Value and Importance of Volunteerism

By LauraJane Hyde, Executive Director, Gilda’s Club Chicago


For me, the recent election brought home the importance of internal communications.  When messaging within an organization isn’t consistently on point, that disparity gets magnified to the outside world.  Unfortunately, due to limited resources that can happen in a non-profit.  Volunteers are a tremendous resource in making sure the mission message remains focused. 


Depending upon the non-profit, there are a number of internal audiences.  At Gilda’s Club, ours extends beyond the staff and Governing Board to our Associate, Honorary and Medical Resource Boards, volunteers, donors, media, the medical community, and our members.  With a small organization – $1.25M budget, nine staff, and 5,800 members – we have only been effective due to volunteer support.


At the strategic level, we have been fortunate over the past 10 years to have pro bono support from three terrific agencies, Canright Communications, BrainForest, and most recently s2 marketing + communications.  From annual reports to brochures to invitations to ads to the website, these communications professionals are critical to our efforts to put a welcoming face on cancer support.


In terms of PR, our greatest success has been driven by Board members who come from broadcast and print media, and PR professionals on our Associate Board.  We are quick to respond to media requests for the “member response” to a breaking cancer story.  Our greater challenge has been in securing ongoing pro bono support to drive features, and with the recent addition of a few PR mavens to our Board, I hope we may be able to secure additional resources on that front. Which leads me to this story’s pitch…


One way to ensure a meaningful volunteer experience is to marry your personal and professional passions.  Like non-profit professionals, PR professionals know that we don’t have jobs – we have lifestyles.  So find a non-profit that could benefit from your expertise, and jump in with both feet!  You won’t regret it.

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