Early Memories of Nonprofit Involvement

On Tuesday, I went to the first half of a workshop at Rollins College’s Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership Center. I’m taking the course to receive a certificate in Volunteer Management. Much of my professional career has been spent in nonprofit organizations, most of which have solid infrastructures in place and I spent two years studying leadership to earn my Master’s degree. However, if you work in nonprofit and want to continue your eduction, I’d recommend looking into the programs Rollins offers. They are reasonably priced, quite comprehensive and a great value (in my opinion).

Anyway…onto the point of this post. At Tuesday’s session, we were asked to reintroduce ourselves after lunch and then share our earliest memory of involvement with nonprofit organizations. Many of the answers were Brownies, Girl Scouts, etc. While I was certainly involved in that, I recalled something earlier than that.

Every year, my Grammy gave us little Coke cans that we used to collect coins to give to the Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon missions offerings at church (what’s up, Southern Baptists!!). My Mom would have to give the more approximate age, but I had to have been 4 or 5. I remember that Kati and I always loved doing that. Although we wouldn’t have been able to articulate it this way when we were younger, it must have given us a sense that we were able to give to something greater than ourselves.

After sharing that in our class, my mind started reeling; remembering other volunteer-like opportunities when I was young (young=elementary school)…

  • Going to the nursing home with my grandparents to lead a little church service on Sundays.
  • Collecting food for others less fortunate.
  • Teaching a classmate to speak English after she was adopted from a Spanish speaking country.
  • Giving change to the Salvation Army at Christmas time…AND ringing the bell at those collection points with my Grandaddy.

In the class, the point of this exercise was to cause you to think how early you’d allow children to have some kind of interaction with your nonprofit. But, for those of us with influence in lives of little ones, it also caused me to think: What are you doing to introduce the idea of giving to the little ones who are looking at your example? They’ll think back on it one day. And, will they have a worthy example to follow?

So…I’d love to hear…

  • What’s your earliest memory of involvement in a nonprofit organization?
  • And/or what opportunities are you giving your kids (or the kids who you interact with) to learn the importance of giving back?



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