In conversation with a Contentful Volunteer Ambassador

Learn how one individual became a Contentful Volunteer Ambassador, an employee-driven initiative to coordinate volunteering events in the local community.
May 23, 2024



The Contentful Volunteer Ambassador program is an employee-driven initiative. Our Ambassadors are passionate individuals who volunteer their time and expertise to coordinate group-level volunteer events in the local community.

Currently a Senior Product Manager at Contentful, Luisa Goncalves admits with a laugh her desire to volunteer started when she was "too young to make a significant impact." With a history of volunteering that traces back to her childhood in Portugal, Luisa’s dedication towards service is a testament to the transformative influence of volunteer work. 

In conversation with Annie Field, Head of Community Impact, Luisa recounts how her journey began with an unfulfilled desire to serve at an orphanage at a young age, which later turned into a series of diverse volunteering experiences that led to her becoming a Volunteer Ambassador at Contentful.

Read more about our community impact programs at Contentful.

Developing a volunteering spirit

Annie Fields: Luisa, you are very passionate about volunteering and have acted on that passion within the walls of Contentful. I would love to know more about how this passion started for you.

Luisa Goncalves: I wanted to make a difference from an early age. Even though, at 14, I was too young to volunteer at an orphanage in Portugal, my passion for service was already ignited. Later, I studied at United World College in the U.S., a school with a strong community ethos. 

This led me to various volunteer activities, such as working at the U.S.-Mexico border. I had the chance to support centers for addiction in Mexico and migrants in the U.S. These instances exposed me to varied perspectives and reasons behind migration. 

Other opportunities ranged from participating in initiatives by Habitat for Humanity, leading a nonviolence conference, and working with Jane Goodall. My volunteering spirit kept developing during my university years in Germany, where I managed an organization concentrating on education and intercultural learning.

Luisa (right) and Kevin Harris, Lead Recruiting Coordinator, proudly presenting the donations from a winter collection drive.

Luisa (right) and Kevin Harris, Lead Recruiting Coordinator, presenting the donations from a winter collection drive in December 2023.

The right attitude outweighs specific skills

Annie: You have participated in so many amazing volunteer experiences in so many different contexts. What skills, mindsets, or attitudes do you think make for a great volunteer?

Luisa: When it comes to volunteering, I believe attitude outweighs specific skills. For instance, I volunteered at a shelter for victims of domestic abuse when I was 17. Although I needed more specific knowledge in that area, I was able to assist with paperwork and grant applications. 

The essential thing is to have an open mindset and a staunch commitment to help others. It can be about something other than being an expert in a particular field to make a difference. Volunteering is about the readiness to assist in any way, from painting walls to providing emotional support. It’s about making a meaningful impact, regardless of its size.

Annie: I love this — this is really at the core of our #BeHumble value. I think sometimes volunteering can also feel overwhelming. You wonder if what you’re doing really makes a difference. How do you navigate the emotional challenges that come with volunteering?

Luisa: Yes, coping with the harsh realities of volunteering can be strenuous, especially when you witness the struggles faced by people or animals. 

Reflecting on my past, I realize the significance of having moments to discuss and process these experiences. During my volunteering stints, I had the opportunity to debrief with my classmates and teachers, which helped me understand and deal with what I had seen. 

With the overwhelming information on social media today, I've learned to take occasional breaks and focus on my key volunteering activities. Finding a balance between staying engaged and preserving my well-being is essential.

In January 2024, a group of Contentful employees volunteered at a homeless shelter in Berlin operated by the Johanniter Unfallhilfe.

In January 2024, a group of Contentful employees volunteered at a homeless shelter in Berlin operated by the Johanniter Unfallhilfe.

The positive emotions of volunteering

Annie: That is really well said; if you can’t find that balance, you risk burning out and disengaging altogether. And, like anything challenging, it brings a meaningful depth to life as well. Tell me a little about the positive emotions you get from volunteering.

Luisa: Volunteering offers me immense joy and fulfillment. Being a people person, I  get great satisfaction from dedicating my time to aid others. Creating delightful moments for kids or witnessing their growth brings immense pleasure. 

For instance, when working with the Portuguese committee at United World College, I saw the happiness in kids who found a group of friends sharing their values and concerns about the world. Realizing that my impact goes beyond my immediate surroundings and positively affects others fuels my desire to continue volunteering.

Annie: The feeling of helping facilitate joy for others beyond yourself is a powerful motivator for many when they volunteer. I would love to know more about the selection process you mentioned with United World College. What was that like?

Luisa: As a volunteer at United World College, I aided the scholarship selection process. This involved scrutinizing written applications, planning selection weekends, and facilitating interviews. It was a joint process with the committee board, intending to match students based on their financial needs and potential. Most of the work was done online, but I made it a point to be present during selection weekends, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Recently, I've taken a break to focus on self-care but intend to reengage in the future.

Hard hats at the ready! Contentful volunteers at the Habitat for Humanity Build Day in Denver, Colorado in February 2024.

Hard hats at the ready! Contentful volunteers at the Habitat for Humanity Build Day in Denver, Colorado in February 2024.

Useful advice for starting to volunteer

Annie: Thank you. That sounds like an incredible process to be a part of. Before we wrap, I have to get advice from an expert. There is so much need in the world, and I think it can feel overwhelming even to figure out where to start. What advice would you give to people who want to volunteer but aren’t sure where to start?

Luisa: It can be intimidating to find the right volunteering opportunity. But remember, volunteering doesn't always need specific skills. There are lots of online opportunities or projects where one can employ their existing skills, such as web design or language proficiency. For example, Vostel, a volunteering platform in Germany, facilitates the search for volunteering opportunities based on language requirements. Other organizations such as Wir Packen, provide essential aid and support to vulnerable communities, demonstrating a commitment to making a difference regardless of language barriers. 

Volunteering is about reaching out to organizations and expressing a desire to help. Attitude and dedication are more valued than an exhaustive list of skills. It’s about making a positive impact, no matter the scale, and being receptive to various experiences.

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