The giving network
THE GIVING NETWORK
Use your project management skills to help those doing good.
BY ROBERTO TOLEDO, MBA, PMP, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
Helping those in need, giving back to our community or supporting a worthwhile social cause is one of the most rewarding activities someone can undertake. In short, giving makes you feel good.
As project managers, we have the great opportunity to use our knowledge and skills to help those less fortunate. There are many ways to help, but two specific activities are well within our reach and are worth exploring:
1. Teach Project Management
Just like for-profit companies, many not-for-profit organizations rely on projects to accomplish their goals. But unlike corporations with mature processes, not-for-profits may not have the project management expertise. Donating your time to teach project management to members of these organizations will benefit their causes in ways you can't even imagine. It may very well be that basic scheduling and budgeting techniques are the most important tools they will need. And a good scope management plan is almost always needed.
I will always vividly remember the eye-opening experience that members of two charitable organizations had in recent courses that I had the joy to teach. An organization that built a foster home for orphans in Panama and a group that helps sexually abused children in Mexico became more effective and efficient through better planning and organization using project management. If you are willing to teach, it's easy to find someone who is willing to learn.
2. Donate Your Expertise
Another great way to help not-for-profits is by donating your time and knowledge to manage their projects, no matter the scope. This is especially important given the perennially scarce resources of most not-for-profits. For the past three years, my good friend Hans Meijer, PMP, has been managing projects for Rafael Giraldo, a middle school teacher in Weston, Florida, USA.
The ability to give back is at your fingertips. Visit PMI‘s Educational Foundation at www.pmi.org/pmief to help spread the power of project management for social good.
To inspire his students about goal-setting and commitment, Rafael has already undertaken two grueling solo bicycling trips. In 2013, to celebrate 500 years of Spanish heritage, culture and language in the Continental Americas, Rafael hopes to cycle the full length of the former Spanish Empire in the Western Hemisphere—from Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, to St. Augustine, Florida, USA. He has already cycled 3,800 miles (6,115 kilometers) traveling solo from San Francisco, California, USA to Weston, and followed that with another trip of similar length down the East Coast of the United States.
Hans had to use all his project management knowledge to help Rafael plan and fund his journeys. Hans developed a sound scope plan using a master work breakdown structure, planned every detail of the preparation and the actual journeys with a thorough schedule, and is currently keeping a close eye on funding and expenditures using his cost management knowledge. He also helped Rafael stay connected over the Internet so he could share his experiences, images and videos to engage, educate and inspire his students.
Enjoying the projects you manage doesn't always have to depend on the number of zeros on your paycheck. Serving others is a privilege. Take advantage of these opportunities, and the whole world wins. PM
Roberto Toledo, MBA, PMP, is managing partner of Alpha PM Consulting, and a trainer and consultant who works across the Americas. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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PMI research shows project teams that draw from an array of perspectives and skillsets deliver powerful outcomes.