12 Social, Professional and Personal Benefits of Volunteering
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 30 August 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Many people volunteer to meet new people, contribute to causes they care about, learn new skills or develop connections for their careers. If you want to improve your experience in your community and gain valuable skills, volunteering may be for you. Through volunteering, you can make a difference in the lives of people, animals and the environment. In this article, we discuss the social, personal and career benefits that volunteering can offer.
Read more: How to Find Volunteer Work
Social benefits of volunteering
Whether you enjoy social interaction or prefer to work alone, volunteering has something for you. Other social benefits of volunteering include:
Meeting new people
Volunteering can be an opportunity to meet new people who share the same interests as you. When you choose an organisation to volunteer with, you gain access to people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences who all share a common goal. You can learn from the experience and perspective of others. Volunteering can also strengthen existing relationships by providing a common activity for you and your family, coworkers or friends.
**Related: How To Become a Youth Worker**
Building social skills
By creating a social situation for you to interact with other people, volunteering allows you to work on your social skills. You can practise working as a team towards a common goal. Volunteering can also give you experience delegating tasks, taking direction and forming social bonds that can develop into important personal and business relationships.
**Related: Important Workplace Social Skills**
Creating a sense of community
Volunteering can show you how your contribution to others improves your surrounding community. This can make you feel more connected to the people around you. Having a sense of your effect on the lives of others may inspire you to engage with other aspects of your community, like local politics or community programmes. By improving your community, you can also add value to your own experience within it.
Related: What Are Communication Skills?
When you do something you feel is valuable for the community, you may get a feeling of accomplishment. This feeling can make you feel better about yourself, making you feel other things are possible. Heightened self-esteem can make you more likely to pursue challenges or set goals that can help you improve your life.
Professional benefits of volunteering
Volunteering can help you grow your career. You can gain valuable experience and build skills that can help you get paid jobs in a career you're interested in. Here are some ways that you can advance your career through volunteering:
Volunteering gives you the opportunity to have a new experience without having to be hired for a full-time job. If there's a topic or service that you're interested in as a career, you may be able to volunteer first to get an idea of what that career may be like. Developing a broad range of experience can give you a unique perspective that may be helpful to you in your career. You may learn diverse ways to view a problem and strengthen your reasoning skills to find solutions.
Learn valuable skills
The training and hands-on experience you gain while volunteering can help you learn new skills and build upon the skills you already have. Volunteering can help you get training in using specific machinery, or become familiar with specific work environments. It can also help familiarise you with laws and regulations on specific issues. Depending on where you volunteer, you may be able to learn about the practical application of advocacy or what it's like to work for a non-profit.
These skills can help prepare you for a career in what you're interested in. For example, if you're a volunteer who helps plan initiatives, you can learn how to manage a project, build a schedule and fundraise. You can put this experience and skills on your CV.
Read more: Volunteer Skills: Definitions and Examples
Provide job prospects
Volunteering can provide you with opportunities to meet people in your field. These people can become your mentors, or at least become a part of your network. If you choose to pursue a career in the field you volunteered in, the connections you make may help you grow your job prospects. The experience you gain while volunteering may also be very attractive to potential employers.
Related: Networking Tips for Jobseekers
Personal well-being benefits of volunteering
After helping others, you might feel excited, happy, helpful or thankful, which positively affects your overall well-being. Volunteering can help you:
Have fun and feel fulfilled
Taking part in volunteer opportunities can help you gain a sense of fulfilment. Many people use charity work and volunteer opportunities to develop additional relationships and interests outside their work. For example, many people use volunteering to make time for their hobbies while making a difference.
If you're interested in the outdoors, you can volunteer at your community garden or a children's summer camp. These activities can help you learn new skills and provide you with a renewed sense of creativity and motivation that carries over into your personal and professional life. It can also help you learn more about your interests by giving you practical experience and connecting you with people who share your interests as well.
Related: 14 of the Most Fun Jobs in the World
Develop a sense of purpose
The work you complete as a volunteer is purposeful and likely helps other people. You may find your purpose through becoming part of something greater than yourself. Volunteering is useful at any stage in life. As a younger person, volunteering can help you make connections and develop experience that can change your perspective. If you're an older adult who may have retired or lost a spouse, volunteering and helping others can keep you mentally stimulated and give you a regular appointment or event to look forward to. These benefits can help you feel more connected to your community.
Related: Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation
Counteract the effects of stress, anger and anxiety
Contributing to your community or developing an external sense of purpose can lessen the effects of stress, anger and anxiety. It can give you the opportunity to express appreciation and receive thanks from others, both of which can help you feel useful. It can also give you a reason to get out of your home and into your community. Building bonds and connections with people you volunteer with counteracts the social isolation that often causes stress and anxiety. By strengthening your bonds with your community, you can also create a support system for yourself to lessen these feelings.
Through volunteer work, you can overcome personal challenges by leaving your comfort zone and doing something new with people you may not know. By putting yourself in new situations, you may face various challenges that require you to exercise critical thinking skills. You may also face situations in which you'll learn troubleshooting skills that are also critical to your own personal development. Volunteering can be a safe place to practise these skills, without the pressure of having your actions affect your career.
Stay physically healthy
Many volunteer opportunities involve physical labour that helps you keep active. It give you the chance to be outside, working with other people and physically contributing. Types of volunteering that include physical elements are:
picking up litter
working with animals
Volunteering also reduces stress and boosts happiness. As a result, you can counteract some of the health effects that stress can have on your body.
Tips for choosing a volunteer opportunity
Volunteering allows you to affect and connect with your community. There are many volunteer opportunities that fit a variety of interests. Here are some tips for finding a volunteer opportunity:
Start with the basics: Some of the most common volunteer opportunities are helping at an animal shelter, planting flowers, trees or shrubs at your local garden, public beach or park clean-ups, talking or reading to the elderly and political campaigning.
Choose a volunteer opportunity you're passionate about: You'll get to explore your interests and have fun doing so.
Work for volunteer organisations you believe in: Supporting a cause you're passionate about can be a meaningful and energising disruption from your everyday routine.
Volunteer with friends: Ask your friends where they like to volunteer or what causes they care about. You can spend time together while giving back to your community and encourage each other.
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