Helping Others – Ok, ok file this under obvious. When you volunteer, you are making a direct impact on the people affected by your cause. Whether you’re taking care of malnourished infants, fostering an abandoned or abused pet, or building a home for a family in need, you are making a tangible change in a life by providing hope.
Learning Something New – Learning new skills to enhance your career outlook is one of the most valuable benefits of volunteering. Whether it’s repairs on a home or urban gardening to feed the poor, no matter what volunteer experience you decide on, there will be countless opportunities to learn new practical, social and communication skills.
Raising Awareness – Volunteering helps keep the organization and the cause afloat for the future. That’s because when you volunteer, you help raise awareness for the cause and the organization. You likely do this without realizing it by talking to your family and friends about your volunteer experience.
Seeing the World – One of the most exciting benefits of volunteering is the opportunity to see the world and travel to places you might never have considered. Volunteer abroad programs get you off-the-beaten tourist track to discover a side of the world beyond the brochures and have a culturally immersive experience.
Getting The Job You Want – Volunteering can help you make the transition to a whole new career. Volunteering experience always strengthens a resume and proves your commitment to a cause, making it particularly beneficial for students who are nearing the end of their studies. Volunteering is a great way to take those first steps and make sure your new career path is right for you.
Improving Your Physical and Mental Health – Studies show that those who volunteer tend to have lower mortality and depression rates. Research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health shows that “people who volunteered spent 38 percent fewer nights in the hospital” than non-volunteers. It’s not only because volunteering is often of a physical nature (swinging hammers, trekking through national parks or working with energy-intensive kids), but the mental effects are also positive.
Building Community – Social interaction is one of the great benefits of volunteering. It helps to lower the risk of depression and anxiety while stimulating brain functions and enhancing the immune system. Volunteering helps to create stronger bonds between friends, family and coworkers as they are brought together to work for a cause that is bigger than themselves.
Making New Friends – This is a benefit you probably wouldn’t expect, but when you volunteer, you easily make new friends and they’ll likely be friends for life. Volunteering provides you with an opportunity to get to know like-minded people. Think about it; you’re spending focused time with people who care about the same things that you care about, and who all have similar values.
Personal Growth and Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone – Perhaps the biggest (and least discussed) benefits of volunteering are the chances to break out of your daily routine and shatter your comfort zone. Whether you volunteer locally in your neighborhood or travel to the other side of the world, volunteering almost always comes with challenges that broaden your skill set and push your limits.
Gaining More Time – How many times have you heard someone say that they wished they had more time in the day to get things done? Well, it might sound counter-intuitive, but research in the Harvard Business Review shows that volunteering can make you feel like you have more time! It’s like the idea that those who donate money to charity feel wealthier, with participants expressing that they felt more “time affluent” when they spent less time on themselves.
Being Happy – Researchers at the London School of Economics found that the more people volunteered, the happier they felt. While “happiness” is a hard feeling to quantify, it’s likely a result of a combination of the above benefits of volunteering and how they resonate with each and every individual.
So, what are you waiting for? 😊
Buildabroad.org is a 501c3 non-profit organization founded by Pat McLoughlin and Chad Johnson in 2013 whose mission is to build and repair communities around the world through socially conscious construction.