11 Brilliant Benefits of Volunteering
It undoubtedly looks good on your CV. But did you know that there are loads of other brilliant benefits of volunteering, both for your career, your health and your social and personal life? Here are just 11 of the ways that giving back can also give back to you.
1. Gain experience in a different sector or role
This is an obvious one, but volunteering can be so useful if you want to change career, and especially if you want to move into the charity sector. You get to try out a new role or specialism, as well as gain some valuable experience. Even if you volunteer in a different area to the one you’d like to work in, having volunteer experience still boosts your CV. It gives you valuable insight into the charity sector and shows you’re proactive and altruistic.
Don’t forget that becoming a trustee is also a form of volunteering and can help you to gain experience at a more senior level.
2. Make new contacts
If you’re looking for a paid job in the sector, then volunteering is a great way to network and build contacts—almost without trying. And the more connections you make, the more likely you are to be the first to hear about available new roles.
3. Fill a skill or experience gap
As well as generally gaining experience and learning new skills, volunteering can be a helpful tool if you need to fill a particular gap in your experience. For example, if you’re working towards the next rung on the career ladder and you need more digital content experience, volunteering to support a charity’s social media could be an ideal opportunity.
4. Support a cause you’re passionate about
Volunteering gives you an outlet to be true to yourself by supporting a cause you believe in. Whether it’s climate change, protecting animals or helping children learn to read, there will be a chance for you to live your values through volunteering.
5. Forge social connections
You’ll get the opportunity to meet lots of new people, and depending on the cause you support, from all different backgrounds. These social connections are good for your health, with volunteering proven to help overcome loneliness. Nervous about volunteering on your own? Then why not get a friend involved too?
6. Support your local community
Giving back and getting involved with your community is one of the New Economics Foundation’s Five Ways to Wellbeing. Not only does supporting your local area help you to feel connected to your immediate surroundings and build the social connections mentioned above, but people who are proactively kind to and help others report being happier. Feeling useful and needed by others increases your sense of purpose and raises your self-esteem.
7. Gain in confidence
Getting out there and volunteering, meeting new people, learning new skills and knowing you’re doing something worthwhile can all give you a huge confidence boost and sense of pride in your achievements. And this is a benefit that will very much spill over into all the other areas of your life—bonus!
8. Improve your physical health
Regular volunteering can increase your physical health due to factors such as increased exercise and fresh air. Even virtual volunteering from home can help your brain stay sharp, which reduces the risk of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Some studies have even shown that volunteering can make you live longer.
9. Boost your mental wellbeing
Just the knowledge that you’re doing something meaningful, helping people and making a difference in the world can be enough to lift your mood, so it’s no surprise that volunteering can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Helping others and working towards a bigger cause can put your own problems into perspective and give you a different outlook on the world.
10. Time to pursue your interests
Ever struggle to find time for your hobbies and interests? Volunteering can allow you that dedicated time to do the things you enjoy, such as gardening or dog walking. And once you’ve committed to that time, it won’t get squeezed out of your schedule by boring things like chores.
11. Have fun
Getting out of your comfort zone, doing something you enjoy and getting to know new people—put simply, volunteering can be really fun!
Volunteering can open doors for you and has many brilliant benefits beyond developing your career. Convinced? Get involved and start browsing opportunities to suit you. Not only can you help others, but you can also reap the benefits yourself.