With the recession (you know, the one that’s “over”), volunteers are needed more than ever.
If you can’t give money, give your time. Volunteering has a meaningful, positive impact on the community around you. And did you know that it can have many benefits for you also?
Volunteering is the perfect way to discover something you’re really good at and develop a new skill. Often, these new skills can transfer into your business life.
It’s never too late to learn new skills.
Just because you’ve finished your formal education or are bound by a particular type of employment, it doesn’t mean that you should stop learning. So check out becoming a volunteer.
Mahatma Gandhi said,
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
That pretty much covers the why of volunteering.
We sometimes take our communities for granted. There just isn’t enough money or resources, including people, to keep organizations and services going. To volunteer is to help others while having an impact on the wellbeing of the community. Simply put – you return to society some of the benefits that society gives you.
It’s not an obligation, it’s a privilege.
Volunteering is good for your health.
According to Dr’s Oz and Roizen in the September issue of SUCCESS Magazine,
“Almost every study of longevity indicates one secret that makes people healthier and happier: helping others.”
In a study led by Vanderbilt University, they divided the 3,617 respondents into two groups: those who volunteered and those who didn’t. Comparisons were made for levels of happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, sense of control over life, physical health, and depression.
They found that “volunteer work was good for both mental and physical health.
People of all ages who volunteered were happier and experienced better physical health and less depression.”
Another study by Boston College revealed that pain, depression, and disability decreased after volunteering. Several months later affects continued suggesting that volunteering may actually help alleviate chronic pain.
Depression? The University of Texas found that initial volunteering lowered depression for people over 65, and over time benefited all age groups.
It’s sounding pretty good so far, huh?
Muhammad Ali summed it up well when he said,
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”
Volunteering is good for your career
Almost all volunteers share a common bond of developing leaders. Whether it’s a local civic group, your local PTA, or Scout Troop, they all need volunteers who are willing to step up to leadership positions. This presents a great opportunity for you to develop your leadership skills.
It can help you a great deal in your career since you’ll be someone that others will follow.
Volunteering presents an opportunity for leaders to learn and practice skills while helping others. By volunteering, you can share your leadership skills with the community while informally networking and meeting people that you may otherwise never have met. You can never tell who you’ll meet or what new information you’ll learn and what impact it could have on your life.
Volunteering is good for you and good for your organization.
A 2005 survey by TimeBank in the UK showed that among the UK’s 200 leading businesses:
- 73% of employers would recruit a candidate with volunteering experience over one without,
- 94% of employers believe that volunteering can add to skills, and
- 94% of employees who volunteered to learn new skills had benefited either by getting their first job, improving their salary, or being promoted.
Volunteering allows you to see how other organizations run things, so you get exposed to different ways of managing, brainstorming, and solving problems. That can provide a fresh way of looking at the challenges you face in your paid leadership position.
Sign Me Up!
Where can I volunteer?
There are an infinite number of places you can volunteer, for example:
- Social Services
- Civic groups
- Cultural groups
- Educational institutions
- Health care organizations
- Senior centers.
If you don’t know where to start looking for opportunities, try these highly rated and popular sites:
A good leader pays attention to life outside of the work environment. Volunteering reflects and supports a complete picture of you, and shows your commitment, dedication, and interests. Show your staff what you’re passionate about and you just may inspire them also.
So what are you doing to volunteer in your community to serve yourself and your company by serving others? How are you supporting the idea of volunteering to the people you lead. When thinking about the upcoming 2011 calendar, how many hours, days, or people can you schedule to serve in a voluntary capacity next year? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | (727) 568-5433
Image Sources: reg.dojiggy.com, elseachelsea.typepad.com, static.howstuffworks.com
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