Association Jobs, Association Volunteer, asae, Association Career

Why Volunteer Experience Matters In Your Association Career Portfolio

There are ton of volunteering benefits.

Volunteer work and experience are important for individual improvement and professional development. The association industry has a massive volunteer workforce — Much of how associations operate is directly impacted by how many and how involved the volunteers are.

Most positions in an association have a primary job duty of managing volunteers.

Volunteer management is also a sought after skill on most open association job positions.

Whether you work for a trade association or are searching for a professional association job, volunteer experience is critical to gaining vital leadership skills. On top of that, it helps develop better knowledge of how volunteers like to work and what drives them.

Already fluent in volunteer work? Check out these must know association job search tips.

Did you know that 80% of employers claim that employees who volunteer more easily transition into leadership positions?

According to the 2016 Deloitte Volunteer Impact Research, 82% of hiring managers say they are more likely to choose a candidate with volunteer experience as opposed to someone who doesn’t put volunteer experience on their resume.

Only one third (32%) of job seekers include volunteer experience on their resume.

If you don’t have volunteer experience or you do and you choose not to include it on your resume, here’s your wake up call.

In the association industry, the aforementioned statistics are likely conservative due to the volunteer-driven culture related to most association jobs.

If you are considering switching association jobs, especially if you’re shooting for a promotion in title (manager to director, director to vp, etc.) know this:

Volunteer work could be the catalyst in your resume that will make you stand out from other candidates.

Check out these association jobs

How Volunteer Work Can Help Your Association Career

Volunteering Helps You Understand How To Lead and Empower Volunteers

Some associations are purely volunteer driven.

Others have volunteer committees meant for specific purposes and initiatives.

Many associations rely heavily on their volunteers because they help drive success.
benjamin franklin teach me quote










Let’s face it.

At some point when working for an association, regardless of your title, position or department, volunteer management is an essential skill to have.

Benjamin Franklin once said,  “Tell me and I’ll forget. Teach me and I’ll remember. Involve me and I’ll learn.”

What better way to understand how to lead volunteers than become a volunteer yourself?

On top of that, volunteers are mainly driven by purpose and mission. Learning how to lead and generate results based on purpose rather than a monetary outcome is a valuable leadership asset to possess.

Volunteer Work Shows Employers You Go Above and Beyond

A big fear of recruiters and employers is that the candidate might be looking for another stint in their life to get by. Employers don’t want people who come to work just to show up to a check and a chair.

Employers do want individuals with passion and dedication; they want candidates who have proven themselves as individuals who want to make a positive impact to an association.

There arehundreds of association jobs with several association professionals applying to each one… if every resume looks about the same with several years of association experience at a few different shops what do you think will make a candidate stand out?

Remember, only one in three candidates put volunteer work on their resume.

All the more reason to consider searching for a volunteer opportunity or including it on your professional portfolio.  

Volunteering Is a Great Way to Network With High Profile Association Professionals

Still looking for a reason to volunteer your time to an organization or a cause?

If you have trouble networking or you’re hitting dead ends trying to make connections with high profile association execs, a volunteer group may be the answer.

Think about the type of people who volunteer. They are likely the leaders you want to know and have in your network.

These committees typically have several VP or C-Suite volunteers involved on them and could potentially give you an easy in to build your network.

People who volunteer, especially within an ASAE volunteer opportunity, are exactly the connections you need to make to move up the association career ladder.

Where to Start your Volunteer Career

A great place to start is ASAE. They have several volunteer committees that open up year round and are available to all ASAE members.

Plus, if you’re looking to diversify your association work experience, apply to an ASAE committee that is unrelated to your current job title.

Volunteer work is an excellent way to show that you understand and you are capable of learning other business functions within an association. If you’re looking to get to an exec or CEO position, volunteering for ASAE is critical experience to have.

If you’re not a member of ASAE, don’t worry — there are plenty of volunteer opportunities you can join.

Here are some different volunteer examples you can look into:


  • Ask around your neighborhood. There is likely a volunteer committee running your neighborhood association that needs help.
  • Support a cause you care about. Most cities are ripe with local chapters of nonprofits like The Humane Society, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, The American Heart Association, etc.
  • Start your own volunteer group. Adopt a city street with friends in your neighborhood. Organize a 5k run to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House. Build awareness on social media about a cause you really care about. These can all be done, however it’s important to find a cause that you’re passionate about because you’ll be more likely to follow through.




Volunteer experience will put you ahead of other candidates when searching for new association jobs. Keep in mind though — it’s important to find volunteer work that you’re passionate about.

Give your time to a cause that you care about and it will help you grow professionally.

It’s important to be part of a bigger picture — whether you volunteer for ASAE or your local soup kitchen, what you do when you volunteer genuinely helps other people.


Career, Development