By Caroline Oblack, 2019 Apra Board Member, and Amy Turbes, Past Apra Board Member and Past Apra-Great Plains Board Member
The Apra Board of Directors is often asked, “What is it like to volunteer for Apra, and how do I become more involved?” Volunteering with Apra can be such a rewarding and fulfilling experience. It is a great way to meet other professionals in the field of prospect development and strengthen your network. It’s also a great way to learn more about the trends in our profession that can help strengthen the work that you’re doing to support your organization’s mission, as well as build leadership skills that could help advance your career. Several Apra members have stated that they see their Apra volunteer service as a way to give back to the organization that has helped them accomplish their professional goals. Apra seeks volunteers on an annual basis to help achieve the organization’s strategic initiatives in several areas such as education, advocacy, membership, ethics, chapters and more. Speaking at conferences and writing for Connections are also great volunteer opportunities.
Start Local: Volunteer with Your Chapter
If you’re unsure where to begin looking for volunteer opportunities, one of the best places to start is with your local Apra chapter. Chapters are always looking for new volunteers. There are short-term opportunities, like helping at a conference or hosting a meet-up for chapter members in your area. There are also longer-term commitments, such as serving in a leadership role on the chapter board. Each chapter is unique and so are the many volunteer opportunities. As an added bonus, Apra Chapter conferences are often an introduction to newcomers to prospect development and the wonderful professionals in it.
Think Global: Volunteer with Apra International
If you want to volunteer with Apra International, the best way for volunteer leaders to know you are interested is by filling out the Apra volunteer survey, available year-round. The survey highlights many opportunities and allows you to select areas that interest you most and suit your strengths. Most Apra International volunteer experiences last one year, starting in September and ending in August of the following year. Some committees keep volunteers longer, depending on the committee’s goals. When it is time to recruit for committees, many committee chairs use the survey to help them find new volunteers. Committee chairs and Apra staff members also utilize the search function in the Apra Membership Directory to find members interested in volunteering, so keep your Apra profile up to date. Sometimes it can be as simple as telling another volunteer you are interested in getting involved. If someone knows you through your network or an Apra chapter, they can recommend you to committee chairs filling open committee spots.
How to Be a Great Volunteer
As a volunteer-run organization, we seek dedicated professionals who are committed to continuing Apra’s mission. As a volunteer, it is integral that you understand the role and time commitment. It is the duty of the volunteer to show up, participate, communicate and follow through. Prospect development professionals tend to be a humble and generous group who are willing to take on a lot. A good volunteer knows their boundaries and says “no” to a volunteer opportunity when they can’t complete it or give it the full attention it needs. Apra wants your volunteer experience to be as beneficial to you, as the work you provide benefits other members.
We hope that the examples we’ve provided have intrigued you enough to start thinking about how you might share your talents and volunteer with Apra. Please contact your local chapter if you wish to volunteer in that capacity. If you wish to volunteer for Apra International, we encourage you to visit our recently updated committee and volunteer webpage to view the different opportunities available, and then complete the volunteer survey to share your interests with the Apra Board of Directors and Apra staff.
If you are attending the Apra Prospect Development conference in Phoenix, please join us for the “Get Involved with Apra!” session, on Thursday, Aug. 1 at 8:30 a.m. MST. This is a great opportunity to share your interest and questions with both current and former Apra Board Members and other volunteers. Please feel free to reach out to any of us via email or phone, as well — we’d be happy to talk with you and help you get more involved with Apra!