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What's Your Reason for Not Volunteering?


by Regina Berens, Chairperson, CAS Committee on Volunteer Resources

In 2001, 25 percent of CAS members served on a committee or a task force, made a presentation at a meeting or a seminar, or wrote a paper. Few professional societies enjoy such active member involvement in the running of the organization. But what about the other 75 percent? Based on the "Thanks, but not now" answers to the Participation Survey, here are some common themes and some answers to think about.

I do volunteer work elsewhere. What's in it for me if I volunteer within the CAS?

Read any advice book on how to survive in the 21st century job market. They all tell you, "develop a network." Volunteering within the CAS gives you a valuable professional network and, in some committees, exposure to the latest research. You can also venture into new areas (planning, managing, and learning new aspects of actuarial science) with people who don't directly affect your paycheck or your performance reviews.

My employer won't commit company time or resources to work for the CAS.

While most companies value their employees' visibility within the industry, others seem to consider it a dent in the bottom line. Your employer may be more open to participation in research related to your business. There are committees actively studying DFA models, reinsurance, ratemaking, and valuation, among others. The whole list is at www.casact.org/members/committees. There are also opportunities that don't require extensive travel or time commitments (see the next question).

I don't want to take time away from my family.

We know children are little for only so long and before you know it you're sending them off to college (or throwing them out of the house). There are plenty of volunteer opportunities that don't require travel or extensive time commitments, and you might be surprised at how much of the work is handled by the CAS Office staff. We include a "search engine" facility in the electronic participation survey so you can find opportunities fitting your constraints easily.

Gimme a break—I just finished my exams!

Ok, but fill out the next participation survey when you get back from Tahiti.

I'm an Associate and need to finish my Fellowship exams first.

Most committees welcome Associates, but if you want to finish your exams first, we'll be here when you're finished.

I don't know where to start.

If you'll be at the CAS Spring Meeting in Marco Island this May, check out the session we're planning on volunteering within the CAS. You can also fill out the participation survey when it comes out each July. It has all the details you need to decide what opportunities fit your interests and your schedule. If you indicate a high level of interest in a particular committee, the chairperson must contact you—even if the response is "Thanks, but the committee is full." The CAS Executive Council and the Committee on Volunteer Resources follow up with the chairpersons to make sure they get back to everyone with a high level of interest.

The 2003 survey will also allow you to specify foreign language skills, which may open up new opportunities for you to help expand the international reach of the CAS.

My dog ate my participation survey.

No problem—we make up a new one every year and it's available online where your dog can't get it.