Updated: Mar 21, 2019
“It’s better to give than receive.” You will often hear this quote around Christmas, but it is just as applicable throughout the other 11 months of the year. No matter your social status, education level or family background, you each have something to give: your time. And how you give it can truly change lives -- including your own.
Have you ever thought about volunteering in your local community? Yes, no, maybe?
Either way, here are five benefits of volunteering that can help motivate you to start donating your time.
Make a change in your community
Depending on the place, this could look like helping a child read or cleaning up after a natural disaster, like Hurricane Irma. If people did not volunteer to help, then work would be delayed or not get done at all. The saying holds true: Many hands make light work. Your time as a volunteer is valuable both figuratively and literally. You have the chance to invest in the future generation and prepare a better tomorrow through the work you do today. In 2018, the estimated national value of volunteer time was $24.69 per hour. Donating your time allows your community to spend their resources on other projects.
Learn new skills
The list of places that need volunteers is endless, which means you can easily find something that fits your interest. Get involved with Habitat for Humanity and you’ll learn new construction skills in no time. Students who volunteered with Florida Alternative Breaks learned soft skills like time-management and leadership. Looking for a volunteer opportunity near you? Here is a great resource. Just be aware that not all volunteer organizations are created equal. Ask questions, and make sure you know who your work is benefiting. While our checklist was created for abroad organizations, you can apply the same ideas to local ones too!
Gain valuable experience
Whether you’re applying for a job or college, you can always benefit from having “volunteer experience” on your resume. This experience could be the factor that sets you apart on a college or job application. Or, if you hope to get employed at the place you’re volunteering, then this will give you a leg up on other candidates. It will also allow you to try out a potential career without making a commitment.
Get a fresh perspective
Sometimes you just need a break from the classroom, office, or even your family! Volunteering could be the refresh you need to bring joy back into your life. They often say that you get out what you put in. Volunteering allows you to see the world through other people’s eyes. This can help you develop a newfound appreciation for all the good in your life. Moreover, volunteering typically is not a single-person job. When you are working side by side with people, it’s common to pass the time by sharing stories and values. This can lead to your own personal revelation or the start of a new friendship
Improve your health
You read that right! You can reduce your stress, increase happiness, improve mental clarity and even live longer just by volunteering. The Harvard School of Public Health found that “people who volunteered spent 38 percent fewer nights in the hospital” than non-volunteers. Research continues to prove that doctors should start prescribing “volunteering” to patients.
Are you convinced?
Of course it is important that you volunteer with the right intentions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get something personal out of it. As listed above, the benefits are clear.
Volunteering abroad is cool, but there are so many organizations that need help right in your community. Unlike volunteer abroad and tourism trips, the cost of volunteering locally is free. And the reward? Some would suggest is greater.
So, what are you waiting for? Time’s a wastin, so start volunteering today!