Ask the Community: Why Do You Volunteer?

5 minute read

Volunteering has a slight irony to it: the more you give, the more you get. By that, I mean that there are so many benefits to be gained from volunteering, from being able to form close friendships to helping upskill you in a career and boost your mental health or clinically reduce stress. It’s almost as though your generosity is being rewarded. And why shouldn’t it be?

But what drives people to decide to volunteer in the first place? What factor is persuasive enough for busy people to take time out of their weeks to serve others? Finding the time isn’t always easy, yet millions of people across the UK get to donate their time to a worthwhile charity every year.

According to the NCVO:

  • 1 million people in the UK volunteered through a club group or organisation in 2018
  • 1 in 5 people volunteer regularly (at least once a month)
  • Over half of recent volunteers reported giving time to more than one organisation

Pretty impressive, no? Clearly there’s something driving people to keep coming back time and time again, and we wanted to determine exactly what that is. That’s why we asked our CharityJob and CharityConnect community why they put their hand to the plough. Here’s what they had to say.

Ask the Community: Why Do You Volunteer?

1. ‘It enriches my life’

In an increasingly individualistic world, where all our digital devises are screaming at us not to look further than eight inches from our face, there is something healthy and right about taking time out of your week to focus on others altruistically. 66.7% of voters on a recent twitter poll agreed and said that it helped them be more outward-looking. It’s a means of developing your character in a way that no TED talk or self-help podcast ever could.

Do you want to be able to look back on your life with a deeper sense of achievement? Genevieve, now aged 84, reflected back on her breath of volunteer experience and told us how it greatly enriched her life with more friendships, experience and opportunities to share her skillset.

Volunteering has enabled me to use my knowledge and experience much more widely than would have been possible otherwise. It has given me friendships, contacts and experiences that have enriched my life.

Genevieve

This member is still helping out at her local church, collecting empty cups after the services and enjoying the chance it gives to strike up conversations with visitors. With a life rich with service to others, you won’t remember the evenings you stayed in watching Netflix!

Ask the Community: Why Do You Volunteer?

2. ‘It’s helping me land my first charity job’

It’s no secret that charities consider voluntary experience a professional step towards your first job in the sector. And our community can certainly testify to that. In fact, it was our second-most popular answer when we threw the question out to CharityConnect.

David claimed that it was the volunteer experience that landed him interviews for his first charity sector role. By being on the frontlines, your voluntary work is evidence that you’re just as invested in the battle as the charity is. Who wouldn’t pay attention to a candidate like that?

As I’m now looking for a career change into the charity sector, I’ve seen the value of volunteering in helping me get interviews as it’s a great experience, so I guess I’ve added on another ‘why’ which isn’t the main reason, but is a nice bonus!

David

And you never know when you might decide that a career in charity is your calling after all. Hannah, for example, was none the wiser that volunteering would give her a leg-up in her career years down the line!

I do think that my previous volunteering experience was beneficial to getting a job as a Fundraising Officer.

Hannah

Our CharityJob community certainly backed them on this. In fact, 80% on a recent poll claimed their voluntary work was a ‘big help’ in helping them get a foot in the door in the not-for-profit sector.

So, if you’re applying for a charity role, don’t belittle your volunteer experience. Pull it out from the bottom of your CV and give it prominence. Regardless of sector, volunteer work shows employers that you’re a go-getter, that you’re always looking to learn and expand yourself, and that you use your spare time productively.

Ask the Community: Why Do You Volunteer?

3. ‘I want to be part of the change’

But the top reason why our community spends their time serving others is simply because they want to take part in the fight. It’s the people who aren’t satisfied with sitting on their hands who are likely to go out and do great things outside of work.

Does your heart break for suffering or endangered animals? Are you overwhelmed by the injustice of human trafficking and slavery? Do you want to trailblaze change for the environmental disaster that we’re currently living in? This is the reason our CharityConnect community have signed themselves up to the part of that change.

The amount of homeless people that I walked by on my way to work and the few times I would stop and talk to them started to give me a greater awareness of their day to day experience as human beings and it then seemed illogical and cruel for me to do nothing about it. So I have applied for a number of homeless charities as well as ensuring I acknowledge and am kind to any person I meet on the street.

Rebecca

Too shy to be an outspoken activist? One of the best ways you can champion a cause you care about is through lending your time and skillset. Whether it’s your IT skills, social media, finance or leadership talents through being a trustee, just an hour or two of your time a week can help contribute to the progress of a cause you feel deeply about. And you can have the satisfaction of saying you helped in the best way you could.

My main ‘why’ has always been because I wanted to help a good cause and the best thing I had to offer was my time. As time went on and I became more confident in my job, I found I was looking for ways to transfer my skills across to volunteering.

David

So our community have spoken! There are tons of reasons you might be interested in volunteering but ultimately, it’s your passion for the cause that’ll make any contribution you make sustainable for you.

And you just don’t know how broad a range of volunteer jobs there are until you start scrolling—you might be surprised at some of the titles! With almost 3,000 volunteer opportunities in the UK right now, you’re likely to find something that aligns with your mission.

So get out there and start volunteering today!

Rose Wexler

Rose Wexler is a Marketing Intern at CharityJob. In her spare time, enjoys putting things on plinths and calling it art.

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