I had the great pleasure of having coffee/lunch with a friend today, someone who I have not seen since last fall when the campaign we worked on together came to a triumphant close. Since that was my first major campaign (a very intense 10-month $1.25m with no pre-existing donor base to speak of), I considered B one of my teachers/mentors. It was wonderful catching up with her, hearing about her professional experiences in the last 12 months, sharing my incredible experiences in the last 12 months, discussing the latest trends in our field, and who has moved to where and when (you know, the usual stuff development people talk about when they get together).
We also talked about the importance of networks, mentoring relationships, and community. It dawned on me that I’ve written quite a bit about the importance of building and maintaining relationships between organizations and constituents, but I haven’t written much about the importance of building and maintaining relationships within the professional community.
I must admit that I’ve been feeling down in the dumps lately… but spending the afternoon with the wonderful community of Companis workers cured me quickly!
You haven’t heard of Companis in Seattle? You need to!
Companis is an organization that matches professionals in the Puget Sound community with struggling nonprofits who need social workers, accountants, program managers, directors, development professionals… but cannot afford the staffing costs. Companis workers commit to year-long terms of service to their matched organizations. Yes, a year. Think of it as the Peace Corps for Seattle. And Companis doesn’t just make the volunteer match and move on. Workers gather together every few weeks for support and workshops, have annual retreats, and other community building opportunities. This model means that the experience is as enriching and transformative for the workers as it is for the organizations with which they volunteer.
I feel so lucky — blessed, really — to have learned of Companis last summer. Even though I myself have not had the opportunity to become a year-long Companis worker (hopefully in the future when the circumstances are right), I realized today at the Companis picnic how important and inspiring this organization has been to me — personally and professionally.