The Benefits of Volunteering

December 20, 2015

Between work, home, family, and friends, most of us already feel like our schedules are packed to the brim. Because of this, fewer and fewer people are taking the time to volunteer.

“Volunteering is so pervasive it's invisible,” says Susan J Ellis, author and president of Energize []. “We take for granted all the things that have been pioneered by concerned, active volunteers.”

If even your schedule feels full, volunteering a little – or a lot – of your time can have surprising benefits. With so many ways to get involved, it is possible for everyone to take the first step towards volunteering! Below are five of the most compelling benefits of volunteering.

1. Volunteering will make you feel less busy

While this may seem counterintuitive, volunteering can actually help you feel like you more free time. This is similar to the phenomenon in which people who donate to charities feel wealthier.
“The results show that giving your time to others can make you feel more ‘time affluent’ and less time-constrained than wasting your time, spending it on yourself, or even getting a windfall of free time,” wrote Wharton professor Cassie Mogilner in the Harvard Business Review [].

2.Volunteering helps you connect with others

Dedicating time as a volunteer can help you meet new friends and contacts as well as develop better interpersonal skills. Regularly volunteering with the same organization or group can help you meet others in your community who share common interests.

Whether its members of your own family or others in the community, volunteering can also help you develop better and more meaningful personal relationships. Studies have shown that families who volunteer together feel closer and more connected; likewise, volunteering shows children firsthand the importance of giving back to the community.

3. Volunteering builds your experience

If you’re just starting out in the job market or are looking to switch fields, volunteering is a great way to build experience. For students, volunteering can help build and develop a resume or provide a more flexible alternative to a traditional part time job. Likewise, adults may find it useful to volunteer in a field before committing to a new career path.

4. Volunteering is good for your body and spirit

According to the Corporation for National & Community Service [], “Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health… those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.”

People who volunteer weekly are 16% more likely to consider themselves “very happy”; even those who volunteer on a monthly basis are still 7% more likely to say they are “very happy”. Volunteering can also be good for your body; many volunteer organizations encourage you to get up and out into the community. Whether it’s building houses or working on an outdoor environmental project, volunteering can provide a way to keep your body more active.

5. Volunteering lets you choose how to be involved

With thousands of different organizations, positions, and opportunities, there is a volunteer position for everyone. Whether you want to work with people, animals, indoors, outdoors, or do something completely unique, there are deserving organizations in every community that are looking for new volunteers. Taking the time to find an organization you are truly passionate about, can turn a one-time volunteer opportunity into a lifetime of giving back.

No matter how you choose to give back, volunteering can benefit both you and your community.

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