The Case For Involvement: Alumnae Volunteerism
You could easily say I spend a great deal of time volunteering for Alpha Omicron Pi. Maybe it’s the opportunity to connect with sisters that drives me. Maybe it’s the chance to travel as I’m a frequent flyer with a status to maintain. Or maybe it’s the prospect of sharing wisdom and advice with our next generation of female leaders that draws me in. But nevertheless, a common conversation in my household can be summarized as “Don’t wait up for me for dinner – I’m with the AOIIs tonight.” Presently, I serve on two Alumnae Advisory Committees (shout out to Alpha Rho and Tau Gamma), I am a member of the Training Ambassador team and member of the Education Committee. I’ve volunteered as a Foundation Ambassador and Scholarship reviewer this past year with the AOII Foundation. I say this not to show off my resume, but rather to demonstrate how often I find myself volunteering time in service to AOII.
As we wrap up another adviser/volunteer appreciation month this April, I find it essential to stop and reflect on why I continue to volunteer and what keeps me motivated. The way I see it, volunteers are the heart of the current and future success of our Fraternity. By giving back to Alpha Omicron Pi as volunteers, we can help shape tomorrow’s leaders, share our unique talents with other alumnae and collegians, and ensure the fraternal experience for years to come. Below are just a few reasons I stay committed to our Fraternity and the reasons I subsequently challenge other alumnae with when I am able (which is constantly):
- It adds perspective to our lives – No matter how you choose to support Alpha Omicron Pi, getting into the trenches of service provides a different perspective on the entire experience, and as an alumna member deepens your connection to the Fraternity. Stepping outside of ourselves to give time to others creates a deeper level of empathy, which can impact areas of our lives outside of AOII. Imagine what we can learn from the next generation.
- It adds time to your day – Not physical time, but numerous studies show that volunteering will make one feel as if they have more time. Results from these studies conclude that giving your time to others can make you feel more “time affluent” and less time-constrained when compared to wasting your time, spending it on yourself, or even getting a windfall of free time. It’s a pretty simple psychological trick, but if you are able to give time to others you begin to realize you have extra time in your life. An added benefit to feeling like you have more time is that your productivity generally increases as a result. Imagine what more you can do with those same 24 hours each day.
- It boosts your resume – A given in today’s society is that many employers, from Fortune 50 companies down to locally owned small businesses, have a focus on corporate social responsibility. Many companies offer paid volunteer time, sponsorship dollars, matching grant programs, and more. And furthermore, the skills needed for many AOII volunteer activities align well with and compliment a myriad of career paths. Why not take the time to support the Fraternity (especially if you are supported professionally) that very well may be the reason for your group of besties into adulthood, the leadership opportunities that helped you land that first job, or the connections that continue to propel your career? Civic mindedness has become an asset in the workplace, as it is a strong indicator for skills like openness, teamwork, talent, and innovation. Imagine the unique professional development you can harness.
- It magnifies giving – According to Independent Sector, the only national membership organization that brings together the charitable community to advance the common good, about 63 million Americans volunteered about 8 billion hours of their time, talent, and effort to improve and strengthen their communities in 2018. Averaging the value of different types of volunteerism (everything from mowing the lawn at a local pre-school to pro-bono legal counsel) a single hour of volunteer time can be valued at $25.43. That’s a total economic impact to the non-profit sector of over $1.6 billion in 2018. Going further, 50% of volunteers say that volunteering time with an organization or cause increases their monetary support, and 45% of volunteers report they share their experience with others. In summary, volunteering saves not-for-profit organizations on their bottom line, generates revenue, and create advocates. Imagine the resources you could add to the Fraternal experience for all the AOIIs that may ever be in time to come.
- It spreads awareness – As individuals volunteer, they become more vested in the mission, and ultimately share this with people closest to them. Whether it’s a social media post, dinner party conversation, writing letters to lawmakers, or inviting someone to join them in volunteering, a mini-campaign has begun. A perfect example of the power of awareness is the Ice Bucket Challenge from 2014, which was a competition to raise awareness for ALS. This challenge led to more than 2.4 million people spreading the word about a relatively unknown disease and leading to over 739,000 new donors to the cause. Imagine the good works we could share and inspiration we could be the catalyst for.
- It increases socializing and ends loneliness – Writing this article while practicing social distancing, it is abundantly clear to me how much more I appreciate the monthly phone calls and periodic check-ins associated with my various AOII volunteer roles. Roughly 45% of adults world-wide report feeling lonely or isolated regularly. One solution: volunteerism. Imagine the network of service-focused women you could create for yourself.
- It’s Impactful – Recalling my own collegiate experience, I was lucky enough to be guided and influenced and mentored by incredible AOII, and other NPC, women. They taught me how to be a professional woman, how to manage my time between being social and service oriented, vouched for character on too many letters of reference to count, and more. As I see it, there is no greater form of advocacy within women’s’ empowerment than 1:1 mentorship. Imagine the doors you could open for another sister.
- It’s a natural ritual fit – I can think of no better way to be reminded of, and in turn live out, the principles of ritual than to spend time in service dedicated to our Fraternity. As alumnae women, we are strong role models for these principles and I believe it to be our duty to put forth into the world the values we aspire to in actionable ways. Imagine the sense of connection to ritual you can create through service.
- It is FUN – Above other more altruistic reasons to volunteer your time with Alpha Omicron Pi, it really is just plain enjoyable. Each year I look forward to late night recruitment meetings with my collegiate chapters, my annual birthday party with alumnae sisters as Training Ambassador training has fallen on my birthday for the past three years, the holiday cards with smiling faces and family updates each December, and the expansive network of sister-friends I couldn’t escape from even if I tried. Through service, I have racked up more than a lifetime’s worth of happy memories spent with sisters because of the simple choice to serve. Imagine the memories you could make.
Contrary to the novel-length article I wrote above, my challenge is simple: As an alumnae member, find a way to get involved with AOII now. What that looks like for each of us may be different. It may be working 1:1 with collegians while serving in an AAC role or 1:1 with AAC members as a Network Specialist. it may be utilizing your years of professional success and experience on a standing committee or you may find yourself on the road with one of our ambassador programs. It may be making a donation of time or cash to the Foundation or learning about alumnae chapter service. Or you can apply for a bit of everything like me. Whatever path you choose, I urge every member of Alpha Omicron Pi to continue to connect through service to the Fraternity.
To learn more about current volunteer opportunities visit the following links:
- International Fraternity Volunteer Opportunities (Includes Network and Standing Committee position descriptions, volunteer application, alumnae chapter information, and ambassador program applications and information)
- Foundation Volunteer Opportunities
- AAC Openings (Use the Chapter Locator to find website and contact information for chapters near you. To become an adviser at the local level, you do not need to fill out a volunteer application – contact the Chapter Adviser listed for your chapter of interest to learn about the chapter’s AAC or volunteer needs)
Leah Horton is an alumnae of Tau Gamma (Eastern Washington U) and a member of the Education Committee. Pictured above: Members of the Education Committee during a 2019 meeting.