Writing on the Board

Benefits of volunteering

There are as many benefits to volunteering as there are motivations for donating your time! The dictionary definition of volunteering is "to work for no pay”. But that's not entirely truthful– there is a payoff for contributing your time, talent and enthusiasm – it’s just not financial. Volunteering should be a mutually beneficial transaction between the volunteer and the organization.  Here are some of the benefits or “pay” you receive when you volunteer.

 

Career and professional development

  • Resume experience.  

    • Volunteering always looks good on a resume – for anyone, at any age – but can be especially beneficial for people new to the workforce, new to the Canadian workforce, or returning after an absence.

  • Make contacts. 

    • You could meet people that will be beneficial to your career in the future. Many volunteer positions can lead to paid work – either at the organization in which you volunteer or through contacts you’ve met while volunteering. 

  • Practical experience. 

    • You can volunteer as a cashier, a childcare provider, a barista, or many other roles that will give you some directly related experience to many paid roles. Perhaps you are looking for a leadership role at work, but you aren’t qualified for the position, volunteering in a leadership role, or a role that supports leadership can be helpful to your future. 

  • Try out a new career. 

    • If you are choosing a career or considering a change, volunteering can be a great way to see how you like the environment in which you are considering. Perhaps you are thinking of working in health care, you can volunteer at a hospital to see if you like the atmosphere. You can try out event management, human resources, marketing, communications, and project management to name a few areas to test-drive.

  • Share your skills or expertise. 

    • Volunteering can be a great way to give back by sharing your knowledge and skills - in some cases, you may be the sole person with specific expertise in the organization.

  • References. 

    • You could meet some people who would be willing to give you a glowing reference (assuming you’ve earned it).

  • Team building. 

    • If you are with a group of co-workers or teammates – doing something together that is good for the community can bring you all closer.

 

Education benefits

  • Scholarships and awards. 

    • Many scholarships are based on marks, but at least as many take into account service to the community. There are many prestigious scholarships and awards that are solely awarded to students who also volunteer.

  • Post-secondary requirements. 

    • Many post-secondary programs now require a certain number of volunteer hours before you even apply, or certain programs place a lot of weight on your service to the community before they consider your application – even to fields in which you wouldn’t expect it to be a requirement. 

  • Mandated service hours. 

    • School courses such as Leadership, the International Baccalaureate program and others require you to log volunteer hours, even at a post-secondary level. As well, community service as mandated by the justice system may require volunteer hours.

 

Social rewards

  • It feels good. 

    • Helping others makes you feel good inside. There are some people who feel that volunteers should only do so in order to feel good or to give back – but consider that, that is also a form of pay!

  • To feel needed. 

    • Sometimes people may find themselves in a phase of their lives in which they don’t feel as needed as they used to (seniors, empty nesters, for example), or needed in a different way (stay-at-home parent, unemployed graduate). Volunteering can open up a whole new area where you can contribute.

  • Meet new people. 

    • You can expand your circle of friends and acquaintances by volunteering. Depending on the positon, you might meet lots of other volunteers, paid staff, clients and members.

  • Have fun. 

    • Volunteering can (and should) be fun – or at the very least enjoyable.  Make sure you choose a role that makes you feel good at the end of most of your shifts.

 

Personal growth and health

  • Learn new skills. 

    • Volunteering can be a good opportunity to try something new, expand on what you already know or to learn about a whole new area.

  • Support the cause. 

    • Hopefully, you will choose an organization whose mission you feel passionately about. Knowing you are helping to make a difference is really rewarding.

  • Practice English. 

    • If you are new to Canada, depending on the volunteer role, you might be able to practice English (or perhaps another language).

  • Learn about another cultures. 

    • You could learn about Canada, if you are a new immigrant, or you could learn about a culture other than Canadian if you are volunteering with a cultural group or organization that assists newcomers.

  • To be healthy. 

    • Studies have shown that people who volunteer are healthier – both physically and mentally - are happier and in the case of seniors, volunteering has been linked to living longer!

  • Show you care. 

    • If you volunteer, it says a lot about your character. It shows others (especially potential employers or professors) that you care about something beyond your own world.
       

"the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
~Gandhi