Mark McCurdy is a Sales Rep here at BiddingForGoodand author of an excellent book called Strategic Volunteering: 50 Ingredients to Transform Your Life and Career. I had the chance to sit down with him this week and chat about his experiences volunteering and how he began volunteering at an early age.
“I started through church growing up. My mother ran a small adoption agency, so I would help out there. Volunteerism was always there. Whether it was stuffing envelopes or helping with fundraising. It was a family thing. “
Mark continued to volunteer through high school and college, but it was after he graduated from college that his passion for volunteering really began to flourish. He began to discover a connection between growing personally and professionally through volunteering.
“I began working with an organization that was a staffing company for nonprofits in NYC and I found YNPN (Young Non-profit Professionals Network) which is great resource. They have all different types of events, panel discussions, and volunteer opportunities with non-profits. Now I volunteer with a non-profit called Career Collaborative. I give practice interviews to low income individuals. I have also been on the board for two years for the organization called Adoption and Foster Care Mentoring, and I’m now on the advisory board. I also do the Parkinson’s Unity Walk in Central Park once a year. “
What is the key to volunteering?
“Think about something you are really passionate about. Find organizations that are a good fit for you. If you are interested in cooking or food, try providing meals, feeding the homeless or something around sustainable food sources. Second, if there is something that is really painful in your life, you can use that. Like my father has Parkinson’s. So I’m very passionate about that. Volunteering can be a way to use pain in a good way. “
Mark is very passionate about encouraging others to volunteer to live a fuller and more meaningful life. He explains that volunteering can help you start to bridge the gap between the job you have and the career you want, and also to develop deep gratitude and find joy in your life. Mark even let me in on a secret; volunteering can even make you healthier. He says, “There is a study that shows how volunteering makes you healthier; 6358\mentally and physically. There are several studies out there about it.”
The first study Marked referred to includes this statement from Thomas H. Sander, executive director of the Saguaro Seminar at Harvard University: “Civic Engagement and volunteering is the new hybrid health club for the 21st century that’s free to join. Social capital research shows it miraculously improves both your health AND the community’s through the work performed and the social ties built.”
Mark has some great pointers for our nonprofits:
“Look into YNPN . The other thing is to think about what skills you are looking for and how to find people with them. And focus on skill based volunteering. Volunteers can develop their professional skill set. Don’t forget about AmeriCorpsand LinkedIn. The Job and Non-profits section on Linked In. Volunteer opportunities can be listed there. Also connect with your local One Stop Career Center. “
Mark has really made his passion for helping people and for using his own skills to help others part of his own life’s work. He’s now using his skills here at BiddingForGood to help our nonprofits reach their fundraising goals. He has his own consulting business named “Consulting: The Nonprofit Career Coach.” (Check out his website:www.thenonprofitcareercoach.org.) I had a chance to read Mark’s book and found it informative and inspiring! His book is available on amazon.com and I promise it will allow you to see volunteering in a whole new way!