Now that spring is in full bloom, maybe you’ve found a way to turn your spring cleaning finds into charitable gifts. If you’re already in giving mode, you may be looking for additional ways to support organizations in need.
One great way to do that is to give your time. And volunteering just may benefit you as much as any organization you’re assisting.
Just as volunteering is a rewarding way to help build your community and the organizations you support, it can also help your mental and physical health, introduce you to others in your community, and help you further your career (which can help your income, too).
Here are five ways volunteering can start making a difference in your own life:
1. Boosting your health. Making volunteering a practice has proved a healthy move. Those who volunteer tend to have lower rates of mortality and depression, and higher functional ability than those who don’t, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal government agency. Volunteering seniors benefit in particular, because taking part can give its participants physical and social activity – and a great sense of purpose.
2. Helping you update old skills and learn new ones. In exchange for your time, charity organizations can provide you with an education. As a volunteer, you might get the opportunity to learn software, develop executive and project-management skills and sharpen your problem-solving abilities.
3. Letting you test-drive new careers. Volunteering can be a gateway to a new profession. Donating your time to organizations can let you experiment with different responsibilities that could potentially lead you into a different field.
4. Introducing you to new people. Working for charities allows you to meet new people – other volunteers, those running the organizations and those the organization serves. By making new connections, you can enrich your life both socially and professionally.
5. Giving you credibility with employers. Putting your energy into charity work can pay off when you’re updating your resume or meeting with potential employers. The skills you’ve sharpened while volunteering can give you an edge in landing a job. And if you’ve been between full-time work, volunteering helps you apply yourself.
One study, by Reed Specialist Recruitment in the U.K., found that:
- 73 percent of employers would recruit a candidate with volunteering experience over one without.
- 94 percent of employers believe that volunteering can add skills.
- 94 percent of employees who volunteered to learn new skills wound up getting their first job, improving their salaries or being promoted.
Ultimately, when you volunteer, you’re giving back to one kind of community or another. And you may find that you’re get something valuable in return.
What kind of volunteer work have you done? How did the experience enrich you?