Benefits of Volunteering
Volunteering has become a meaningful activity for all ages -- adolescents, adults within the work force, and retirees. Everyone can develop compassion and the spirit of service and philanthropy. Research has proven the positive rewards of volunteering include:
- Self satisfaction
- Potential learning or acquisition of new skills
- Specific benefits for the receivers of volunteer efforts
- Meet new people
- Status or reward
- Career opportunities
Workplace skills are valuable to non-profit organizations. Using workplace skills as volunteers gives individuals a new context to demonstrate and improve their abilities, which can have positive benefits in the workplace. Are you looking to start a career or to change jobs? Volunteering is a marvelous way to explore possible career options. It is relatively risk-free in that you can sample a work field or setting without making a long-term commitment to it. This allows you to discover whether or not you like the work or are good at it -- and if you discover it's not for you, you can move on without disrupting your resume or your cash flow. On the other hand, if you find the work exciting, you can increase your volunteer commitment so that you learn even more about this new job field and your talent for it. Eventually, volunteering can lead you to a paying job-- by providing contacts, references, and something tangible to show on your resume. For new graduates, volunteering can place you a notch above your fellow students who may only be able to show prospective employers that they studied in the classroom and held minimum-wage summer jobs. Your volunteer work will demonstrate that you have practical skills, can function in a work environment, and care about your community.
Many people like to volunteer as a team. They can be employees, members of a club or association, or even just a group of friends who would like to spend time together at a volunteer activity.
Volunteering as a family helps bring the family closer together, strengthens the value system of the family, provides an opportunity for quality family time, a feeling that as a family they are giving back to the community.
A whole family can volunteer together or one parent and one child/teenager can volunteer as a special "twosome" project. Or several siblings together can volunteer together. Volunteering can involve both parents or one parent and an extended family member such as a grandparent or aunt/uncle. The mix-and-match possibilities are endless, while you ensure that elusive but much-sought goal of "quality time" with each other. You share a common bond while doing something worthwhile for others. You get to know your children in new ways, and vice versa. The process of demonstrating skills and learning new ones gives both age levels the chance to respect one another, work together towards the same goals -- and have something to talk about all week! Show your children that volunteer work is important and meaningful. Talk about the activity during the week and plan ahead to do it, even when things get hectic. Some of the work may introduce your children to new ideas and possibly to people different from themselves. What a wonderful opportunity to pass along your values and ethics-- but only if you take the time to talk about everyone's reactions. If you have several children, the time may come when you want to focus on an individual son or daughter. Sharing a volunteer project as a twosome may be the key to helping each child feel special.
Children & Youth Volunteers
Children who volunteer are found to have experienced more psychological, social, and intellectual growth than non-volunteering youth. Children who volunteer are exposed to real life examples of values-driven action. They learn how to interact and respond to others in the community who are in need of help and they develop a better understanding of the various needs in the community. Children learn volunteering at home and are able to feel the power of being able to help make a positive difference in the community. Volunteering expands their view of the world and their ability to make a difference. Volunteering and service learning projects help youth gain self confidence and leadership skills by showing them how they can positively influence their communities. Youth learn they can make meaningful contributions to their communities and begin a life-long journey of leadership and service.
Research & Links
Charity Channel “History of Volunteering”
Energize! The History of Volunteer Involvement in Seven Stages
Points of Light Foundation & Hands On Network
United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics “Volunteering in the United States”