Posted on 22/04/2020 by Tracey George MIRP
Many people volunteer for different reasons, but one thing that unites them all is that they find it challenging, rewarding and varied. However, at a time when we are facing and fighting a serious pandemic, volunteering can change and save lives too.
Volunteering opportunities come in many different guises, from long-term regular commitments to one-off individual or group projects.
Organisations not only benefit from the valuable perspective that volunteers often bring to the table, but the time spent on such tasks that is saved and allows others in the organisation for focus on work elsewhere. Even a small commitment can have a lasting effect on an organisation and the people it represents.
Here are some of the reasons why volunteering is something we should all consider doing:
It’s great on your CV and improves your job prospects
You will be showcasing your skills and experience from your paid employment but when you can also demonstrate that you have used these skills and competencies to help and support charities to further their cause, it shows that you are community-minded, conscientious and have a willingness to learn and develop yourself.
Researchers have noticed that Millennials are some of the most socially-aware employees. They choose jobs that reflect their values and then continue to donate their money, time, and skills.
Other generations, too, are finding that volunteering presents real benefits professionally. Including related and non-related volunteer work on a CV can often showcase your skills, as well as reveal an openness to teamwork and appetite for change and innovation. A survey found that employers overwhelmingly look favourably on job applicants who have volunteered.
Helps define and identify career goals and directions
Volunteering will expose you to information that you may not otherwise have had access to and might give you insight into what you are looking for regarding your own career. For example, you may have always wondered what it would be like to work in a smaller organisation where your role may be more varied or in a role that was more operational than service lead. Gaining first-hand experience through volunteering can be very valuable in determining your next career move.
Gain new skills and experience
Most volunteering roles will enable you to develop entirely new skills, which is great and will allow you to seek opportunities in the future where those skills may be required. Some volunteering roles will however draw on existing experience which is often what attracts organisations to certain volunteers, even when this is the case, you will be applying those skills and your experience in an entirely different organisation, with different operational systems and controls, a culture and environment that you might not have experienced before and reporting to people that may have a completely unique way of working to achieve that organisations goals and outcomes. This alone will not only challenge you but will most certainly present you with challenges and development that will enrich your experience and outlook in the future.
Builds community spirit, gets you socialising and networking
You strengthen your community and your social network when you volunteer. You make connections with the people you are helping, and you cultivate friendships with other volunteers.
Social interaction improves mental and physical health, which can include better brain function and lower risk for depression and anxiety.
Volunteering creates stronger bonds between friends, family, and coworkers.
It is an easy and natural way to meet some new people and build your network. You more easily engage in conversations with people who share a common interest and it removes the awkwardness of more formal networking situations.
Improves self-esteem & confidence
Many volunteers report that they develop self-esteem, confidence, and feelings of self-worth through their volunteering commitments. For example, the advantages of volunteering for teenagers and young adults with eating disorders, social anxiety, and depression, volunteering could be life-changing for these young people.
An expanded network, increased knowledge skills and experience will help you to present yourself in a positive way and can only make you feel more competent, qualified and suitable when interviewing for a new role.
Your volunteering experience will give you a few different strings to your bow and will enhance your ability to give rich and evidence-based answers in an interview. You are highlighting your skills and sharing how you applied them in a real-world setting while simultaneously benefitting your community, who wouldn’t be impressed by this?
Improves and assists with mental health and wellbeing
Volunteering reduces stress and improves general wellbeing, it equips people with tools that will allow them to be happier, healthier, and creates a more natural work-life balance. Volunteering is proven to help build resilience which in turn assists with combating and managing stress.
Children and students benefit too
For school-aged kids, volunteering builds social skills and develops awareness. Senior school students volunteer to boost their further education applications, and college students volunteer to improve their job search post-graduation.
Volunteering and giving your time, energy, and resources to people and causes around the world can create change on a global scale. One person’s efforts can change the life of someone else’s, and this is extremely powerful and rewarding but don’t overlook this most basic benefit which is that volunteering is just plain fun!
If you are ready to make friends, improve your mental and physical health, and maybe develop new skills along the way, start volunteering. Here are some resources to kick-start your volunteering:
- TPP website - Volunteering
- Contact your local volunteer centre through the NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations)
- GOV.UK - Volunteering
- Do-IT - Volunteering made easy
- Volunteering Matters - Community Volunteering