In 2011 roughly 64.3 million Americans, or 26.8% of the adult population, gave almost 7.9 billion hours of volunteer service in 2011. This is an increase of 1.5 million volunteers over 2010 and is the highest level of volunteerism in five years. Volunteering is important for many reasons – it saves resources for the community, meeting critical, local needs, and translates into better physical and mental health for those who donate their time.
Volunteering is the perfect way for you to connect with the community and make it a better place. In fact, unpaid volunteers can be considered the glue that holds the community together. Volunteering offers crucial help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community. Even the smallest acts of service can have a beneficial and significant impact on the lives of people and animals, organizations in need, and the environment. But the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer.
Below are some of the unexpected benefits of volunteering and the top reasons you should get active in your community.
- Volunteering allows you to connect with others
- It’s the perfect way for you to make new friends and meet like-minded individuals with common interests – it can also enhance existing relationships
- It gives you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills – which can be particularly beneficial for people who aren’t naturally outgoing because it encourages you to branch out and make more friends and contacts
- Because it keeps you in regular contact with others, it prevents you from becoming isolated and can, therefore, help protect you from depression
- Volunteering as a family, specifically, is a valuable way to show your children firsthand the impact that their individual actions can have on the community and the world around them in general
- Volunteering is good for your mental and physical health
- Doing good for others and the community will provide you a natural sense of accomplishment and give you a sense of pride and identity. This will help provide a healthy boost to your confidence and self-esteem
- Researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure (by measuring hormones and brain activity). We are hard-wired to give to others, so the more we give, the happier we feel
- Volunteering provides a sense of purpose
- It can help you take your mind off your worries and keep you mentally stimulated
- Volunteering can even help you stay physically healthy! Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not. Older volunteers, in particular, tend to walk more, find it easier to cope with everyday tasks, are less likely to develop high blood pressure, and have better-thinking skills
- Personal and Professional Development Benefits
- Exposure to different kinds of situations can help you identify your personal strengths and weaknesses and how to work on areas you struggle in
- Volunteering provides you the chance to break out of your ordinary routine, shatter your comfort zone, and learn to develop new skills and interests
- It will make you more aware and mindful of what is happening in the world beyond what you’ve been directly exposed to in your lifetime
- Volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice important skills that you’ll apply at work including teamwork, communication, problem-solving, project planning, task management, and organization. You might feel more comfortable and confident in the workplace as a result
- It can help you build upon the skills you already have and use them to benefit the community. For example, if you work in sales, you can apply your skills to raise awareness for your favorite cause as a volunteer advocate. This will help you develop and improve your public speaking, communication, and marketing skills
- It allows you to give back to something you feel passionate about
- One of the best things about volunteering is that there are as many ways to help as there are people and causes.
When it comes to choosing a cause or organization to volunteer for, it’s important to find a position that you would not only enjoy but are capable of doing. It’s also important to make sure that your commitment matches the organization’s needs. You can find volunteer opportunities everywhere, including:
- Historical restorations, national or local parks/gardens, and conservation organizations
- Local animal shelters, rescue organizations, or wildlife centers
- Community theaters, museums, and monuments
- Libraries or senior centers
- Youth organizations, sports teams, and after-school programs
- Online databases
- Volunteer – This is a directory of environmental volunteer opportunities
- VolunteerMatch – Find opportunities that match your volunteer interests, from location to type of work
- Idealist – This site provides volunteer opportunities in your local area or internationally
- National and Community Service – Federal organization offers volunteer positions across the U.S
- U.S. Peace Corps – Offers volunteer opportunities overseas and includes a 50 Plus division
- American Red Cross – Volunteer in any of the Red Cross’s key service areas
Kiwi Energy values sustainability and supports environmentally-friendly communities. For the past several years, including this year, volunteers from Kiwi Energy enthusiastically gather at Brooklyn’s Hattie Carthan Community Garden to lend a hand in GrowNYC’s Annual Spring Plant Sale. Earlier this month, our volunteers filled orders, loaded plants, assisted local customers, and performed other various gardening tasks.
Each year since 1986, GrowNYC hosts an Annual Spring Plant Sale to give community groups the opportunity to buy flowers, herbs, plants, and vegetables from Greenmarket farmers at wholesale prices. GrowNYC’s purpose behind the sale is to promote clean and healthy environments in New York City.
Kiwi Energy is always looking for ways to support non-profit organizations domestically and abroad. If you are part of an organization that fosters sustainability, supports environmentally conscious communities, or focuses on people and the planet, contact us today. We’d love to help support you in your next project.
Remember, whatever you are volunteering in, you’re making an impact in your life, the lives of those you volunteer with, the lives of those who benefit from your efforts, and depending on the cause, the environment/planet.