‘Would you consider becoming a Trustee?’, I was asked. Pretty much on the spot I said yes. One of the best decisions I ever made, and one that led to my role at Tiny Tickers a few years later. Others might not find that volunteering for a charity has quite the same career-changing impact on them, but if you get just a small percentage of the satisfaction, enjoyment, learning and friendship that I have since I first became a volunteer, it will be well worth it.
This week is Volunteers Week – a chance for small charities like Tiny Tickers to say a great big ‘thank you’ to those who give their valuable time, skills and efforts to help us.
My first experience as a volunteer was that Trusteeship (at another heart charity). Trustees are responsible for the governance of charities. I was working in the media at the time, with no charity experience, so it was fascinating to learn how a small, regional charity operated.
Basically, I caught the bug. I loved the feeling of making a difference. I enjoyed being able to use my media and marketing skills to help grow the profile and impact of the charity. I wanted more, so took on other volunteering roles. Eventually the bug bit so hard that I went for a full-on change of career and joined Tiny Tickers as chief executive.
Since heading up this wonderful charity, I’ve come to understand the role of volunteers from the other side of the coin. As the leader of a small charity with a vital mission and limited resources, I very quickly recognised just how vital our volunteers are.
We’ve had folks helping us with all sorts of things – the list is nearly endless. Our Trustees are all volunteers – generous with their time, knowledge, advice and stewardship. And we’ve had volunteers assist with everything from our sonographer training to our social media presence and website. From admin tasks; to helping staff conferences and events. Volunteers who have formed our parents and carers panel; those who have raised funds for us. Medical experts who have represented, assisted and advised us. Heart patients young and old, and their families, who have told their stories on our behalf. Even our current logo was produced by a volunteer.
Where would we be without them? We’re a tiny team of four part-time and one full-time employee, so the answer is simple. Our volunteers mean we can punch above our weight. They help us raise money; deliver our projects; and keep the organisation running. They are vital to every aspect of our charity. Without them, we’d have the same ambitions but a lot less impact. With them, we can turn those ambitions into making a real difference for babies with CHD.
Many of our volunteers are from families affected by CHD. Others have no specific link but have a desire to share their skills to help others. Whatever the background and motivation, they are priceless to us.
Tiny Tickers gets so much from our volunteers – and I hope, in return, our volunteers get something from us. My personal experience of volunteering is certainly that the rewards go both ways.
Small charities are very often the heart of their communities – whether that is a geographic community or a virtual one such as the world of CHD families. And volunteers are the heart of small charities like ours.
We couldn’t be more grateful. Happy Volunteers Week, and a great big thank you.
Jon, Tiny Tickers Chief Executive