By Julie Oshins, “Play It Forward”
Vol.un.teer.ing (n.) is generally considered an altruistic activity and is intended to promote good or improve human quality of life. In return, this activity produces a feeling of self-worth and respect; however, there is no financial gain.
For the bulk of my DJ business, I have allotted one event a month to donate my services to a charity or non-profit. I don’t go seeking out these opportunities, I just hold a space for them if and when a request comes in. And, I don’t always say yes, it depends on my availability.
I know some DJ’s balk at “doing something for free,” however, I look at it two ways: I don’t always have the monetary means to make a difference with an organization I care about but I own my equipment, and all it costs me is my time. Secondly, it is exposure to a new community of people that I may not have met on my own. I have to tell you I have generated a good 25% of my business from referrals for services provided at pro-bono events.
There are ways to negotiate your donation for maximum benefit. I always insist on logo prominence in programs, posters and on websites when possible. I am considered a sponsor and thanked publicly along with the other sponsors.
If there are goody bags, I can put my business card or postcard in the bag that goes home with attendees. And, there are certain aspects that are deductible on your taxes. (Speak to your accountant about what that might look like for you). Simply, it is an opportunity for me to showcase my talents, practice, and be seen!
I am bringing this topic up because I donated my services last month for my neighborhood Labor Day Weekend Block Party. I wasn’t working that day, and thought it would be a great way to market myself to my neighbors.
The woman organizing the event referred me to an event for the very large advertising agency she works for (who kept me for 1.5 hours overtime!) and I’ve booked two other parties so far from that one event.
Volunteering has personal benefits as well. You get a chance to give back.You get to support community resources that you use or that benefits the people you care about.
It’s good for you, too! Many studies claim that helping others kindles happiness. By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being able to help others delivers immense pleasure. Human beings are hard-wired to give to others.
The more we give, the happier we feel. Optimism and Joy strengthening the immune system! Experts also report that it can reduce stress because when you focus on someone other than yourself, it interrupts the usual tension-producing patterns.
I invite you to build your generosity muscle, and say YES! Chances are you, literally, will be happy that you did!
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. – Mahatma Ghandi