What are the benefits to individuals and groups that volunteer?
There are many advantage to volunteering your time and effort into your community. These benefits include: personal satisfaction, making a difference in your community, pride, and accomplishment in a job that serves a worthwhile reason. The following are also benefits of volunteering in your community:
- Solving community problems
- Strengthen communities
- Improve lives
- Connect to others
- Transform our own lives
The City is focusing on many volunteer opportunities to assist those affected by today’s job market. Volunteering is a means of gaining experience, contacts, and a reputation. Volunteering can also be more toward “episodic volunteering” or helping others on a one-time basis, allowing volunteers to derive benefits of volunteering without making long term time commitments, this practice lets busy people volunteer once a month on various community projects.
Volunteering makes good business sense during all stages of the life cycle. From the student learning a new skill to the senior practicing old skills, working at a volunteer job can be practical and fulfilling.
Here are a few things to consider in deciding on what type or level of volunteering you want to get involved with:
Benefits of Volunteer Work (Adults)
- Professional volunteers – degreed and/or experienced – provide specialized assistance that is needed to address key areas and often get desirable assignments. Professionals may be seeking challenges outside the realm of their everyday work place or keeping their skills up between jobs
- Stay-at-home parents may seek new opportunities to meet interesting people or learn new skills in case they re-enter the marketplace
- Some volunteer assignments, such as school projects, church projects, Girl Scouts, and Boy Scouts allow parents to help the community while enhancing their relationship with their child (or children)
- People can meet new friends and develop long term relationships at volunteer jobs, especially when the assignment is something they thoroughly enjoy
- Childless adults (or empty nesters whose children have grown up already) often seek volunteer work that allows them to help children through direct interaction
- Older Americans can stay active, get involved in the community, meet new people, practice a former profession or learn a new one at a volunteer job Retired workers sometimes feel it’s an honor to return to the work force on a part-time volunteer basis because they can donate their valuable skills to worthwhile projects rather than focusing on the full-time responsibilities of supporting a family
Benefits of Volunteer Work (Children)
- Teaching volunteerism to children (especially by joining them in their efforts) may set a lifetime example of helping others
- Students know employers are impressed when a resume lists volunteer work. College students who need job experience and high school students trying to qualify for scholarships are perfect volunteer candidates
- Recent graduates can meet people and gain work experience through volunteering. The attitude among today's recent college graduates is to get out there and do whatever is necessary to gain experience
The benefits of volunteering are particularly strong for young people. Young volunteers learn how to respect differences and how to appreciate their own families and circumstances. Teenagers who volunteer regularly at a nursing home or shelter learn to become trustworthy as others in the community come to rely on them. In addition, they get wonderful on-the-job skills training. And there's been a lot of research into how volunteering prevents risky behaviors in teens, and can help increase academic success in teens already considered at-risk
Benefits of volunteering in the community are:
- Those who need the help realize others care about them
- Beautification projects not only help neighborhoods look nice, but also help cut down on crime
- Students considered at-risk often do better in school when they have a mentor to work with them
- Animals at the City Animal Care Center receive much-needed love and affection
While helping others is what volunteerism is all about, teens also find out while they are giving, they are also receiving. Some of their benefits include:
By doing things that interest them, teens often gain new skills and find new career opportunities that they hadn't thought of before. Students working with animal organizations may discover they would like to become a veterinarian. Those helping disabled individuals may find opportunities in health care or social services. In addition, the experiences gained in volunteer settings can provide teens with skills in leadership and decision-making, and also look attractive on college and scholarship applications.
What are the Health Benefits of Volunteering?
Research has found a significant connection between volunteering and good health. The report shows that volunteers have greater longevity, higher functional ability, lower rates of depression and less incidence of heart disease. Research suggests that volunteering is particularly beneficial to the health of older adults and those serving 100 hours annually. According to the report:
- A study of adults age 65 and older found that the positive effect of volunteering on physical and mental health is due to the personal sense of accomplishment an individual gains from his or her volunteer activities.
- Another study found that volunteering led to lower rates of depression in individuals 65 and older.
- A Duke study found that individuals who volunteered after experiencing heart attacks reported reductions in despair and depression – two factors that that have been linked to mortality in post-coronary artery disease patients.
- An analysis of longitudinal data found that individuals over 70 who volunteered approximately 100 hours had less of a decline in self-reported health and functioning levels, experienced lower levels of depression, and had more longevity.
- Two studies found that volunteering threshold is about 100 hours per year, or about two hours a week. Individuals who reached the threshold enjoyed significant health benefits, although there were not additional benefits beyond the 100-hour mark.
The newest trend is to use volunteer work as a means to “try on” a new career, get free on-the-job training and look for job leads and industry contacts. The fact that volunteers are helping themselves while helping others doesn’t really matter in the larger scheme of things. Regardless of their reasons for getting involved in volunteer work, they are still providing a valuable service to the company, offering their skills to those who need them.
Adapted from: www.nationalservice.gov