Some of the most successful people in the world have imposter syndrome: feelings of self-doubt and insecurity, low self-worth, and a sense that you are not qualified or deserving of a job. Even if you have impressive qualifications and strong skills, imposter syndrome can make someone feel isolated or as though they don’t belong.
While feelings of self-doubt are common, you don’t have to live with them. One of the best ways to counteract imposter syndrome is to volunteer your skills. Volunteering allows you to flex your expertise, add experience to your resume, leverage your skills to gain leadership experience, and more—all while providing much-needed support to nonprofits.
You WILL make a difference
Most nonprofits don’t have access to all the resources, funding, and qualified talent they need to function optimally. Donating a few hours of your professional expertise can help an organization fill those gaps. For example, if a nonprofit is looking for help with design, your three years of graphic design experience is incredibly valuable to them. You can help them achieve something they wouldn’t be able to without your skills.
But does donating one’s knowledge truly make a difference to a nonprofit’s bottom line? Absolutely! In 2019, Taproot and CECP calculated the actual financial impact of an hour of skills-based volunteering, and we determined the average hour of skills-based volunteering was worth $195.
By volunteering your skills, you can take on a project to support the cause of the nonprofit and help advance its mission—without hurting its bottom line.
Here are 5 ways volunteering can counteract imposter syndrome:
1. Build self-esteem and feel valued.
Skills-based volunteering is a wonderful way to share your unique skills and feel appreciated by a new audience. For professionals who have a high level of comfort with their job, or who no longer feel challenged in their day-to-day work, volunteering can give you a renewed sense of your own value, while building self-confidence.
2. Connect with community.
Volunteering can help foster connection with your community, particularly in this more isolating time. With many people working from home, volunteering creates opportunities to build community and form connections with like-minded folks. Volunteering can also be a jumping-off point for deeper engagement with an organization, such as joining a nonprofit’s board of directors.
3. Improve your well-being.
Volunteering feels good! Studies have shown the many benefits of volunteering, including improved mental health. Giving back to your community by helping organizations that need support can make you feel more connected to causes you care about and help move the needle on important issues. And—working on a volunteer project can help you find personal fulfillment and accomplishment, especially when a cause is near to your heart. Helping other people is rewarding, and being in a position of leadership can help build your self-esteem.
4. Keep skills sharp.
Imposter syndrome can make you doubt your skills, but using them to help nonprofits in need will show you just how valuable your insight is. Sometimes nonprofits need a sounding board, and you can provide that needed support. Maybe you have advanced to a strategy position, but you still want to do hands-on work. Or you’re in the midst of a career change and want to keep your knowledge fresh. Skills-based volunteering is a great way to use your expertise and keep your experience top of mind.
5. Grow your network.
Volunteering can help grow your professional network. Taproot’s various opportunities give volunteers the chance to interact with professionals in similar fields, as well as nonprofit leaders who can benefit from your unique expertise. Taproot’s community of nonprofits and business professionals can be a great resource to expand your network.
Dip your toes into volunteering with a one-hour Taproot session!
Are you interested in exploring skills-based volunteering, but aren’t yet ready to commit to a month-long intensive project? If you have three or more years of experience, Taproot Plus Sessions are the perfect way for you to dip your toes into volunteering! Just a one-hour virtual call, a Taproot Plus Session connects a volunteer with a nonprofit, public school, or small business looking for creative brainstorming, project planning, or problem-solving. These hour-long consultations allow community members to ask questions and chat with an experienced volunteer, such as a marketing strategist, IT professional, or data analyst.
Remember that you know more than you think you know, and nonprofits want to tap into that knowledge!