It’s the Year to Volunteer
by Susan Avery, CAE

f you’re looking for a new year’s resolution that will benefit you and the performance plastics industry, I suggest you consider finding a volunteer opportunity within IAPD. IAPD’s offerings to its members are only possible through a collaboration between paid staff and a large network of member volunteers. We need your expertise!

What is in it for you? Let’s take a look at some of the many benefits of volunteerism.

Advance the performance plastics industry
The performance plastics industry is large and represents hundreds of materials and applications. IAPD as an association represents the performance plastics supply chain, from distributors and fabricators to manufacturers and manufacturer representatives to resin companies, as well as associated products and services companies. Some IAPD members are large multi-national organizations, others are small family businesses. Many IAPD members have a reputation for their expertise in certain vertical markets, others specialize in replacing other materials with performance plastics.

Managing the business of this large, diverse association is a small staff of eight people in Overland Park, KS, USA. This staff is comprised of experts in their fields (event planning, marketing, publications, sales, etc.), but they rely on you, the IAPD member, for guidance about what’s important to you and your business. Your involvement with IAPD helps the small (yet dedicated) staff better serve you, providing the resources and materials you need to succeed. We rely on your expertise, because you are the subject matter experts when it comes to performance plastics.

Expand your network
Volunteering is an excellent way to go beyond your usual contacts and get to meet others in the industry. Since you will be working toward a common goal during your tenure as a volunteer, this will give you ample opportunity to make strong connections with people you might not have met otherwise. Having the outlet that volunteerism gives you is especially welcome now, when options for travel are limited.
Develop leadership experience
I always encourage potential volunteers to find a volunteer opportunity that meets their interests. When you are passionate about what you do as a volunteer, it will be an enjoyable experience for you. Plus, you will be able to learn leadership skills or fine-tune your innate leadership abilities.
Gain recognition
The IAPD Board of Directors is engaged with the volunteer groups within IAPD, so volunteering is an excellent way to get noticed by the top leadership in the industry. All standing working groups are listed on IAPD’s website, including a roster of their volunteers. The different committees and common interest groups (CIGs) have different ways of featuring and recognizing their volunteers. For example, the leaders of the Women in Plastics Committee record videos prior to their virtual events. The volunteers on the Editorial Committee are listed in every issue of this magazine. You never know when you’ll be asked to take a starring role in an IAPD initiative, one that might get your name out there.
Volunteer opportunities

IAPD has 10 standing committees, four common interest groups, one council and task forces that form on an ad hoc basis. The committees generally focus on projects that benefit the association and the industry. Each committee has different expectations for the time needed from volunteers, so if you are considering joining a committee, I suggest you speak with me or the committee chair to find out what is involved. Some committees meet monthly, others bimonthly and some quarterly. Between meetings, those committee volunteers generally have a task or two to accomplish. There is always a staff person available to help as well.

If you’re looking for something a little more bite sized as a way to get started, there are numerous “micro-volunteering” opportunities available to you as well, such as:

  • Write an article for this magazine
  • Be interviewed for the upcoming Performance Plastics Podcast
  • Contribute to the Performance Plastics Put to Work blog
  • Amplifying IAPD social media posts by liking and sharing to your network
  • Helping out when your subject matter expertise is needed
Volunteers get it done
If you’ve ever taken an IAPD Certificate Course or referenced the Introduction to Plastics training manual, you have the Education Committee to thank. If you’ve ever had a “lightbulb moment” listening to a keynote speaker at an IAPD Annual Convention, thank the Convention & Expo Committee. If you’ve been enjoying the Women In Plastics virtual events, that’s because the Women In Plastics Committee volunteers helped to make those happen. If you look forward to reading this magazine when it is published every other month, thank the Editorial Committee for their knowledge and guidance. The list goes on: the Marketing Committee helps promote the association and the industry. The Membership Committee ensures that new members meet all of the requirements and will be good stewards of the supply chain. The Government Relations Committee works hard to combat the anti-plastics messaging that’s so prevalent in Washington, D.C.

If you want to build solid connections in the industry, grow your personal and professional network and develop your leadership skills, committee volunteerism is the way to go. If you want to help but just can’t make a year-long commitment at this point, that’s fine, we need your help with short-term projects as well.

The important thing, during this time of making resolutions at the beginning of the new year, is deciding that, yes, this is the year to volunteer. I look forward to talking with you in more detail about the opportunities. Please reach out to me or the IAPD headquarters staff so we can find a good fit for you.