10 Unexpected Benefits Of Joining A Volunteer Organization
Joining a volunteer organization offers so many benefits, from enriching your own life to helping improve the lives of others. The old saying that money can’t buy happiness is often true — it may require some selflessness and initiative on your part to create a more fulfilling life.
When you volunteer, you can create more meaning within your own life. You know that you’re giving and living something bigger beyond yourself. However, there’s more to volunteering than feeling good about yourself. Check out these ten benefits and find a cause you’re passionate about today.
1. Meet People From Different Backgrounds
A volunteer organization usually attracts people from different places with the heart to serve their community. When you join a new group, you’ll be able to meet a diverse array of people and get to know their stories. You learn from them, create lasting friendships and get to share your own culture.
While there may be a lot of differences between you, you’ll be surprised how many similarities you have, too. Being part of the same group is just the start of your bond.
2. Enhance Your Social Skills
You learn how to better communicate with people and understand them, whether they’re longtime friends or strangers you’ve only just met. If you’re an introvert, feeling shy might be unavoidable. Volunteering gives you opportunities to overcome your shyness — just go out of your way and ask people what they need.
You’ll learn to work with others and collaborate when given tasks, which can benefit your professional and personal relationships as well.
3. Become More Empathetic
Sometimes it’s hard to understand where other people are coming from, especially if you haven’t experienced what they’ve experienced. The great thing about a volunteer organization is that just being part of it widens your perspective.
When you listen actively to people whose lives are different from your own, you get to discover what they’ve learned. You can work together to understand each other and find new solutions.
4. Find a Sense of Fulfillment
You can spend your free time however you want — the possibilities are truly endless. Using that precious time to volunteer shows how much you want to help your community. Aiding other people is an intrinsic desire for so many people. Taking time to support a cause close to your heart ensures you’re creating an impact in your own way.
5. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
You may not know what to expect when you start volunteering. Maybe it’s a new place, you don’t know anyone or you’re in a fast-paced environment. The unexpected can always happen on an ordinary day when you’re in a new situation, which makes it exciting. Volunteering lets you step out of your comfort zone and become more confident.
6. Get a New Sense Of Purpose
There are times in life when you might feel you have no direction, especially when you’ve experienced disappointments or failures. When you refocus your attention to volunteering and serving others, you find a new purpose. You’ll see what you can do to help others — who knows what else you might discover about yourself?
7. Develop Your Self-Esteem
Being out of your comfort zone also develops your self-esteem. Handling unexpected calls or taking on a new responsibility reinforces your belief that you can do anything, even if it’s hard or uncomfortable. Volunteering can help you feel grounded, too. Feeling down about yourself? Take a look at all the good you do to help others.
8. Encounter New Experiences
Volunteering often requires flexibility and an open mind. You might not know what to expect from day to day. While it may feel scary when things are unknown, it can also open many new possibilities for you. You gain new experiences you’d never encounter at work or school. Volunteering nourishes and expands your sense of adventure.
9. Keeps You on Your Feet
Exercise is essential to physical and mental health. However, not everyone has the time to work out every day — or wants to. Fortunately, another unexpected benefit of joining a volunteer organization is that you’ll be on the move. Many organizations are dynamic and need supporters who can stay on their feet, whether you’re moving boxes, taking shelter dogs for walks or cleaning up community gardens.
10. Gain New Skills
Some volunteer opportunities will require you to go through training. You may also be encouraged to develop new skills, like time management and organization leadership.
These skills are fundamental in the workplace and even in your personal life. The ability to lead yourself and others will always make you stand out, such as when you’re seeking a new career. It shows your sense of responsibility and resourcefulness.
Different Types of Volunteer Organizations
There are endless ways to volunteer and organizations to support. It can be a cause you’re totally passionate about or just something you want to try out. Whatever your choice, it’s all about making time and putting in the effort. Check out these examples of common groups:
- Elderly care: You may visit retirement communities or elderly community members who live alone. Whether you share a meal with them, help them run errands or just sit and chat to provide a sense of community, you’re making a difference.
- Social volunteer work: This work can focus on anything from children and education to empowering women within the community. You take an active role in making your community a better place for everyone.
- Animal Work: If you’re passionate about animals and taking care of them, this is the best volunteer work for you. You can go to animal rescue or wildlife conservation and learn how to care for furry friends or educate humans about them.
- Environment Work: If sustainability is your thing, consider protecting the environment with a local volunteer group. You might find yourself planting trees, hosting a cleanup or growing a community garden.
Your Heart Is Amazing
Being a volunteer takes dedication, effort and time. You go out of your way to go the extra mile. Most of the time, there’s no material reward in exchange for your time, but you’ll live each day feeling happy and fulfilled. Try joining a volunteer organization and see the difference it makes in your community — and your own life.
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