With busy lives, it’s a challenge juggling a career and personal responsibilities let alone finding time to volunteer. You may feel that adding one more commitment to your never-ending to-do list is daunting and exhausting and not going to happen. However, if volunteering is something you’re not currently doing, you might want to give it a second thought.
Giving back, such as volunteering your time or serving on a committee or board, reaps enormous benefits for you and your community. Not only is it an admirable thing to do, it will help you learn new skills, reduce stress, increase joy, and even advance your career among many other touted benefits.
“We make a living by what we get,
but we make a life by what we give.”
~ Winston Churchill
So, where to begin? You might want to start by checking with your HR department to ask if your employer has a formal volunteering program in place for employees. It’s reported that current employees who volunteer through their workplace have an increased positive feeling toward their employer, feel a stronger bond with co-workers and are more engaged with their work responsibilities. A win-win!
When seeking volunteer opportunities, it’s also important to find something you love, so you can put your heart and mind into it. At the risk of stating the obvious, pick something that’s important to you and that you will enjoy. Whether it’s giving back with a well-established nonprofit or a grassroots organization, find a volunteer opportunity that moves your emotions. You may even consider going it alone like, for example, mentoring a high school student or offering friendship and social activities to seniors in nursing homes.
Any amount of volunteer time you can offer counts. If you can dedicate, say, four hours a month, that’s 48 hours a year! That’s valuable time, and any organization would gladly embrace your generosity.
Fortunately, the opportunities to volunteer are limitless! Once you find a cause that resonates with you, plan to get involved and give back. You’ll not only be glad you did, you’ll find your decision to be a beneficial one all the way around.
Here’s a sampling of the many benefits volunteering affords you:
Expand Your Network – Volunteering is a great way to meet people. It strengthens your ties to the community and broadens your business and social network, exposing you to people with common interests, resources and career opportunities.
Make an Impact – Unlike other aspects of life you can’t control, volunteering allows you to choose where and how to make a difference. It’s easy to get inspired with a cause you’re passionate about — and it’s rewarding to see you’re helping to make a difference.
Learn New, Transferable Skills – Volunteering will help you develop skills as well as apply current skills in new ways. For example, an administrative assistant who works in the financial industry could use his/her skills to help an organization use effective programs with budgeting and scheduling. Additionally, being a part of a committee or board is a good way to strengthen your communications skills.
Enhance Your Social Skills – While some people are naturally outgoing, others may be more reserved and have a difficult time meeting new people. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills and build rapport.
Improve Your Health – Yes, volunteering is good for the mind, body and soul! Studies show, (for example United Health Group,) that volunteering makes people feel happier, physically healthier, manage chronic health conditions and lower stress.
Increase Confidence –You’re making a difference for others, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride, identity and confidence. The better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.
Bring Fun and Fulfillment to Your Life –Volunteering is an ideal way to explore your interests and passions. Finding that special volunteer opportunity can be a rejuvenating escape from your day-to-day routine of work or family commitments. It also provides you with renewed creativity, motivation and vision that can carry over into your career.
Develop your Emotional Intelligence – Knowing your skills, interests and values are ingredients for career success. Volunteer experience can be a good way to learn more about yourself and your potential to grow. It also offers a way to learn how other people relate to you.
Where to Find Volunteer Opportunities
Check out this great resource to help you with your volunteer search!
About the Author:
Nancy Schnoebelen Imbs is an empowering professional development consultant, dynamic motivational speaker and author. Highly dedicated and results-oriented, she has the skill and passion for helping individuals become more confident and successful in business and beyond. She and her company Polished help clients focus on key adjustments that result in meaningful impact and effectiveness.