“Everyone is interested in
making the world a better place and
we are interested in
doing that through project management.”
Deanna Landers, Founder
Project Managers Without Borders
Have you ever considered volunteering for a non-profit, but were afraid that you will be unable to commit to the project? Sometimes, organizations just need 2-3 hours of a project manager's time to get pointed in the right direction. Consider lending your expertise in ways that minimize your time commitment. There are many opportunities to mentor, coach, or simply make professional connections. These options may be more suitable when you don’t have time to devote to an entire project.
- Volunteer to provide a professional development seminar for a short-term commitment with meaningful impact.
- Offer to serve as a mentor for PMs looking to improve or expand their knowledge and professional network.
- Host network events and help establish local communities of practice.
- Provide a professional assessment of a non-profit’s project that they can use as a guide for focusing resources. Highlight areas of risk or suitable for exploitation.
- Serve on the board of directors or on search committee tasked with hiring outside project management expertise.
What do you get from Mentoring, Coaching, or Teaching?
Teaching others and being able to immediately put into practice what one has learned produces the highest retention rate of all methods including practice by doing (75%) and reading (10%) [Brooks and Brooks]. In well-developed companies or project teams, the opportunity for teaching or coaching may be limited. Volunteering on a project at a non-profit organization may present opportunities to work with less experienced project managers or ones with different experiences who are looking to expand their knowledge toolbox. This may be especially beneficial to the nonprofit organization as funds for professional development are often limited. Additionally, you will benefit from the professional development experience.
Opportunities with PMWB
You may be surprised by the opportunities that exist in your favorite organization. “Many organizations have ideas, but don't know where to start to implement the ideas,” says Eric Schempp, PMWB WaterRico Project Manager. That's where PMWB project managers can step in. PMWB project management volunteers have collaborated with Rotary Club International and Engineers Without Borders to supplement their Water Project teams. “There are lots of opportunities to volunteer with project management skills in areas where you have interest. Project management skills are applicable everywhere,” Landers encourages.
Brooks, J. and Brooks, M. (1993). In Search of Understanding: The Case for Constructivist Classrooms, ASCD
Romiya Barry is a clinical research professional using the project management framework to improve patient care and community health. She is recognized by the Association of Clinical Research Professionals and PharmaTimes Inc. for her leadership in clinical project management. Romiya is on the Board of Directors for Health Horizons International, a healthcare NGO serving communities in the Dominican Republic. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Follow @romiyagbarry!