According to Tom Cleverdon from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BSU) of the US Department of Labor, the volunteer rate declined by 1.1 percent in the year 2013, making it the lowest since the first measurement in 2002. However, the percentage still hold up at a high 25.4 pencert, meaning “around 62.6 million volunteered volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2012 and September 2013”. Drew Chivic from Action Without Borders and Tim Banks from World Volunteer Web agree: “Volunteering can be far more than simply doing a good deed” and precisely some of those benefits have been widely studied in the last years.
Learn or develop a new skill. Stephanie Wright blogger and experienced volunteer highlights five main skills she acquired during her trip in Ecuador with Lattitude: Leadership, problem-solving and adaptability, time management, communication and team work. Althought most of this skills are generally taught during school years, it isn’t until you are out in the world that you learn their importance and you cherish what you’ve learnt.
Be part of your community. The 2011 report published by researcher Ron Ormeau argues that building stronger, healthier and more active communities is facilitated through the process of community development work of which volunteering is a fundamental part.
Motivation and sense of achievement.
Boost your career options. Kip Patric, expert writer from the Huffington Post blog, focuses in four main volunteering related factors that boost your career, improve your CV and help you find a better job faster. First of all it is a path of career exploration, it offer a taste of what working is like so choosing what you want to do further on is easier. Second, it gives you experience and helps you fill in the gaps in your resumé. Third, it builds you an important personal and professional network (see more bellow). And fourth, it shows you are a good worker, altruist and helpful.
New interests, hobbies and experiences. Specially for those young volunteers, either from high school of collegue, living new and thrilling experiences and getting a taste of independence before they reach adulthood is very enriching. According to Mia K. Pringle “New experiences are a prerequisite for mental growth as essential to the mind’s development as food is for the body’s” therefore, to break with the routine will help them develop as human beings.
Meeting a diverse range of people. Getting to know people that shares your same curiosities and interest and working together with them over a period of time, helps build long lasting relationships based on mutual trust and respect. Moreover, it helps build a steady social and professional network, that could bring advantages in the future such as job or business opportunities. John Pann, expert in social interaction highllight three characteristics of networking: “Meeting and getting to know people who are willing to share with you career information and advice, building ongoing relationships to exchange information and advice, and following up and maintaining contact with those who have assisted you.
As we’ve seen volunteering is indeed far more that doing a good deed. Either it is national or international, a short stay or a long one, a personal experience or an experience shared with a group; volunteering offers benefits that go a step further and not only helps the community and indivuduals that host the volunteers, but also help the volunteers to grow, learn, improve and become better versions of themselves.
D. Chivic (January 13, 2012) “The Benefits of Volunteering” Retrieved Dec. 23 from: http://www.idealist.org/info/Volunteer/Benefits
J. Pann (April, 2012) “Developing a Strong Professional Network” Retrieved Dec. 24 from: https://www.mne.psu.edu/PSNES/Networking.pdf
M. K. Pringle (March, 2007) “The need for neew experiences” Retreived Dec. 24 from: http://www.cyc-net.org/cyc-online/cycol-0307-pringle.html
T. Banks (October 19, 2005) “Benefits of Volunteering” Retrieved Dec. 23 from http://www.worldvolunteerweb.org/resources/how-to-guides/volunteer/doc/benefits-of-volunteering.html
T. Cleverdon (February 20, 2014) “Volunteering in the United States – 2013” Retrieved Dec. 23 from: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/volun.pdf
S. Wright (July 30, 2013) “Top 5 Skills Learnt While Volunteering” Retrieved Dec. 24 from: http://www.lattitude.org.uk/2013/07/5-skills-i-learnt-while-volunteering/
Picture: ECSU Abroad (2012, December 4) “Top 10 Things to do in Africa” Retrieved Dec. 23 from: https://ecsuabroad.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/top-10-things-to-do-in-africa