At Cause Inspired Media, it is no secret that our team cares about philanthropy. Whether its fostering senior dogs, volunteering at a food pantry, giving tours at a local museum, or mentoring younger children, our team values giving back to the communities we hold close to our hearts.
We took the time to sit down with one of our Digital Strategists, Katie, and one of our Digital Analysts, Sarah to discuss their experiences volunteering. Here are their thoughts:
Where do you two volunteer?
Sarah: I primarily volunteer with St. Johns County’s Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter.
Katie: This is a long list…generally I volunteer with animal-related organizations like SAFE and The St. Augustine Wild Reserve. But I have also volunteered with the St. Johns County Council on Aging and Dining with Dignity, among others.
What inspired you to volunteer in the first place?
Sarah: My Great Uncle grew up in Wisconsin and was both bi-polar and dyslexic. While he was growing up, he had a Big Brother who guided him through Middle School and High School. This was during an era when people with mental disabilities were often looked down upon, and didn’t have many career opportunities. My Great Uncle didn’t necessarily have the greatest life, but my Grandma would constantly talk about how much BBBS impacted his life in a positive way. So, when I got to college and went to my first Career Fair, I noticed a booth for BBBS of St. Johns County and I decided to sign up because it reminded me of the family connection.
Katie: Other than the fact that volunteer hours were required in high school, when I started college, I came across an opportunity to walk dogs at a local shelter. I started doing that for a while, but it quickly became a way for me to explore and learn more about the St. Augustine community. I had a lot of spare time through my college career, and when I wasn’t working, spending it volunteering seemed like an obvious choice. Especially when you see how grateful everyone is for your help, it really makes the experience feel special and meaningful.
What are some of your favorite things about volunteering?
Sarah: Specific to BBBS, I really love spending time with kids. I have 3 little brothers, so being around younger children and young adults gives me the opportunity to influence them to make the right decisions, and have a better way of thinking. My favorite part of volunteering in that sense is the lasting impact I can have on these kids. Unlike most jobs, my experience at BBBS has mostly been instantly gratifying because you can see your good deeds affecting others immediately.
Katie: I think my favorite part of volunteering is finishing a task, and then actually getting to see the difference you’ve made. The feeling you get after knowing you’ve had a positive impact on the world is such a great feeling.
Have you been surprised by anything you’ve gained from your experiences volunteering?
Sarah: I think like a child [laughter]. Really…I have a God-Daughter, and lots of young children in my family, but although I was around them a lot growing up, I never really sat down and acted like a kid with them. But when I’m spending time with my Little Sister and her friends, they play imaginative games, involving things like dragons, fairies, wizards, and other stuff. It’s so cool because when I leave them, I never stop thinking like that. It has helped me to become more open-minded, imaginative and carefree.
Katie: I have been mostly surprised by the knowledge I’ve gained from the organizations. Anytime you volunteer, you essentially join the community of other volunteers and staff that run the organization. Often times, they love sharing and talking about their lives and experiences with the organization. Building relationships with everyone I have worked with has really helped me learn so much about the St. Augustine community and has given me a much greater sense of belonging and knowledge of the local area.
How do you feel your experience volunteering has impacted you as a person?
Sarah: I think its given me a bigger sense of time commitment and commitment in general. When you have a Little to mentor, you can’t just decide to quit or not show up. That can effect them for the rest of their year, or elementary school career, and can be very harmful to their growth. When I started, I had to seriously consider whether or not I could handle the time commitment. It’s totally changed my mindset in that I was never as careful with my time, but when I started volunteering with BBBS, I really had to focus on that commitment, and it has translated into almost every other area of my life.
Katie: I think I’m a better person for sure. I think volunteering and hearing all the good work that people do gives you a sense of purpose and can really make you feel like you’ve done something positive to make a difference. It seems selfish, but the personal gratification from a job well done has been huge.
How do you feel your experience volunteering impacts your work with our nonprofit clients?
Sarah: I think that I know their audiences better because I am a part of their audience. I think that when I make an ad or add keywords, or anything else I do for a client that is based around volunteering, or selling a product or service that helps support an organization, I always imagine what I might do if I was the one searching or looking for something to click on. Not because I feel like everyone thinks exactly like me, but because I think it’s important to put yourselves in the shoes of someone typing in a search.
Katie: I think it has made me more passionate about getting our clients good results. Knowing how far donations, and volunteerism can really go for an organization makes me care all the more about creating ads that will help achieve their goals.
At Cause Inspired Media our entire team is passionate about giving back, and has a deep understanding of the impact that volunteers can have on an organization. We are happy to serve our clients each day, and use our passion to promote the mission and impact of the nonprofits we serve. If you have any questions about increasing volunteerism at your organization, contact us!
Written By: Emily Dietz, Strategic Planning & Operations Manager
With Contributions From: Sarah Symoens, Digital Analyst & Katie Kelderman, Digital Strategist