Most people fall into one of two categories; they either love volunteering or don’t see the point in it. If you fall into the latter category, your opinion might change after discovering seven of the most positive effects of volunteering in your free time.
Impact on Others
The easiest benefit of volunteering to identify is being able to help others. Working with Habitat for Humanity gives you the opportunity to build homes for impoverished people. If you’re part of a religious organization, performing missionary work can be both practically helpful and a way for you to share your spirituality with others. Even something as simple as helping your daughter sell Girl Scout cookies can make a small impact on the entire organization. There are endless ways that you can benefit others by volunteering your time.
“Older adults who volunteer and who engage in more hours of volunteering report higher levels of well-being,” a study in the Journals of Gerontology states. Does this mean younger adults get less out of volunteering? Contrarily, “78 percent [of U.S. adults who volunteer] report that volunteering lowers their levels of stress,” according to News Medical. Giving back to others takes some of your focus off of yourself, but can still make you feel productive. It’s as the old saying goes: out of sight, out of mind.
You might be wondering, how can volunteering help my physical health? Harvard Health Publications can answer, saying, “A growing body of evidence suggests that people who give their time to others might also be rewarded with better physical health—including lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan.” Having a healthy blood pressure can reduce the chance of strokes and heart attacks.
Employers love to see volunteer work on a résumé. This shows employers that you are dedicating your time to work that doesn’t provide you a financial benefit. It shows that you care more about a cause than your own personal gain, and can be a great way to talk yourself up, without seeming egotistical.
Volunteering is typically a people-driven hobby. In fact, Points of Light Institute broke it down, saying, “The nature of collaboration on volunteering includes: community partnership, networking, advocacy, funding, support, and invitation to participate in events.” These are just several of the largest ways volunteering impacts social cohesion. Also, if you’re volunteering in an organization where you don’t know anyone, you may find yourself becoming part of a new community, which can provide a sense of belonging.
Positivity in the Workplace
If volunteering makes employees healthier and happier, why wouldn’t that affect your workplace? Happier people produce better results at work. Corporations that schedule time during their business day for employees to volunteer find them to be, overall, more productive, more satisfied with their work, and happier, according to Cyber Grants. If work is taking twice as long and producing worse results, opening up time for volunteering during work hours may be a great way to team build and refocus the group.
Learn New Skills
Some volunteer positions may teach you more than others, but the possibilities are endless. Working at a soup kitchen can help you learn how to interact with people outside of your social sphere, while tutoring the neighbor kids can give you insight on how good of a teacher you are. Volunteering can also give you a chance to experience new fields and find a career path that interests you. Running programs at a nursing home might help you discover that you love working with the elderly, while writing a promotional material for your church might show you that you have a knack for marketing. From construction to foreign languages, there are volunteer opportunities that will give you some impressive new skills to talk up in your next interview.
Volunteering is a practical way to help your community and yourself. Although there are multitudes of benefits, these are just seven of the largest. There are hundreds of volunteer organizations around the world that need your help. Now the question remains: where will you start?