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Value of Volunteering

Volunteers Attending Meetings Return on Investment

Attending ESD Association meetings may be difficult to justify to your manage in this age of travel and budget cuts.  This document is intended to help you prepare your management  justification for attending meetings.

First, you need to understand the investment you are asking your company to make.  This investment is in the form of your travel expenses and your time away from work.  The worksheet below will help you estimate these expenses.

Additionally, we present you with many ideas about how your attendance at ESD Association meetings might benefit your employer.  It is important that you promote your participation by explaining employer benefits, and not by talking about how it benefits you, except in ways that it might make you a more valuable employee.

Calculating Your Expenses
Typical Expenses
Airfare: $
Airport Parking: $
Mileage: $
Local Transportation (NOTE 1): $
Meals (NOTE 2): $
Total Expenses: $

NOTE 1: Investigate all forms of local transportation, including shuttles, taxi, and car rentals.  Hotels often provide free or inexpensive shuttles between the airport and the hotel. Public shuttle services are often less expensive than taxis.

NOTE 2: Opportunities to save on meal expenses include taking advantage of continental breakfasts, coffee, and snacks in the work room during standards meeting days, and our Volunteer Mixer.  Subtract theses meals from your estimates of meal expenses to minimize your expenses.

Make your manager aware of the savings to be had by taking advantage of these discounts.  Show the investment with and without these discounts to highlight the savings.  Demonstrate that you are making every effort to be frugal with your expenses.

Explaining the Benefits of Participation

Itemize the meetings and events that you plan to attend and explain how you expect each will benefit your employer.  Relate the individual meetings and events to specific issues that are challenging your company.

Putting Value to Your Benefit Proposal

The following benefits that you can tailor to your situation.  Use them as appropriate and be specific about what you expect to bring back and apply to your work, including how it will benefit your employer.

  • How your attendance helps your employer's revenues or profits.
  • How your attendance drives growth for your employer.
  • How your attendance reveals new opportunities.
  • How your attendance reduces costs.
  • How your attendance will aid in informed decision-making.
  • How your attendance will solve business challenges.
  • How your attendance will find solutions to company problems.
  • Negative impacts of not attending.
  • Network with other ESD professionals and industry experts.  How face-to-face interactions help your business.
  • Professional development, job performance enhancement, employee motivation.
  • Opportunities to learn best practices, state of industry, and technology advances, forecasts of trends and technology roadmaps.
  • Opportunities to benchmark your operation against practices of other companies.

Include as many of these individual justifications for attendance as you can.

Some of the benefits for participation are intangible and difficult to quantify.  Networking is a prime example of a major, yet intangible benefit.  it might help to identify issues or problems that you want to solve, and then explain that you want to network with other ESD professionals about best practices, or to seek specific advice about a problem or issue.  Speaking with other ESD professionals can provide opportunities to learn about state-of-the-art tools, methods, and solutions.

Don't forget that you are a valuable employee with work to accomplish even though you are away attending a meeting series. Explain what work you can still do while you are away.  Explain how your other work will be handled while you are away.

Put your justification in a well-written letter to your manager to persuade him or her to approve your meeting attendance.  Include an estimate of your expenses and where you were able to take advantage of opportunities to save on your expenses.  Itemize what you expect to learn and bring back, and how it will benefit your employer.

After the Meeting Series

After the meeting series, publicize how much you appreciated the meetings. Highlight what you learned and what you will put into practice to reduce expenses, solve problems, etc.

Actual numbers for Return on Investment (ROI) are very difficult to produce. Do capture the numbers that result from your participation so that you can use them to justify future meeting attendance.  For example, "My participation on the XYZ committee has resulted in ABC,  which represents a savings of $XXX in the past year.  This is directly attributable to my attendance at the XYZ committee meetings."