Volunteering has become more popular than ever. In Australia alone, about 34% of the male population and 38% of the female population were recorded as volunteers in 2010. This increase from previous years was mainly due to benefits both the volunteer and the organisation get from volunteering. Indeed, volunteering has not only contributed to cost-effectiveness among different companies and organizations that accept volunteers but also gave significant benefits to the volunteers themselves.
One important reported advantage of volunteering in a private organization, whether in Australia or overseas, is that it enhances knowledge and skills of the volunteers which later on contributed to success in their careers. However, the advantages of volunteering are not limited to this. In this article, we discuss other surprising benefits of volunteering.
1. You get to apply and enhance your skills.
As already mentioned, volunteering helps you enhance your personal skills. This is because you will be able to apply your expertise to the specific area you volunteer in. The more you practice these skills, the better you become. For instance, if you have a healthcare background, you may be able to work and train with experienced health care professionals who can help mold your existing skills. Not only that, volunteering can be an avenue for learning and developing new skills since you will be exposed to situations you may rarely encounter otherwise. Whether you are enhancing your skills or developing new ones, volunteering can build up your qualifications (and will look impressive on your resume).
2. You get to develop social skills.
Volunteers are assigned to different locations and do different activities when they connect with the community. Common volunteering activities include: sales, coaching, teaching, information management, transporting people or goods, counseling, personal assistance etc. and expose volunteers to different types of people. Therefore, volunteers are able to adjust to different personalities and develop better socialization skills. This also helps them expand their network giving them better career opportunities.
3. Student volunteers can earn college credits.
As most volunteer programs are connected with different universities and Colleges such as the Australian College of Applied Psychology, students who volunteer may earn college credit for their participation. So aside from enjoying the benefits mentioned above, student volunteers would be able to make their scholastic records more favourable which will help them with the possibility to land a reputable job right after graduation.
4. Volunteering increases family bonds.
While there are solo volunteers, there is also an increasing number of family volunteers in Australia today. Parents who volunteer together with their children are able to show their kids how heart-warming giving back to the community can be. Parents are able to instill in their children, in the informative years, how rewarding helping others is without expecting anything material in return. This enhances the family bond as they are able to do activities together rather than individually. In fact, volunteering as a family may create some of the most memorable times together.
5. Volunteering improves physical and mental health.
Volunteers rarely spend time in isolation. They are always in contact with the community. Owing to this, the risk for developing depression from isolation is decreased. In addition, studies have shown that volunteering also generates a positive influence on adults and heart disease with lesser complaints recorded on heart disease associated symptoms.
6. You get to share common interests with people from different cultures.
Volunteering may provide grounds for interaction with people from different cultures who share a common goal and interest. As volunteers rarely come from one specific background, you will have a chance to enrich your cultural sensitivity as you work together with other volunteers from different cultures. And because you have the same goals and interests, interacting with such volunteers would just come naturally.
7. It can be a stepping-stone for your next career change.
Ever felt unhappy with your current career but don’t want to commit long-term to the next job? If so, volunteering can help you try out a new career without having to make any commitments. Volunteering helps you experience other fields of work without the responsibility of locking yourself in to a new area for too long. Hence, volunteering can let you experiment with different career ideas until you finally discover the right or perfect one for you.
These are just some of the very many benefits that volunteering can offer. Even though none of these benefits include monetary gain, these volunteering benefits are things you can enjoy better than you can with money. Indeed, volunteering offers life experiences that no amount of cash can buy. It improves your overall well-being and that is the best reward you can get. If you want the benefits of some of these suggestions, I recommend you volunteer now. Come and help us out at Sheltered by Grace and start enjoying the volunteering ride!