Each year, more than 60 million Americans give nearly 8 billion hours of their time to volunteer causes. It’s an impressive number, but were you a part of that effort? If not, perhaps it’s time to consider how you can help.
Volunteers are also more than twice as likely to donate money to charity — nearly 80 percent of volunteers contributed to charities last year.
What’s in it for me?
Volunteers provide essential services and benefits in their communities. Everything from delivering meals to those who are homebound to serving as volunteer firefighters and in disaster relief efforts, to cleaning up waterways, green spaces and neighborhoods. Professionals donate their time as well; doctors and nurses volunteer in free clinics and disaster areas, financial professionals lead financial literacy workshops in communities. Volunteers are also essential in the arts, taking tickets at performances, museums and other venues. Without the dedication and effort of volunteers, we would not enjoy the vibrant social life we do.
Direct rewards for volunteering
Studies prove that volunteering boosts the volunteer’s mood, self-esteem and even physical fitness. By keeping volunteers in regular contact with others and giving a sense of purpose, volunteering can help combat depression and feelings of isolation. The London School of Economics found that people who volunteer every month are 7 percent more likely to describe themselves as “very happy,” while those who volunteer every two to four weeks are 12 percent more likely.
Joining a volunteer organization is an excellent way to meet friends and become a part of your community, and families can be strengthened by volunteering together. Helping others in the community teaches children important community values and shows them how good it can make them feel to make a difference in someone’s life.
Many volunteer activities, such as neighborhood or environmental clean-ups, require physical activity that helps volunteers stay physically fit. Why not get your exercise and help others at the same time? It’s a win-win situation!
Volunteering can also improve your career by teaching you new skills and honing your ability to work as part of a team and to be a leader. Volunteer work is far from “padding” on your resume. According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, “Volunteers have 27 percent higher odds of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers, possibly due to developing new skills and expanding personal networks.”