Volunteering: Making a Difference

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” 

-Winston Churchill

Have you recently been inspired to volunteer? Volunteering can provide vital help to those in need, it can help worthwhile causes of all kinds and inspire your community. There are countless opportunities for volunteering all around you, so much so that it can become overwhelming. We have broken down some simple steps to get you prepared and ready to volunteer and make a difference. Follow these simple steps, take time in making the right choice, commit, and start volunteering to see the difference one person can make. 

How to Get Started:

  1. Determine your level of commitment. Every one of us has different situations, work, and family commitments can take up a lot of time for many of us. While it is admirable to want to volunteer, some volunteer opportunities require greater commitments than others. Be honest with yourself, and determine how much time you can commit to volunteering each, week, month, or year. 
  2. Think about your individual talents and interests. It is important to take time in considering where your time and talents can be best utilized. Maybe you have an extensive background in education, or you are a talented artist or musician or have excellent cooking skills. Also, consider your personal interests. Think about if you could sit and read a book or watch a show about any subject, animals, the environment, home remodeling, or arts and crafts.
  3. Search through the different categories of volunteer opportunities, before selecting one even if you think you know where and how you want to volunteer. There are so many opportunities and there may be a better match for you out there than what you already have in mind. We have broken down categories of volunteerism by sectors of interest and also by geographical areas.

Find the Right Opportunity for You:

  • Select a cause that you are passionate about.
  • Make sure it matches your skillset and commitment level.
  • Connect with the organization and complete any necessary paperwork.
  • Follow up with your chosen charity or organization regularly.

Some thought-provoking questions to ask yourself if you are having trouble deciding on a volunteer opportunity:

  • Would you prefer to work with adults, children, animals, or on your own remotely?
  • Do you enjoy working alone or as part of a team?
  • Are you a “behind the scenes” person or do you enjoy being in the forefront?
  • Are you willing to make a large time commitment or small?
  • Do you have any unique skills?
  • What specific causes are important to you?

How to Be a Great Volunteer:

There are some simple basics to keep in mind while starting your volunteer experience. You want to have a mutually beneficial experience, make a difference, and enjoy it as well. 

  • Honor your volunteer commitments.
  • Behave professionally when volunteering and communicating.
  • Ask questions if you need clarification or have concerns.
  • Be gracious and extend gratitude for any training or professional development you receive through a volunteer organization.

The Benefits of Volunteering:

If you are still considering volunteering, but are not quite convinced, or if you’re trying to convince a loved one to join, we have listed some of the many benefits of volunteering.

  1. Connect with others and your community

Volunteering is a great opportunity to connect with other like-minded people. It also fosters a sense of community and comradery. It is a great way to make new friends and forge new relationships with people. If you volunteer as a family you can enrich and strengthen familial relationships. It is an awesome opportunity to bond with your children as well. 

  1. Have fun and be fulfilled at the same time

Doing volunteer work can bring meaning to your life. Volunteering allows you to explore interests and passions that you may not be able to in your daily work or home life. It can renew your motivation, creativity, and passion in life. Since, unlike work, we choose our volunteer experience based on our interests, it can be fun and stimulating. 

  1. Improve your mood and reduce stress

Volunteering can have a profound effect on your overall well-being. The social interactions and sense of purpose can combat feelings of depression and isolation. Knowing that you are making a difference encourages self-confidence and an increased level of self-worth. Research has found that helping others brings us happiness and pleasure. Volunteering can improve your mood and help reduce your levels of stress.

  1. Learn new skills or advance your career

Whether you are too young for the workforce or looking to make a change in careers, volunteering is a great opportunity to acquire job skills and experience. Volunteering can help advance your career through new connections and new opportunities. It can also help you explore interests that may lead to a career change or a new path altogether. It is a wonderful way to try out a new career before making the leap. Young people or those lacking job experience can gain basic job skills and personal references to add to their resumes.