The development and non-profit space can be hard to navigate. If you’re trying to jump in without much experience, it can be overwhelming; if you’re anything like Spark’s member base, you’re also probably pretty busy. So we’re ready to help you figure out how to integrate your passion for a cause into your work and social life.
Without further ado, here are five ways you can blend your desire for impact with how you get your paycheck and how you socialize:
1) Run for it!
Or eat for it. Many non-profits, social service organizations, and philanthropic groups would love to have you fundraise for them through something like a marathon, a triathlon, or, if running yourself ragged through exercise isn’t your thing, dining for dollars. Examples? Spark Board member Jenn Wilcox signed up for the NYC Marathon last fall as a Sole Mate for Girls on the Run, a great non-profit cultivating physical, emotional and social health for girls. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation hosts Dining Out For Life every year, in which 25% of gross sales from participating restaurants go to SFAF’s programs. So, get moving or get chowing.
2) Read, Listen, Meet.
Commit to a once a month lecture/presentation/book club/meeting that addresses your area of philanthropic interest. The Bay Area is home to a lot of great organizations. Interested in international affairs? Grab a buddy and head to one of the World Affairs Council’s lectures. Want to talk about emerging grassroots organizations dedicated to gender equity? Come to Spark’s next Investment Committee meeting. Are you a big politico? Join the SF Young Democrats or Young Republicans (non-partisan? Start your own group!), and head to their happy hours, meet and greets, and politician profile breakdowns.
3) Work for a big company? Look into its corporate social responsibility and/or matching program.
Many companies have a corporate social responsibility program that works to ensure its mission and practices don’t harm and actually benefit the communities it impacts. There are often ways for employees to get involved in CSR programs and even make recommendations. Bigger corporations also often have corporate matching – you tell them you made a donation to a group you feel really passionate about and they match you dollar for dollar. Check with your HR reps and see if your work digs offer this great benefit.
4) Change Roles.
Maybe you’re tired of working for that big company and ready to make a change. Want to be working in the development or philanthropic space? Look for the person who has the career you want and find out how they got there. One way to make a transition into a career that may be very different than the one you are currently in is to show how invested you are in your burgeoning field of interests regardless of your current position. Volunteer your time meaningfully by joining organizations and committees (like the IC at Spark!), working your way up to leadership roles in those spaces, that give you a better understanding of the development and philanthropic landscape and expose you to people who already do this full-time who can help guide your way.
Yep, it can be that easy. Where should you party? The Black and Pink bash, of course, where 100% of proceeds benefit Spark’s amazing grantees! Buy your tickets today before the prices go up on Thursday!