Carving out time for volunteering may feel impossible with your schedule. Between juggling work, family, hobbies, activities, and friends, life often feels jam-packed. But when you step in to help others, you not only fill a vital need in your community, but you personally also benefit from donating your time, energy, and talents. Want to know how? Read on!
At a glance, It’s easy to see how community service benefits others—providing clothing, housing, education, companionship, task assistance, etc. But serving others doesn’t just help communities—it helps you, too. When you step into a serving role and accomplish a task—be it building a house, helping with a fundraiser, painting a run-down school—you can gain a great sense of empowerment, significance, and confidence. A UnitedHealth study found that:
- 94% of people who volunteered over a one-year period said that it improved their mood
- 76% of volunteers said serving others actually made them feel healthier.
Plain and simple: doing good feels good. But the benefits don’t stop there.
Giving your time and talents to others is also a way to hone hobby and professional skills. Often charities and non-profits need help with tasks in areas like graphic design, photography, videography, writing, tutoring and education, coaching, and organizing (just to name a few). Your talents and skills can be put to great work helping others while you gain extra experience.
Getting out into the community broadens your network of social contacts, too. Sometimes to move ahead professionally, it’s more who you know than what. Volunteering puts you in a position to meet many new faces from a variety of backgrounds—both personal and professional. Making these contacts is a great way to not only form new friendships, but to widen your net of business connections, too.
Lastly, serving roles can be a good opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and experience personal growth. This might be as simple as trying something new, like building a house, landscaping a school, or fostering shelter animals. Or you can adopt a leadership role by organizing a fundraiser, coaching a team, or managing a big project. Pushing the limits on what you think you can do is a great way to grow on a personal and professional level.
Not sure where to start? There are some great online sites for finding new opportunities like VolunteerMatch, Idealist, and United Way. You can always call an organization you’re interested in directly, too, and see how you might help. No matter which route you take, make 2017 the year you give volunteering a try. You won’t regret it.