Like so many idealistic students, I returned from my gap year studying at a college in Israel with an enthusiasm for ‘giving something back’. So I signed up to a local charity that offers support to children and their families with cancer and other life-limiting conditions. I’ve since spent many rewarding hours at various events, camps, family homes, hospitals and parties, talking and playing with children who carry a burden far heavier than mine.
Few things are as enriching as the knowledge that I have had a positive impact on someone’s day. It is the ultimate cliché, but through discussions with the children’s parents, their palpable sense of gratitude for the charity demonstrates that our time spent volunteering is valued.
The charity is part of my life but when I first began volunteering, I used to watch older, more experienced volunteers, ‘veterans’ as I termed them, and their confident interactions with the children. A couple of years later, a veteran myself, I am confident in my volunteering efforts, so I try to recruit friends and family to work with this charity, stressing that making a positive impact does not mean that you need to be the biggest, brightest and most dynamic personality in the room.
At The PR Office, we are given time off to volunteer for a charity of our choice. I, along with several of my colleagues, take the opportunity to spend time with really special causes. People say that seeing is believing, and I believe that this is very much true when it comes to working in charity PR. Getting out from behind your desk and seeing a charity’s work first-hand better equips us as PR consultants to understand our clients and the messages that they want to communicate. When it comes to building energy and enthusiasm for generating positive PR for our charity clients, there really is no substitute for shutting down the computer, getting out from behind your desk, and meeting the real people behind some of our most inspirational stories.