The National Conference on Volunteering and Service (#NCVS) is the annual, massive gathering of volunteering and community service individuals, professionals and advocates convened by the Atlanta-based Points of Light service organization. And in just over a week, thousands of individuals will descend on the nation's capital for this conference of idealists. Here are five reasons why you should be one of them.
Let's get the obvious out of the way. NCVS is in Washington, D.C. this year. And for the typical, civic virtue crowd of this conference, the symbol of the nation's capital is a temple to their ideals. Monuments like newly minted Martin Luther King next door to the inspiring FDR memorial for a 'New Deal' will be a hot one-two punch for sure. Yet all the buildings, statues, museums and parks of D.C. are monuments to the civic faith in one way, as is the city itself, at least in theory. So with 5,000+ attendees descending on the District of Columbia for nearly a week, with a burning, idealistic fervor, it should be quite the touching showstopper.
Let's talk about things less idealistic but nonetheless true. It's a fact: NCVS-ers know how to party. I learned this fact two years ago at the NCVS in New Orleans. All things being equal, Points of Light throws one hell of a show. From my experience, NCVS taps perfectly into local culture, relevant celebrity and sheer, inspirational entertainment. This year John Legend, poster child for involving people in community action (and one specific political campaign) will grace the conference with his silky smooth falsetto and soulful tunes.
Seeing John Legend should be a reason alone to go, but I'm sure NCVS has a whole celebration up its sleeve, not to mention the after-hour parties and meet-ups hosted by AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Alum. This year it looks like there will be an outdoor movie night (sponsored by Red Box) as well, so really, this could get crazy.
Hard to believe for as fun and glitzy as NCVS can be, but there is meat at this table as well. You know, actual learning. Get ready to sink your teeth into breakaway sessions by seasoned presenters who know their craft and can effectively communicate best practices, skills, tips and trade secretes to increase your ability to recruit volunteers, raise money, manage projects, incorporate technology, promote awareness, and all around just be better at your job while improving the bottom line mission of your organization or company. And it's not all talk either. Several service projects are organized and attendees can participate in local opportunities serving schools and neighborhoods. It's practical application of lessons learned, and with the NCVS crowd, it also happens to be a blast.
It's the name of the game. From hobnobbing in the conference center lobby with presidents and CEOs of the world's most socially responsible brands to grinding on the dance floor with slightly inebriated heads of charities and random politicians, NCVS is never short on opportunities to meet people who compliment your professional ambition and organizational mission while providing a richness of unexpected friends. It feels like a big family reunion. It's the family of man, and NCVS is one hell of a productive party.
The bottom line is NCVS is an investment that will carry you through the tough times of the coming year with a righteous boost of motivating idealism. It's inspiring to be engaged with 5,000 other people who all believe that one person is big enough to make a difference. It's thrilling to feel the collective heartbeat of 5,000 individuals pulsing for social change. It's refreshing to connect with 5,000 individuals advocating for more community involvement. If you put in (time, money, effort), you will leave NCVS with overwhelming goals and the vigor to address them. I left NCVS and started my own organization, and I'm ready to get recharged to build The Greatness Initiative into more than just a Social Club, but a force for enduring good.
So whether you are a volunteer manager, CSR practitioner, NGO leader, or anyone working or interested in the industries and companies that seek to do good and do it well, then it's time you invest in the NCVS experience. It's quite literally the world's largest gathering of volunteer and service leaders. It's insanely fun, wholly useful, deeply educational and 100 percent worth whatever it takes to get there. I'll be waiting for you at the steps of the Lincoln Monument.
Learn more about the conference and how to register here.