Dennis Devlin, 2016 AMA Chapter Volunteer of the Year, Leadership Summit Acceptance Speech Excerpt

Volunteering is Giving

What is the essence of volunteering? Volunteering is giving. When I joined the American Marketing Association (AMA) in college I wanted to learn more about marketing, make networking connections, and begin a great marketing career.

Joining the AMA as a member and becoming involved as a volunteer for self-gain. Maybe you wanted to get something in return too. What I have learned is that if you focus on getting, it won’t be sustainable.

If you focus on giving, however, it might never end. It wasn’t until I took a leadership position in the AMA for me to become a servant leader. Volunteer to give, without the expectation of anything in return.

The Gift of Generosity

I encourage you to give generously of your time, talent, and experience. The old adage holds true: The more you give, the more you will receive. When I began my marketing career I became involved in the Louisville chapter, volunteering my time in multiple committees. That generosity led me to an opportunity to elevate to a leadership role. A generous spirit coupled with action leads to more opportunities. Look for opportunities to give because – the gift of generosity is a gift that you not only give, but you also receive.

Seek Significance

I have come to appreciate during my 30 plus years of AMA volunteering that chasing financial success is not a worthwhile endeavor; rather, to seek significance is a better use of time and energy.

It’s really been as a leader in the Cincinnati chapter where it has become clear that I volunteer for the AMA to seek significance. Consider:

  • Significance is everlasting. Significance will always outlast you. Even when you are no longer present, your significance will still be yours.
  • Significance carries on. Significance keeps on giving. When you positively change the life of another human being … significance carries on.
  • Significance satisfies our soul. While the thirst for financial success is never quenched, significance satisfies our deepest soul.

The best path is to seek significance – because financial success is fleeting, but significance is everlasting.


Once I began giving in earnest, unexpected opportunities arose. Because of my AMA volunteering, I have far eclipsed what I thought was possible in my professional career.

If you focus primarily on giving, you will be rewarded. In helping others, you help yourself. Robert Ingersoll may have said it best: “We rise by lifting others.”

Ultimately, my greatest reward for volunteering for the AMA? My AMA friends.

The Challenge

When you volunteer for the AMA, I encourage you to:

  • Practice servant leadership – help others grow and succeed, and you will become a better leader
  • Pay it forward – give the gift of generosity, and you will become a better person
  • Seek significance – focus on making an impact and leaving a legacy, and know that you will have made a difference

In the AMA we don’t volunteer alone; we volunteer together. And when we volunteer together, we do converge and make great things happen!