Why Volunteering is Good for You

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Many people spend time wishing that they had more time to give back. Wanting to give back and do good is a great start, but finding the time is another story. It’s time to make volunteering a priority, and these reasons why should help give you some extra motivation. There are so many different ways that volunteering is good for YOU!

Think of the word “volunteers” and you might picture a group of people so generous that they put aside the fun things in life – say, sitting on the couch watching tv, or time on the beach – in favor of spending dull, grinding hours at soup kitchens and nursing homes. And yet, oddly enough, people who volunteer are often happier than those who don’t – whether they give their free time at a shelter or take on a prominent role in their town. So why is this?

Volunteering Is Good For Your Health

It might seem counterintuitive, but helping others can actually be a selfish way to spend time. Volunteers aren’t just happier than other people, they’re also healthier, with less likelihood of having a number of serious health conditions. Even more surprising, people who spend time volunteering may feel they have more free time than those who don’t. They have learned the art of multitasking and get the self-satisfaction of feeling more efficient as a result.

Volunteering Is Good For Your Career

If more happiness and better health aren’t enough to convince you to take the time to volunteer, what about career advancement? For people who are unemployed or recent graduates who haven’t found a job in their field, volunteering can be a great way to get experience, make new connections, and even potentially turn it into a job opportunity. Few organizations will pass up free help with building databases, running fundraising campaigns, or designing marketing materials – all of these can be great resume enhancers. Even high-level professionals often find that volunteering on the board of a local charity teaches them new things about managing an organization. It also adds appeal to your resume! The desire to give back is an attractive trait in employees that any company would be happy to have more of.

How To Volunteer

Of course, not every kind of volunteer work is for everyone. But, fortunately, there is a huge range of organizations looking for free help, and they’re seeking a huge range of talents. Do you like building things? Find a local Habitat for Humanity chapter. Love animals? Your local animal shelter is probably looking for someone to walk the dogs or help with adorable cats. You’ll be a better volunteer, and more likely to keep at it, if you find something that you enjoy!

For many people, volunteer work is an extension of other parts of their lives. Parents are especially likely to volunteer, and for many of them that means helping at their kids’ school, coaching a Little League team, or leading a scouting troop. Many older volunteers – and plenty of younger ones too – join their churches in service projects in the local neighborhood or halfway around the world.

In some cases, the ideal volunteer job may be one that happens only occasionally. That could be helping to organize a team for the American Cancer Society‘s popular Relay for Life events or taking part in a holiday food drive. On the other hand, a regular gig like a once-a-week shift at a food pantry can help build lasting relationships with other volunteers and be less disruptive to your routine.

Speaking of routine, one great motivator for many volunteers is support from the organization that takes up the bulk of their time – their employer. Some companies encourage workers to support local organizations by offering a few paid days a year for helping out. Others roundup employees in a big annual push like local United Way branches’ Days of Caring. Bosses find these events are also excellent for team building because they bring people from different parts of the company together in a new setting. And local organizations like them because people who spend one day volunteering are likely to come back for more.

It can be hard to get started, trust me I know, but people who have helped out with an organization a few times tend to see how what they’re doing is generous as well as helpful to themselves at the same time!

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