The world’s issues are becoming more urgent by the day. Food insecurity, infectious disease, wars and conflicts, water shortages, and extreme poverty are just the tip of the iceberg for addressing our planet’s pressing problems. And, to make matters worse, COVID-19 has increased the number of people who need assistance from their neighbors.
This goes without saying, but volunteering matters. The benefits extend far beyond altruism. A growing body of research shows that volunteering provides various benefits, some of which may surprise you. Here are five of them:
The Power to change lives
We know from experience that bringing about change can instill hope in others. Whether you’re feeding malnourished kids, collecting items for a food bank, or fostering/adopting a stray pet, you are making tangible change in someone else’s life. When you give back, you are not only helping with the direct issue at hand, but you are reminding the world that hope is alive and well.
When you join forces with a team or organization to volunteer, you effectively raise awareness for a great cause. Posting to your social media and talking to your friends and family about what you’re doing to help others starts a larger conversation around volunteering. As a society, we need to have these conversations more now than ever. Raising awareness can also encourage more people to get involved. By providing the links to volunteer and pertinent information about an organization, you are helping those in your circle get one step closer to taking action and volunteering.
Social and networking skills
For the most part, volunteering is a social activity. It can expand your list of important contacts in your community, intensifying your connection to the city you call home. For example, the people you volunteer with are great candidates for recommendation letters. These are the people who have witnessed you handle challenging situations and positively interact with people. The more you volunteer, the larger your network will grow.
A chance to pay it forward
We have all been here long enough to know that kindness is contagious. The act of watching someone do something nice for others ignites a desire within us to do the same. Have you ever been in a fast-food line, waiting to pay – only to find out that the car in front of you took care of your order? These random and structured acts of kindness allow you to pay it forward and encourages others to do the same.
Feelings of gratitude
Volunteering is an effective way to gain perspective into your own life. It can make you more appreciative of what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t have. When we feel grateful, we are more inclined to share these positive feelings with others. Deepening your appreciation for your place in this world is one of the most significant benefits of volunteering.