VolunteerHub reports that one out of four American’s donate their time to organizations with missions they believe in. According to a United States Census Bureau study, 62.6 million people volunteered in 2015 alone.
Volunteering, as explained by Reference.com, helps the community by enabling non-profit organizations to provide food, shelter, and services for the less fortunate. These organizations can cut costs when volunteers complete tasks that reduce the need for paid personnel. The cost savings created by volunteers also means more money can be allocated to local improvement projects.
Volunteers provide daycare and eldercare to families that may not be able to afford these valuable services without assistance. For example, Duet Arizona and The Neighbors Care Alliance (NCA) are neighborhood volunteer programs with a shared mission of helping older adults thrive safely in their homes for as long as possible. Volunteers support older adults through a variety of services which can include transportation to medical appointments and shopping, running errands, meal delivery, phone calls and visits, light house and yard work, and caregiver respite. Neighbors connecting to neighbors can reduce the social isolation many older adults face while helping to meet everyday needs.
Schools are strengthened when volunteers donate time and resources to tutor students, building literacy and knowledge. Support for youth through mentoring and after-school programs helps build the self-esteem and personal growth of community youth, thus encouraging them to become strong citizens and future volunteers. Contact your local school district to find out how you can serve.
What’s In It For You
Volunteering doesn’t have to be 100% altruistic. You should get something out of it too. Indeed.com lists these as some of the top personal benefits of volunteering.
1. Find a sense of purpose.
Find your purpose through volunteering and becoming part of something greater than yourself.
2. Provides a sense of community.
Volunteering can help you feel connected to those you are helping in the community.
3. Meet new friends.
Volunteering is a great way to meet new friends as well as strengthen existing connections with friends, family, or coworkers. As a volunteer, you'll typically interact with people from diverse backgrounds, which allows you to learn other perspectives.
4. Increases your social skills.
Volunteering gives you a chance to talk to new people and sharpen your social skills.
5. Improves self-esteem.
Volunteering may boost your self-esteem and self-confidence. When you do something you feel is worthwhile and valuable for your community, it gives you a sense of accomplishment that may help you feel more fulfilled about your life and any future goals.
6. Teaches you valuable skills.
The training and hands-on experience you gain while volunteering can help you learn new skills and build upon ones you already have. You can then put these skills on your resume to show employers how you build relationships outside of work in addition to any personal interests that can set you apart from other candidates.
7. Provides job prospects.
Along with acquiring valuable skills and experience, you may also meet people while volunteering who can become your mentors or at least a part of your professional social network.
8. Brings fun into your life.
Many people use volunteering to pursue their hobbies while making a difference. For example, if you’re interested in the outdoors, you might volunteer at your community garden or a children's summer camp.
9. Can help you be happier.
It often feels good to contribute to projects and organizations that mean something to you. These good feelings can help lessen the effects of stress, anger, or anxiety. Volunteering may provide the tools you need to be a happy and well-rounded individual. Building bonds and connections with people you volunteer with also may counteract any social isolation. Many volunteer opportunities also may involve physical labor to keep you active and reduce stress.
10. Gets you out of your comfort zone.
Through volunteer work, you may overcome the personal challenges of leaving your comfort zone and doing something new with people you may not know. You may be faced with various problems to solve as a volunteer that require you to exercise critical thinking skills that aid your own personal development.
Finding Volunteer Opportunities
Before seeking volunteer opportunities, there are some things to consider.
1. What causes do you care about — animals, children, the elderly, education, etc.?
2. What skills and knowledge can you offer?
3. How often and how many hours at a time can you volunteer?
4. Do you have the means to get to the volunteer site?
5. Do you have any physical or mental limitations?
6. What did you enjoy or not enjoy about previous volunteering experiences?
Once those questions have been answered, it's time to find an organization to lend your time to. Ask friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues for suggestions. Great Non Profits, and Volunteer Match are helpful places to look. You never know when an opportunity will present itself.
“I had never heard of Moon & Stars Animal Rescue," says Susan, a ROTH staff member. "While my carpets were being cleaned, the technician commented about my cats – which is why my carpets were being cleaned. He said his friend volunteered with a rescue that was in dire need of fosters and gave me her number. I've been volunteering with the rescue for more than a year.”
If you are not ready to take a leap, take baby steps. Rather than committing to one organization for a lengthy period, try out different ones for one-off events or tasks such as at a 5K, rummage sale, mass mailing, backpack stuffing, for example. Test driving organizations will allow you to meet volunteers, staff, and learn more about their mission.
For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert for 35 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the Rosie on the House radio program from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturdays on KTAR-FM (92.3) in Phoenix; KGVY 1080AM 100.7FM; 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KNST-AM (790) in Tucson.