Tuesday, January 7, 2014

In Service, The Series - Give Back Village

I often commit to more than I can handle. This isn't news to me or anyone else. While working on the business plan I decided "No more volunteering!" I think 5 things to give my time to is a nice round prime number. And I told people that 5 would be my limit.

And I've sort of stuck with that... sort of.

The folks at Give Back Village got in touch with me over the summer. I had already used their service and fallen in love with their business concept - online shopping for local stores and services at a discount with the revenue raised going to local not for profit organizations. We had a great meeting, turns out the founder and acting ED is the mother of someone I've gone to school with since Grade Two! We decided to work together.

I trained the ED and three staff on using Twitter and Facebook, put together a calendar with guidelines on what and when to post, helped them target a more local crowd on Twitter and helped them understand how to use Google Analytics better to track where traffic to their e-commerce site is coming from.

Not long into our working together did it become clear that there was certainly a lot more I could offer and more help they could use, being only a four person team (with two of them being part time!). They knew I was at a maximum for volunteering and I knew they were at a maximum for budget... Where to go from here?

Then Joanne, the ED, made the ask that I'm sure she has become very good at making thanks to her years of working with not for profits, "We have an opening on the board, would that interest you?"

Well of course, that changes the equation. We are no longer talking about giving time, we are also talking about taking ownership over the success of the organization. Despite my ban on volunteering more, I was in fact looking for a board position somewhere, but hadn't found the right place yet.

Right question, right time I guess!

I've been on the board with Give Back Village now since September. I'm super excited about it not only because I love the concept, but also because it is a start-up, arguably still in the first year of operation, and because I am really stretching my skills!

Since I've joined the board I've taken part in both the marketing and the technical side which is exciting to me. I've had years of experience in retail marketing but e-commerce is another beast entirely. I've gotten to dive more deeply into website analytics, coding, design, as well as infrastructure.

And I realized that saying "No more volunteering" doesn't necessarily serve me well. There are times when I can get even more out of a volunteering opportunity than what I'm giving. From now on, I only take on more unpaid work when it lets me learn, test or practice something new.

I definitely have more to say about Give Back Village, about the great concept, about the value it provides to local business, not for profit organizations and consumers, but that's it's own post for another day. That shouldn't stop you from going and buying something right now though :-)

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