs you up? There are so many things that matter, that are worth fighting and working and showing up for, big and small. The world needs you.

It’s Satisfying

It feels really good to work for something you deeply believe in. Volunteering helps you grow as you take on new roles and responsibilities, and deal with issues you may not usually encounter in your everyday life. You’ll get to delve into new ideas, explore beyond the silo of your own work, and spend time doing something that matters.

Start on a Junior Board

According to, less than 2% of nonprofit board members are under 30. Junior boards are a great way to begin to change that. Nonprofits convene young professionals to generate new ideas and attract the next generation of donors and volunteers.

It’s Doable

Most junior board and boards require only a handful of meetings and events. You don’t have to sign away your life, just a few hours. It may seem intimidating, but nonprofits are always looking for people with sharp skills and incredible networks (that’s you) to be a part of their work.

You’ll Grow

Board service is a great way to step into a leadership role when you may not be high enough on your company’s totem poll to take charge at work. You’ll not only get to see how an organization operates at its high levels, you’ll play a part in making decisions about finances, leadership, legal issues, and beyond. You’ll come away with smarts, savvy, and valuable skills for your own career.

You’ll Be Happy

“To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.” Those wise words are from Abraham Lincoln. Happiness is a direct result of feeling like you matter and making a real contribution. If you can do that with people who share your values and have a good time along the way, that’s no small thing. 

Hannah Howard, journalist, copywriter, marketing strategist and food expert, has written for The New York Times, AMEX OPEN forum, Serious Eats, Grubstreet, refinery29, and