Volunteering makes you a better person – and it's best for business (opinion)

Jim DeVolld, managing director of commercial banking for First Independent Bank.

Jim DeVolld, managing director of commercial banking for First Independent Bank.

RENO, Nev. — It was an 8-year-old boy who changed my perspective about volunteering.

It was many years ago, and unfortunately I don't remember his name. I was working with the Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows that day handing out sweatshirts to nearly 400 kids during their annual holiday event. We had one sweatshirt for each child, and we knew for some families, this would likely be the warmest piece of clothing they'd have going into the winter.

This little boy approached me and asked if he could have a sweatshirt for his mom. Without thinking, I told him we only have one sweatshirt for each child.

He quickly let me know that I didn't understand his request. He was not seeking two sweatshirts; he just wanted one. But he wanted to give the sweatshirt to his mother so she would have something for Christmas.

I was stunned. Here was a young child not thinking about his own needs, and instead focused on his ability to make someone else happy. He was the only child to make this request that day.

I decided to break a rule. The little boy went home with two sweatshirts, and I got a brand new perspective on the needs within our community. Although it was probably 20 years ago, I often think about that 8-year-old boy.

When it comes to volunteer work, I also think back to my first boss who gave me some great advice. He always said, “If you are important to your community, you are important to your employer.”

Keeping that advice in mind, I would suggest volunteering is an excellent way for anyone to be important to their community. There are many benefits of volunteering:

Team Building

Volunteering is an opportunity to build camaraderie away from the office while in the service of others.

Our volunteers at First Independent Bank gain a different sense of accomplishment by doing volunteer work compared to what they do in the office.

When our team is working on a volunteer project, it allows for cross-department interactions, something that may not happen regularly in the office.

Endless Opportunities

Often, one project can lead to another. Recently, while several of our team members were touring the Catholic Charities facility, we asked if there were other ways we could help.

After some discussion, we learned we could provide Easter baskets to families all over Northern Nevada. With help from one of our key clients, we produced about 800 Easter baskets that went to children throughout Northern Nevada.


I believe it is essential to share knowledge. Regardless if you are an employee or a business owner, I bet you have experience or expertise that can help the next generation in some way.

Our team recently visited Hug High School in Reno to help students begin a financial literacy program. The 10-unit course which we provide at no cost will help these students make smart decisions about credit cards and scores, mortgages, insurance, loans, and much more.

The visit turned out to be an enriching experience for us, knowing we are helping these students learn how to make smart financial decisions.

Good For Business

To be clear, I volunteer because I think it is the right thing to do for my community, and I very much enjoy the feeling of helping others. But it can also be good for business.

Volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows, The Lions Club, Junior Achievement of Northern Nevada, Catholic Charities and many other groups, has also helped me expand my network in the business community. Several clients were people I met volunteering.

I am thankful my path crossed with that 8-year-old boy so many years ago. That experience has made me a better person, a better boss, and a better Nevadan. Trust me when I tell you, there are many 8-year-olds out there, hoping to inspire you as well.

Jim DeVolld is senior vice president, regional manager at First Independent Bank, a division of Western Alliance Bank. He is also the current chair of the Renown Health Board of Directors. Jim is a life-long Nevada resident who volunteers an average of 10 hours per month.


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