Get Involved with Non-Profits

Jasbina Ahluwalia asks Deepa Iyer, former Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together, SAALT: Deepa, I’m wondering about our listeners who recognize in themselves that they may not have those work styles but they have a purpose.

They feel a draw towards their purpose and calling. They want to contribute and support the non-profit sector in some way, but they’re not in a position to do so professionally.

Do you have any guidance for those people who would like to contribute in some way?



Deepa Iyer

Yes. Not everyone can work at a non-profit for financial reasons. Not everyone feels that the culture is a good fit for them.

There are so many ways that everyone can support the non-profit sector or organizations that you are personally connected to.

I’ll offer a couple of suggestions.


Get Involved with Non-Profits: Board Member

One is to really think about taking on leadership at a non-profit in terms of becoming a board member.

Becoming a board member is not something that one can do just because they’re interested.


Get Involved with Non-Profits: Apply Your Skills

There are a number of skill sets that non-profits are often looking for, usually people who understand finances and budgets.

They look for people who are ready to go out there and fundraise as well as people who might have some skills related to communications or social media.

Those are all types of skill sets that many listeners might have that a non-profit would really like to have on their board of directors. That’s one way.


Get Involved with Non-Profits: Financial Support

If you’re not interested in being on the board or you don’t have that much time to commit, the second way is to support non-profits with your financial donations.

I can’t emphasize enough how important that is to a non-profit.

I know that at SAALT, for example, we really rely on our own community to support us. Even if we raise money from foundations or corporations, for us, it was always important that the South Asian community supported us, because we were and are a South Asian organization.

Whether that is allocating a certain amount every year that you’re going to give away or a certain amount every month that you’re going to make a donation to a non-profit of your choice.

Thinking about that deliberately and understanding how your values are connected to the organizations you support can make a world of difference for a non-profit and also in your own life, to know that you’re putting your money where your values are.


Get Involved with Non-Profits: Volunteer Efforts

A third way is to identify what sort of skills you might have and offer those skills to a non-profit organization.

We’ve had a lot of luck at SAALT in that way. For example, lawyers at corporate law firms came to us and said, “We’re really interested in SAALT documenting the barriers that South Asians face who are running for elected office.”


Get Involved with Non-Profits: Offer Creative Advice

We thought, “That sounds like a great idea.” We asked them, these volunteers, to start us off and they did.

It led us to putting out a national report a few years ago on xenophobia in political discourse, which was cited and used heavily by media, other non-profit organizations and stakeholders.

An idea like that can actually help out a non-profit quite a bit in terms of expanding their scope of work.


Get Involved with Non-Profits: Just Ask How

Don’t be afraid to go to a non-profit event and talk to the executive director or staff and say, “I’m interested. These are the sorts of skills that I have.”

I think it always helps a non-profit when you can tell us what you’re interested in rather than saying, “What can I do?”

People who come up with ideas or direction, it always helps us on the non-profit side of things be able to plug you in properly and appropriately to the type of work that we do.


Tell Us:

Did you get involved with non-profits? How do you help? Share with us in the comments section below.


The above is an excerpt from Jasbina’s interview with Deepa Iyer

The entire interview transcript is at: Deepa Iyer NetIP (Network of Indian Professionals) Interview – Leading & Working at Non-Profits

Listen to the entire interview on: Intersections Match Talk Radio – Jasbina’s Lifestyle Show

Listen to the entire interview on Blog Talk Radio: NetIP Spotlight- Live Your Potential: Leading & Working at Nonprofits

Listen to the entire interview on iTunes