A few years ago, I started a new job in the meetings industry where I got to work with volunteers for the first time in my life. And WOW! I must say that I had never expected the kind of commitment they present.
I work as a meeting designer for one of Denmark’s largest associations where members can join networks within their industry and/or interests. We have networks within building, technology, energy, and global development to name a few. And they are all run by volunteers.
Each network has a number of network meetings every year where members can gather to learn what is new within their field. The content of these network meetings is curated by the board of each network, while I coordinate and market these meetings, and I am really impressed by the amount of work these boards put into their meetings. They plan really interesting top-notch meetings that are state of the art in their areas.
Besides spending lots of time planning meetings for their network, some of these volunteers also spend extra time being on the steering committee for the large conferences we have as an association. For these conferences, several networks join forces to be able to arrange larger events where we gather hundreds of attendees. These are the events I design together with a team of colleagues, but I rely on the input from these volunteers as they are the ones who know the subject by heart.
I know that volunteering is big in some countries (I don’t think an American association would ever have a large conference or Annual General Meeting without having some sort of volunteering involved), but I have never experienced this kind of commitment in the Danish meetings industry before (though, I am sure that there are lots of other places in Denmark where volunteering is big – like at sports associations etc.). And I have to commend our members for being so active: It is highly appreciated and we could not do it without you!
Now that I have seen what volunteers can accomplish, I have decided to enter association life in my spare time as well: I have joined the board of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) in Denmark. Read more about this next week.
See you on the blog…or out there volunteering. Meanwhile, make sure your volunteers get candy for their work – like the picture shows :o)