light_bulb_memoryEvery week I receive several requests from friends, colleagues and organisations to provide donations to non-profit organisations and charities. I am personally, and within our business fortunate to be in the position where I am able to provide cash donations to the causes I believe are worthwhile.

It wasn’t until a few months ago when I joined the committee for one of our children’s sporting clubs that I realised that there were other ways I could contribute so much more.

It is very easy for us to open our wallets and give a cash donation to non-profit organisations and charities we believe in, or have a personal connection with, regardless of whether this donation is large or small. The reality is that most of these organisations don’t have people leading and managing them who have the knowledge and/or experience to do this effectively. Many of these people are volunteers who are more than willing to give up their valuable time to assist, but don’t receive the appropriate training to do so effectively. Unfortunately this is an issue that can’t be avoided as many of these organisations rely on donations and don’t have the funding to be able to afford someone to assist them in this space and if you are donating and/or volunteering you want to see your funds going directly to worthwhile causes and projects as opposed to training.

What I have learnt from my experience is that whilst I could donate cash to assist this club, there were other ways worth a lot more than this that would be of benefit. I spent several hours going through the accounts, working out what had/hadn’t been done in the past, putting together a budget, cash flow forecast and structuring our fees to ensure were covering our costs, writing grants, preparing contracts etc. to ensure the club was viable and had a long term future.

Initially I was lamenting the fact I had volunteered as unfortunately I wasn’t aware just how poorly the club had been managed in the past, but my daughter loves being involved in this sport and there are many other great families who are also involved. This situation really highlighted the fact that just a few hours of my time and knowledge had been invaluable for this club, which otherwise may not have survived the next 12 months. I have now become quite passionate about the club and it gives me a great sense of personal achievement that I have been able to make such a difference.

The next time you put your hand in your pocket to donate, or volunteer to man a sausage sizzle, maybe question what you are contributing. Is this cash going to be used wisely, by a well-managed charity or organisation or is it going to be lost amongst administration and poor management? Should someone else volunteer their time at the sausage sizzle while you devote your time to something that will provide far greater value in terms of what you can contribute to your club, association or non-profit organisation?

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t donate and volunteer, as so many charities and community groups wouldn’t survive if this was the case. But maybe there are other more valuable, rewarding ways that you can utilise your knowledge and experience to further assist a non-profit or charity!