“In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.”
― Marianne Williamson
At some point in life, we’ve had lofty goals and vision of making the world a better place. Eventually, we start waiting for that perfect time to achieve our big goals of changing the world. However, the first step to accomplishment is through volunteering. Although transforming communities may seem like a herculean task when put in perspective, volunteering to support impact activities is a way to go. When you have a big goal, its achievement lies in first taking a step.
One great way to transform communities is through volunteering. Contributing to serve humanity has a positive effect on one’s mental and physical health. It helps build connections and also strengthens the community. There are tons of benefits to volunteering and this article aims to highlight a few.
Self-development & value creation
Volunteering your skills helps you develop more skills. It is a win-win deal. Also, it gives you the opportunity for self-development, adding value and improving the lives of others.
We know education is important, but, it fails to integrate critical skills needed for everyday life experiences. With volunteering, you can achieve more than you’re taught in the classroom.
You understand societal needs better
It is one thing to know about the social problems we face, and another to understand the root causes. But being more involved in community service can give you a better understanding of societal issues. This gives you a clearer picture of trends and situations and can spur efforts to create effective solutions. Thus, promoting civic participation and advocacy.
Meet people from various background
If you’re a person that loves meeting people, or are having a hard time meeting people, then you should volunteer more. Volunteering has the unique ability to bring people across different backgrounds to work towards a common goal. It connects you to a network you may never come in contact with in your entire life. Through partnerships, networking, advocacy, and participating in events, service organizations help build strong and inclusive communities.
Opportunities and career advancement
Most times, when people volunteer, their minds open to new opportunities. Even if you’re not directly offered a job in that regard, you’ll be attracted to many offers out there. In a study conducted on 3,000 employers, 84% of them agreed that volunteering makes a candidate more appealing to them. For instance, they make it clear that they are willing to help others for nothing in return. With this attitude, imagine how helpful you’ll be when you’re being paid. Volunteers develop transferable skills useful in the workplace.
Similarly, if you are considering a change in career, you can meet people in your area of interest through volunteering. It avails you the prospects to learn and gain experience in that field. Moreover, It can help you make improvements as well in your current placement. Whether or not you are changing a career, volunteering only has positive impacts in your career process.
According to a Report by the Corporation of National & Community Service, volunteer activities strengthen social ties that protect individuals from isolation during difficult times. Additionally, the experience of helping others leads to a sense of greater self-worth and trust. Those who engage in volunteer activities are less likely to suffer from ill-health later in life. Interestingly, people who volunteer are less prone to depression. Likewise, they feel a greater sense of purpose and experience lower levels of stress.
Create positive change in the community
The impacts of volunteering extend far beyond personal benefits. However, the skills and knowledge volunteers provide to local organizations are critical in fostering social inclusion. Volunteers have the ability to provide unique insights into the needs of their community and make a positive impact.
Learning never ends
Over time, when taking a new volunteer role, I sit back to ask myself this question. How can I make a difference here? With this, I make a conscious effort to maximize every chance of learning. On the other hand, when you interact with people and share experiences you learn more from each other. You further understand your strengths, weaknesses and some may even find purpose. So, volunteering is one way to prove that learning never ends.
Making it happen
Every day, change-makers are bringing up innovative ways to reduce social problems in diverse regions of the world. They rely on non-profits as the major drivers of social change. More so, they are vital in strengthening social networks. Hence, the need to identify with them and support those impact initiatives.
Even after retirement, a volunteer still finds fulfillment deploying her skillset, in her words,
“Five years later, and I am still happy volunteering. I gain a sense of achievement and satisfaction in my role, and in the knowledge that I’ve personally helped people to find a volunteering opportunity.”
While volunteering can be fun, commitment can be challenging. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of your time. Giving in even simple ways can help those in need, and develop the community.
In spite of this, it is ideal to volunteer for projects that fit your skills, abilities and most importantly, your interests. We can help in transforming our communities through volunteering.
Corporation for National & Community Service (2007). The Health Benefits of Volunteering. Available at https://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07_0506_hbr.pdf. <Accessed on February 29, 2020>
Journal of Humanity and Social Science (2007) Volunteerism as a Strategy for Community Development in Nigeria. Available at: http://www.iosrjournals.org/iosr-jhss/papers/Vol.%2022%20Issue5/Version-3/H2205036065.pdf. <Accessed on March 1 2020 >
HelpGuide International (2019). Volunteering and it’s Surprising Benefits. Available at https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/volunteering-and-its-surprising-benefits.htm <Accessed on February 29, 2020>
Reading Partners (2016). Community Thrive When Volunteers Unite. Available at: https://readingpartners.org/blog/communities-thrive-when-volunteers-unite/. <Accessed on March 1, 2020>
Volunteering Journeys (2016). Available at https://volunteeringjourneys.com/volunteering-ideas-2/. <Accessed on February 29, 2020>
IVolunteer International is a 501(c)3 tech-nonprofit registered in the United States with operations worldwide. Using a location-based mobile application, we mobilize volunteers to take action in their local communities. Our vision is creating 7-billion volunteers. We are an internationally recognized nonprofit organization and is also a Civil Society Associated with the United Nations Department of Global Communications. Visit our profiles on Guidestar, Greatnonprofits, and FastForward.