Should I Join a Committee?

Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” William Penn

We only have so much time, which is one of our most precious resources. We also have a lot of goals that we want to reach, and there are many tasks that it takes to get there. Despite of this, we should volunteer some time and give back to society. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because altruism is good for our mental health.

What makes a good committee fit?

Being on a committee sounds great. Being on a non-profit committee looks amazing on a CV. On top of it, you get to serve on a committee that is fulfilling a purpose you believe in. It’s really a good way to be part of the community and helping others.

But, what makes a particular committee and cause a good fit?

  1. They don’t ask for more of your time than you have to give.
  2. The mission of the organisation fits with your values and interests.
  3. Your network can help them grow, their network can help you grow.
  4. The people on the committee are capable of doing their roles so not everything relies on you.
  5. Your particular skills and passions can help them meet their objectives — or you can learn those skills and objectives.

Those are the basics that will come in handy. Some organisations will just ask you for some feedback, while others might ask you for a lot more hands on approach. Ask what they want and expect from you long before you say yes.

My personal experience with a non-profit committee.

The committee I am on is STEM Scouts, a division of the Boy Scouts. They have an after school programme that gathers at a local school where they talk science, get a mini lecture, then get to play with a hands on science project. Can you see why I thought it’s a perfect fit for both myself and Insanitek?

I really believe in the value of education, experience, and skills that science can teach a student of any level (#2, check). I was a corporate sponsor first, so Insanitek pays the insurance on the labs I sponsor. Those are the same labs that students meet at to do some hands on science and earn a Boy Scouts badge. Every once in a while when my schedule permits, I stop by the labs and see that the kids are having fun. It’s nice to see.

They ask me to show up to meeting once a month and give feedback for the most part, and while they ask me to help them with signup drives, it isn’t reliant on me showing up (#1, semi-checked). I rarely have the time to help them during the sign up drives. I work full time on my own business, so I don’t have the luxury to take off half a day and talk to parents and children about the wonders of hands on science. Which is a shame, really, considering how much I believe in the power of science. But, when you’re working poor, you gotta sing for your supper first.

I gotta admit, I’m mostly useless on this committee (#4, check). They don’t need me to get things done, but they did ask me to be on the committee to add when I could. I’ll explain more below why I’m not particularly a good fit for them.

Their growth objectives revolve around begging for money and getting people to sign up for the labs. I don’t have a lot of time to devote to their growth, nor do I have a network with deep pockets (#3, check fail). The main concern of these guys is really that money flow. They get paid from each person that signs up, they get donations from corporations, and they get donations from anyone that donates to them. Don’t ask me where the money goes since everyone that works with them to facilitate all this is volunteer and gets no pay. I think it goes to the Boy Scouts staff member, marketing, and paying the school for the use of their room.

Regardless, I am working on the skills of marketing and networking for myself, Insanitek, and them as well. (#5, semi-fail). I admit, I’m terrible at networking. I’m also terrible about asking people to donate when I don’t think the system is fair. After all, I see how much money is being raked in and not how it’s being spent.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m not enamoured with my experience so far only because I don’t see complete transparency on the money front.

Is joining a committee a good use of time?

If giving back to your community and being part of an organisation that is doing things you believe in isn’t enough to make you donate some time, think of it from a personal growth perspective. The truth is that looking good on a resume or CV is the best part about it, especially if you’re constantly on the move and growing. It’s also great to strengthen and challenge yourself along the way. You’ll be asked to stretch yourself in the marketing and networking arena for them, while also balancing what is good for you and your reputation.

In the end a committee is a lot of fun. It can be a bit of work, too, but work that forces you out of your comfort zone to growth. If it’s an organisation and mission that you can get behind 100%, then it’s worth it.

Have you ever been on a committee? What have you learnt? Get the convo going down below.

Want to chat over tea?
In February’s webinar (13.Feb) we’ll be talking tactics for which professional groups you should join to further your career and life. We’ll be looking at how to strike a balance between spending money and gaining a lot of opportunities. Click here to get a reminder email for this webinar and sign up for your SciBusiness membership.