“Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy
With busy lives, it can be difficult to find time to give back. However, the benefits of giving back through volunteering can be enormous. There are seemingly endless ways to give back – with your time, resources, skill and energy. It offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for, the volunteer. Joining the right organization and cause can help you to find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even advance your career.
Giving to others could help protect you mentally and physically by reducing stress, combating depression, keeping you mentally stimulated, and providing a sense of purpose. While it’s true that the more you volunteer, the more the benefits you’ll experience, note that volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your day.
Here are some benefits of volunteering;
Volunteering your skills helps you develop new ones:
Skills-based volunteering is an excellent opportunity to develop talents to help you get ahead in your career. In fact, it serves as a training ground for you. Skills development in technical and leadership-related areas is the primary reason corporations invest in international skills-based volunteering programs.
Volunteering helps build your experience:
Volunteering in a new industry will give you knowledge to help you switch fields. And if you want to move from the corporate world to the nonprofit sector, volunteering first can help prove your commitment. This is consistently seen with highly skilled professionals like investment bankers and business consultants. Forbes have noted that skilled volunteer work — such as helping a nonprofit with its finances — makes job applicants look more appealing to hiring manager.
Volunteering connects you to people:
Apart from impacting communities, volunteering allows you to connect to different people because, helping out with the smallest tasks can make a real difference to the lives of people, animals, and organizations in need. Dedicating your time as a volunteer will help you make new friends, expand your network, and boost your social skills.
Volunteering increases your social and relationship skills:
While some people are naturally outgoing, others have a hard time meeting new people maybe because they are shy. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills, since you meet regularly with people with common interests. Once you have momentum, it becomes easier to make more friends and contacts.
Volunteering makes you feel fulfilled while having fun:
Volunteering is a fun way to explore your interests and passions. It can be a relaxing, energizing escape from your day-to-day routine and other commitments. People volunteer in order to make time for hobbies outside of work as well. For instance, if one has a desk job and longs to spend time outdoors, one might consider volunteering to help plant a community garden, walk dogs for an animal shelter, or help out at a children’s camp.
The benefits of volunteering are endless and pretty personalized for some. So, how do you get to join the right organization or team?
Find a good fit:
Start by looking at websites of different organisations to get a feel for them and to see if they have volunteer opportunities listed. From there call a few places- it’s always appropriate to say “I’m looking to volunteer somewhere and I have a few questions for you.” Do not be in a hurry to commit until you find a place that is a good fit for both you and the community partner.
A few questions to ask yourself during the process could be:
Is the work that they do, and the way that they do it, align with your values?
Do the dates and times that you are available work for the organisation?
Are you willing to do what they need from you as a volunteer and do you have the skills to do it?
What does the onboarding process for a volunteer look like? Do you need to complete an application, attend training/ orientation? Are you willing and/or do you have time to meet the requirements
Meet a Need vs. “We want to give you”:
Meet a Need vs. “We want to give you…” Make sure that what you’re doing is what the organization needs and asks for, not what you assume they need or what you want to do/give.
If you wait for the perfect moment to grasp the importance of volunteering, it might never come. Choose to act today and start supporting a cause that’s dear to you. Instead of finding excuses, find purpose. Find the cause that speaks to you and start giving back today.
Do you know any organization with a good cause in need of volunteers? Kindly recommend in the comment section.